Tiangco leaves UNA over minority leadership row

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco resigned as United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) president on Monday, July 25. 

"Officially left already," said Tiangco on the sidelines of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa.

His resignation comes after UNA fielded Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez in the race for House minority leader instead of him during the opening session of the 17th Congress. 

Suarez's bid was mired with controversy after Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman alleged that the supermajority bloc led by the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) would "lend" its members to Suarez so he would win the minority leadership.

"'Di ako makapayag na ganoon ang gagawin ng members ng UNA, na papayag silang magpagamit sa hiraman ng boto. Mahirap naman na presidente ako at ganoon ang gagawin ng mga miyembro. I cannot even do anything about it," said Tiangco. 

(I can't accept that UNA members would do that, that they would let themselves be used in the vote-lending scheme. It would be hard if I'm the president and then that's what the members would be doing. I cannot even do anything about it.)

"If that's the way they want to go, ako na lang ang aalis (I'll be the one to leave)," he added.

Tiangco said on Tuesday that he will become a part of the independent minority at the House. 

"I'll just be an independent minority. I am not going to join them," added Tiangco, when asked if he plans to join the House minority now that he left UNA.

By tradition, the second placer in the House speakership race becomes the minority leader.

Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez was elected as House Speaker after garnering a whopping 251 votes. 

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr – who ran in protest of the so-called conspiracy between the supermajority and Suarez – got 8 votes. Suarez only received 7 votes. Twenty-one lawmakers abstained while Tiangco cast a "no vote."

No minority leader has been declared, however. House Majority Floor Leader Rudy Fariñas said that House rules mandate that lawmakers who did not vote for the winning candidate for House speaker must hold separate elections for minority leader. (READ: Still no minority leader for House?

"Even if pagbotohan namin, it's useless kasi kahit na manalo ako sa botohan, hindi ako papahiramin ng boto. Papahiramin si Suarez ng boto kasi the goal at that time was talunin si SB," said Tiangco, who also accused Suarez of "game fixing" at the House.

(Even if we vote on it, it's useless because I would not be given votes. They'd lend votes to Suarez because the goal at that time was to beat SB.)

Tiangco was referring to Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr, who had initially gunned for the minority leadership until the Liberal Party decided to coalesce with PDP-Laban. (READ: Belmonte drops bid for House minority leader

Belmonte was the former House Speaker. – 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.

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