‘No grudges’ for Fariñas after Arroyo takeover in House

MANILA, Philippines – After serving as House Majority Leader for two years, Rodolfo Fariñas said he does not feel betrayed after lawmakers staged a coup that ousted Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker.

“No grudges,” said Fariñas on Tuesday, July 31 when asked if he feels betrayed by legislators who moved to elect former president and Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the new Speaker.

In the aftermath of the coup, Fariñas was removed as Majority Leader and replaced by Camarines Sur 1st District Representative Rolando Andaya, Arroyo’s budget secretary when she was still president.

“No. I have been in politics for a very long time… I know how politics is. Politics is the art of the possible. And if it’s possible, it means to meet the kindest and cruelest of persons. Possible eh,” said the Ilocos Norte 1st District representative.

Fariñas shared Arroyo’s allies had offered for him to abandon Alvarez since March 2018. Had Fariñas agreed, the Arroyo bloc would have retained him as Majority Leader under an Arroyo speakership. 

But Fariñas said he could not accept the offer, as he is loyal to Alvarez.

Farinas had served as the former Speaker’s trusted right-hand man. It was Fariñas who forged close relationships among the lawmakers in the 17th Congress and whipped the votes in favor of administration bills. (READ: Rudy Fariñas, boss in the House)

But this may have contributed to Alvarez’s downfall too, as the former Speaker left the job of cultivating relationships with their colleagues to Fariñas. Discontent grew against Alvarez’s leadership in the past months. 

With backing from Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, Fariñas’ political rival, Arroyo’s allies succeeded in unseating Alvarez on July 23. (READ: The women behind the fall of Alvarez)

Fariñas, however, said he cannot confirm Marcos’ involvement in the ouster plot.

“How can I confirm it? I was the victim!… But like I said, I saw her there enjoying and celebrating. But I don’t blame her. Ganyan lang naman ang pulitika eh (That's how it goes it politics),” he said.  

Fariñas is now part of the 13-member Alvarez group contesting for the coveted House minority bloc. Other lawmaker groups laying claim over the minority are the alliance of the Liberal Party-Makabayan-Magnificent 7 and the bloc of Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez, the Minority Leader under Alvarez. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.