18aug09-The majority picks the minority leader!

POSTSCRIPT / August 9, 2018 / Thursday

The majority picks the minority leader!

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

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AT THE HOUSE of Representatives the other day, the supermajority elected one of themselves — Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez – as the Minority Leader, a position that made him look something like the boss of the Company Union.

Minority members already know why and how, but insist on asking what ever happened to Rule II, Section 8, of the Rules of the House which says: “xxx (a) all those who vote for the winning Speaker shall belong to the Majority and those who vote for other candidates shall belong to the Minority; (b) those who abstain from voting shall likewise be considered part of the Minority; and (c) the Minority Leader shall be elected by members of the Minority.”

If they cannot undo Suarez’s election, some opposition congressmen are likely to seek relief in the Supreme Court.

Suarez voted with 183 others for his long-time ally Rep. Gloria M. Arroyo in the tumultuous session of July 23 that installed her in place of then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez whose alleged brash style had reportedly pissed off not only his peers but also President Duterte.

Under the House rule cited, Suarez’s voting for Arroyo cast him with the ruling majority, but that is a minor matter to a supermajority that can change any rule that gets in the way.

Suarez happened to have been the Minority Leader in the previous Alvarez setup and his position was not declared vacant (only that of the Speaker was) in the July 23 revolt in the chamber – so, he said, he is just continuing to hold his minority position.

To firm that up, the House majority elected him Minority Leader by voice vote Tuesday. It was an irrelevant detail, but Speaker Arroyo did not preside over that session. It was Capiz Rep. Fred Castro at the rostrum.

Some opposition lawmakers threaten to go to the Supreme Court, but considering the prevailing winds blowing in the tribunal’s direction from the Pasig River, what for?

Still, there’s no harm invoking a precedent. On July 25, 2017, the tribunal upheld the validity of that rule in a decision resolving a similar dispute between Suarez also and the so-called “Magnificent 7” led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said the 14-member Alvarez group wants ABS party-list Rep. Eugene de Vera as Minority Leader. On the other hand, the bloc of Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, which counts on the left-leaning Makabayan group and Liberal Party members, wants Quimbo.

• PIA chief to Mocha: Go on leave, reflect

THIS media worker may have grown weary, and somewhat tolerant of things that other people find annoying or even repugnant. I now catch myself ducking, instead of standing up, while the killer storm swirls around us.

When the gross “pepederalismo” video of PCOO Asst. Secretary Mocha Uson hit the fan days ago, I was ready to wait till it blew over. Although I found it “bastos” like many things with the administration, I thought it was still OK since more of such inanities would help derail the Federalism train that I oppose.

And then, the more ideas, the better – as in the Maoist “Let a thousand flowers bloom!” misquote. I would not mind propagandists looking silly and making a fool of themselves were it not for the fact that they are paid with our taxes.

Mistaking the offensive video to have been produced with the blessings of PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar, I had hoped the negative reaction to the pa-dede, pa-pepe chant of Mocha’s partner in the video would teach them finer points of public information.

For a while, I also thought that everyone in PCOO stood with her, until I came upon a Facebook item reportedly authored by Director-General Harold Clavite of the Philippine Information Agency, one of the major agencies under Andanar.

My sagging faith in government media workers was lifted by Clavite’s appeal and message for Mocha to apologize and go on leave to think things over. Because of limited space, we can share only these excerpts:

“On the heels of (Asec) Uson’s latest blunder on the administration’s campaign for federalism, a public apology from the PCOO official is paramount. Along this line is a call for her to take a leave of absence to reflect on these matters.

“This is not only a seeming insult to our profession in communication and public information, but also degrading to the women and mothers in our communities.

“I have served alongside PCOO and all its attached agencies under (Andanar), and as far as I’m concerned, Ms Uson’s actions since her appointment have time and again proved to be in poor taste – a display of an utter lack of judgment and have maligned our profession as government communicators.

“I speak out on this issue to give value to the massive man-hours my office (PIA)  had spent in providing capability and capacity building trainings, seminar to all our stakeholders in public information; to give value to the hard work of PCOO agencies.

“My stand on this issue defends the integrity and intelligence of all government information officers, volunteers, and partners – many of whom are women and mothers – who are continuously working very hard to positively influence the Filipino public to make them responsible sharers of information and be able to contribute to the significant change the public information infrastructure of this country badly requires.

“As a public servant and part of the PCOO family, I take great offense in Ms Uson’s actions, which continuously damage the rectitude of my communication and public information agenda. I can no longer let her obscure and vilify my honest work in helping the President, this government, and this country, as well as the efforts that we have painstakingly and patiently put into place for the past two years.

“We have been sitting idly by for too long, and it is about time that someone speaks up and holds erring officials accountable for repeatedly tarnishing the reputation of this government.”

 

(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 9, 2018. Follow the author on Twitter as @FDPascual.

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