Allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo continue to struggle to remain a significant force in the House of Representatives.
This, as Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez announced he will be leading a new group in the Lower Congress that is totally independent from the minority bloc.
“We did not vote (for) the Speaker and the Minority Leader, it means we are independent… We are the minority/independent,” Romualdez said.
The nephew of former First Lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos made the pronouncement after losing in the election for House Speaker on Monday morning.
Romualdez garnered only 16 votes in the speakership race, even losing to returning San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who has been named the new House minority leader after collecting 19 votes.
The election took place before President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22.
“But while we are separate from the minority, we shall be in close collaboration with one another,” Romualdez clarified.
In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Romualdez vowed to work with Zamora’s particularly in scrutinizing Malacanang’s proposal for a P2.2-trillion national budget for next year.
He jsaid thee xistenec of two minority blocs would ensure checks and balances in the government of President Aquino.
“Without separating ourselves, our first step is we will try to sit together where we can share ideas and see if we have similar priorities and concerns with the other opposition group,” Romualdez said.
“Then we shall work together, if not, we can beg to differ and pursue our end,” he added.
There had been reports that Zamora rejected the inclusion of Arroyo’s allies due to the strong opposition coming from party-list lawmakers.
But Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan denied any links to the exclusion of Arroyo’s group in the minority bloc.
“How can we reject them if they have not applied? They did not signify intention to join us (in the minority). The group of GMA (Arroyo) has not formally informed us about joining,” Ilagan said.
The veteran lawmaker, however, admitted that working with Arroyo loyalists would be very difficult for them.
Romualdez, who also serves as the president of Arroyo’s Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats (CMD) political party, said he already informed Zamora about their decision to create a new group.
Aside from himself, those who voted for Romualdez include:
Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos
La Union Rep. Victor Ortega
Bulacan Rep. Gavini Pancho
Cavite Rep. Luis Ferrer
Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla
Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez
Camarines Sur Rep. Dato Arroyo
Negros Occidental Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva
Masbate Rep. Maria Vida Bravo
Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay
Bukidnon rep. Florencio Flores
Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo
Lanao del Norte Rep. Imelda Dimaporo
Buhay party-list. Jose Atienza
Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz
Zamora’s allies who voted for him were:
Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano
Isabela Rep. Anna Cristina Go
Aurora Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo
Taguig City Rep. Lino Cayetano
Bukidnon Rep. Florencio Flores
Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Seth Jalosjos
North Cotabato Rep. Jose Tejada
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmerenciana De Jesus
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan
Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio
Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap
Kabataan party-list rep. Terry Ridon
LPGMA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty
Yacap party-list Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez
1-BAP partylist Rep. Silvestre Bello
Ang Nars Rep. Lea Paquiz