Paduano is new House minority leader after Abante’s shift to majority

Christian Deiparine ( – October 19, 2020 – 6:48pm

MANILA, Philippines — A new minority leader representing farmers and fisherfolk in Congress has been elected following Rep. Benny Abante’s decision to join the majority after the leadership change in the House. 

Abante stepped down on October 17 from the minority as he expressed “full trust” for the speakership of Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) who successfully asserted the term-sharing deal between him and now ousted speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. 

As a result, Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod Party-list was elected to lead the 22-member minority bloc that vowed to support legislations in the chamber “through constructive criticisms and not as obstructionists.”

“The minority bloc is assuring the House and the Filipino people that it will remain loyal to the principles that mould the group in fiscalizing and in providing a potent force to implement check and balance in the House of Representatives,” they said in a statement. 

Paduano, who had served as a deputy minority leader, was first elected to Congress in 2014. 

He was also one of the two lawmakers who withdrew their authorship of measures that would have granted broadcast giant ABS-CBN a renewed 25-year legislative franchise, as he cited concerns on the network’s alleged tax violations which had since been cleared by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. 

The minority bloc had raised various issues during the House hearings on the proposed P4.5 trillion spending plan for 2021. 

This included questioning government agencies over the issue of red-tagging, or linking several of its member-lawmakers to the CPP-NPA, as well as insufficient funds for the country’s continuing coronavirus response next year. 

“[We] may have differences due to party affiliations, convictions, beliefs and even ideologies, but it will always unite with regards to legislations that will redound to the ordinary Filipino,” they added.

Congress also last week passed on final reading the 2021 budget in marathon hearings following the leadership struggle. President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the lower house to convene in special sessions as fears of a reenacted budget that is seen to hurt the country badly hit by the coronavirus, surfaced. — with reports from Xave Gregorio

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