House deputy majority leader moves for Suarez as minority leader

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 6) — There is still no minority leader at the House of Representatives.

This, despite an effort from Senior Deputy Majority Leader Rodante Marcoleta to have Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez be recognized as minority leader.

Suarez is a known ally of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

After a lengthy debate, the lower house failed to vote on Marcoleta's motion.

During session Monday afternoon, former House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas asked Marcoleta why the majority was intervening in the affairs of the minority.

Fariñas maintained under House Rules, minority members should choose who their leader should be.

"It will be an anomaly for the majority leader to ask the body as to who will be the minority leader. Otherwise, we are already stating that the choice of the minority leader is up to the majority which is a clear violation of the rule," he said.

But Marcoleta claimed the majority leader has power to resolve disputes in the House, especially if it has already compromised the integrity of the lower chamber.

"It is the position of the majority leader that the work of the House of Representatives should not be compromised because the seeming squabble by the protagonists is directly affecting the integrity, reputation and even individual members of this House," he said.

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, however, clarified Marcoleta made the motion on his personal capacity, and it had no imprimatur from the House leadership.

Marcoleta stood in for Andaya as majority leader during Monday's session because the latter had to attend an event in Malacañang.

Andaya said, "We're all at a loss at this point in time because the case being cited now is not applicable... It's all up in the air, we cannot decide at this point in time."

Marcoleta argued Suarez was still the rightful minority leader because his position was never declared vacant.

Only the House Speaker and the majority leader were replaced during the reorganization.

Farinas, however, insisted that under the House Rules, which he wrote, and a Supreme Court decision, those who voted in favor of the Speaker were considered part of the majority, while those who did not, belonged to the minority.

Farinas maintained Suarez abandoned his post and joined the majority when he voted for Arroyo to be House Speaker.

But Marcoleta argued that rule only applies in the beginning of a session when there is no organized leadership yet.

Should the leadership insist on its decision, Farinas said he will raise the issue in the proper forum.