Three groups claim to be real House Minority bloc

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 31) — Not one, not two, but three groups are claiming to be the real Minority bloc at the House of Representatives.

The De Vera bloc

The first group, led by ABS-Partylist Representative Eugene De Vera, is backed by former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and former House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas.

In a letter sent to House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, De Vera stated he has accepted Alvarez, Fariñas, and 12 of their allies' application to the Minority bloc.

Fariñas earlier claimed De Vera should be the Minority Leader after House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez voted for Arroyo as House Speaker – effectively abandoning his post.

Fariñas said De Vera was Suarez's only Deputy Minority Leader who did not support Arroyo.

"They abandoned their positions by voting for the new Speaker. You cannot have your cake and eat it too... The moment they participated in removing the Speaker, they already crossed their rubicon and they are already in the majority," Fariñas said Monday.

In his letter, De Vera assured Arroyo the group would cooperate with her leadership and with President Rodrigo Duterte's legislative agenda.

The Suarez bloc

The second group is Suarez's group, the recognized minority bloc during the Alvarez Speakership.

Suarez and 14 of his allies maintain the reorganization only applies to the Speakership and not to the minority leadership.

Hence, there is no vacancy in the minority.

Suarez insists he would not vacate his post even though he openly supported Arroyo.

"Retiring from Congress as Minority Leader is something that I envisioned to wind up my career... Matagal na rin kasi akong laging nasa minority, e. Plus the fact that I don't want them to take my office... I built that office myself ha.," he said.

[Translation: Retiring from Congress as Minority Leader is something that I envisioned to wind up my career... I have been with the Minority for a long time. Plus the fact that I don't want them to take my office...I build that office myself.]

The Liberal Party and Makabayan bloc

The third group is the Liberal Party and its allies, and the Makabayan bloc, led by Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo.

The LP and the leftist militant group are strange bedfellows, as they used to be at odds with each other during the Aquino administration. But they have now come together to oppose Arroyo's Speakership.

The 24-man group is composed of LP members and allies who abstained from voting during Arroyo's election as speaker, and the Makabayan bloc members who voted against the Pampanga Representative.

The group said House Rules indicate those who voted for the Speaker are part of the majority, while those who did not are part of the minority.

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said it was not about ambition or to claim spoils, but rather to have a real voice for the opposition.

Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice added it was to ensure a true check and balance system in the House.

Albay Representative and LP member Edcel Lagman explained the Minority Leader and the Deputy Minority Leaders are important because they have attendance and are given voting power in important committees like the Committee on Appropriation, Committee on Ways and Means, and the Bicameral Conference Committee.

He added Minority bloc members are also given proportionate representation in all committees.

Lagman said this was why it is important that the recognized Minority bloc was given to those who would ensure checks and balances in the lower chamber.