WOE to the independent-minded opposition in the House of Representatives because the lower chamber of Congress has started a tradition, which continues to the present, regarding the designation or election of a minority leader.
When Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of Pampanga (history will bear out the fact that she is the most successful power grabber in recent memory) again mounted a coup, this time to unseat Pantaleon Alvarez as speaker of the House just before Duterte delivered his State of the Nation Address on July 23, 2018. Under Arroyo’s speakership, the House members grudgingly elected Rep. Danilo Suarez of Quezon as minority floor leader, her friend and supporter, of course. What a convenient arrangement they made, with the Duterte administration getting its pet bills passed.
We do not know how effective Manila’s Rep. Benny Abante was as minority leader under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, but in Abante’s own words, he had been supportive of Cayetano’s programs and initiatives if these would redound to the benefit of the Filipino people. The active fiscalizing work was done by the so-called Makabayan bloc led by Rep. Carlos Zarate although this group saw nothing good or positive in the administration, as their political views jibe with the arm-chair revolutionaries in The Netherlands.
Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco may have just begun to warm his seat in the elevated stage, but he knows how to make good use of the wily example of Mrs. Arroyo. Velasco’s camp endorsed and elected as minority leader somebody who belonged to their camp — Abang Lingkod partylist Rep. Joseph Paduano. He voted for Velasco as speaker and was in fact with him when President Duterte called a meeting in Malacañang to enforce the so-called gentleman’s agreement or term-sharing for the speakership.
‘The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.’
Under the rules of the lower house, a congressman who votes for the speaker automatically becomes a member of the majority bloc. But Paduano said this rule does not apply in cases where only the speaker’s post is vacant, which was the case in both the election of Arroyo and Velasco. Paduano vowed to be a better fiscalizer than the pastor from Pandacan.
But Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman could be heard saying, “Tell that to the Marines.” They are birds of a feather, and while tagged with different names as minority and majority, their inherent characteristics call for them to flock together.
Lagman said the House majority bloc consists of two groups – the more numerous supermajority and the smaller aggrupation of majority allies who masquerade as minority.
Soviet leader Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, was right. He said, “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” We do not know if Arroyo or Velasco had read Lenin, but sure, they know how to put the great proletarian’s ideas into practice.