During House committee briefing, Lagman asks: Who is the minority?

MANILA, Philippines – Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman on Tuesday, July 31 questioned the rules on House committee briefings, in the absence of an "accepted" minority bloc.

Economic managers on Tuesday presented the proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget to the House committee on appropriations chaired by Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles.

In his opening statement, Nograles said that interpellations would be arranged in an alternating fashion between majority and minority lawmakers.

When the Davao City legislator opened the floor for questions, Lagman directed his question to Nograles instead, asking how he will manage interpellations as there is ongoing debate on who constituted the minority.

"Considering that [the] House adjourned yesterday on who will compose the House minority, how will you reckon the prioritization of any minority in the interpellation?" Lagman asked.

Lagman is part of the lawmakers who declared they are the "the duly constituted minority under the rules" of the House.

Nograles, part of the majority bloc, responded irately, saying that Lagman's query does not concern the House committee on appropriations.

"I will not care to interpret the rules or make any rulings because that belongs to the [House] Speaker and the Majority [Floor] Leader and those composed of the minority," he said.

Nograles said that lawmakers who wish to identify themselves as part of the minority during the interpellations will be considered so.

"If you wanna go to the minority, by all means, this listing will have no bearing in the decision on who will become the majority and who becomes the minority. I will not be bogged down by those issues that does not belong here. That belongs to the plenary," he said.

"Let me manage this committee as chairman," he added.

Nograles then called Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez to interpellate, whom he called "part of the minority."

Suarez was minority leader under Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, who was ousted and replaced by Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He is vying to remain as minority leader. (READ: Fariñas 'going to SC' if Suarez stays as House minority leader)

The battle for House minority leadership remains unsettled, with another session set to seal the fate on who will lead the bloc Tuesday at 4 pm.– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.