Newly-installed Minority Leader Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano of the ABANG LINGKOD Party-List vowed Wednesday that his faction would continue to act as fiscalizers under the new House leadership.
Paduano, speaking in press briefing on Zoom, said the now 21-strong Minority would follow the example left by erstwhile Minority Leader, Manila 6th district Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. and even that of Quezon 3rd district Rep. Danilo Suarez back in the previous 17th Congress.
“Rest assured that the Minority will be a fiscalizer and balancing group in the House especially on legislation work,” said Paduano, the first party-list congressman to be ever bear the Minority Leader mantle.
He said his group would in no way become a co-opted Minority or a “company union” under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco. Velasco is a party-mate of President Duterte.
“Let the record tell, (just look at the record of the) Minority since the 17th and now 18th Congress during the time of Minority Floor Leader Benny Abante. Though hindi naman perfect, alam niyo naman paano kami lumaban doon sa mga bills and issues in the House which we believed should be opposed (Though we weren’t perfect, you know that we fought against the bills and issues in the House which we believed should be opposed),” he told reporters.
Paduano held the title of Senior Deputy Minority Leader under both Suarez and Abante.
Moreover, Paduano noted that the six-member Makabayan Bloc–perhaps the most unmovable of administration critics in the Lower Chamber–remains part of the Minority.
“How can you influence, how can you coopt the Makabayan Bloc? (The Minority right now) is composed of (solons with) different principles and ideologies. And the principle that binds us…we operate on the principle of ‘we agree to disagree,’” he said.
“There are issues where we will have a common stand, and there will be issues that will be the stand of the party or individual stand of the members of the Minority,” he further said.
Paduano also maintained that his election as Minority Leader last Monday was in accordance with House rules.
Last Friday, Abante announced he would step down as Minority Leader in order to join the Majority Bloc in the 301-member House. This was just three days after Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) stalwart Velasco of Marinduque officially assumed the Speakership, replacing Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Aside from Abante, Marikina City 1st district Rep. Bayani Fernando and Negros Occidental 3rd district Rep Arnie Teves also bolted the Minority in favor of a place in the Majority following the Speakership change.