From the People’s House to The Working House, the 17th Congress’ shift in leadership has also brought about a change in dynamics in the bicameral body’s lower house.
That change has been evident since Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the helm, bringing with her the bravado and great zeal which has influenced the 292-strong member House of Representatives into crafting and approving numerous bills in only a short span of time.
Let’s take a quick refresher on who composes this resolute lawmaking body.
House Speaker: Bastion of Leadership
From its first speaker in 1907 in the person of the late great Sergio Osmeña, many political titans have served as leader of the House of Representatives.
Currently headed by the 14th President and the first woman Speaker of the Republic of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the House Speaker is the fourth highest government official.
Arroyo was elected to the Speakership on July 23, 2018 and is the first woman and 21st person to serve as Speaker.
The Speaker is elected by a majority of all House members. The Speaker is the third in the line of succession for the presidency, after the Vice President and Senate President.
The Speaker presides over the House sessions; decides on all questions of order, subject to appeal by any member; signs all acts, resolutions, memorials, writs, warrants, and subpoenas issued by or upon order of the House; appoints, suspends, dismisses or disciplines House personnel; and exercises administrative functions.
Currently comprised of 14 lawmakers from different parts of the country, the Deputy Speakers under SGMA’s current term is one of the most in history.
They are the second highest-ranking officials of the House. In the absence of the Speaker, one of the Deputy Speakers is tasked to preside during sessions.
There used to be only one Deputy Speaker since the House was first established in 1907 – the official was called Speaker Pro-Tempore. It was only in 1995 (or during the 10th Congress) when the position was renamed to Deputy Speakers.
The current Deputy Speakers are Reps. Rose Marie Arenas of Pangasinan, Mercedes Alvarez of Negros Occidental, Fredenil Castro of Capiz, Raneo Abu of Batangas, Prospero Pichay, Jr. of Surigao del Sur, Mylene Garcia-Albano of Davao City, Arthur Yap of Bohol, Pia Cayetano of Taguig, Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA party-list, Munir Arbison of Sulu, Ferdinand Hernandez of South Cotabato, Frederick Abueg of Palawan, Evelina Escudero of Sorsogon and Linabelle Ruth Villarica of Bulacan.
In the House of Representatives, the Majority Floor Leader (also known as the Majority Leader) is the dominant representative and delegate of the majority party.
The position is second-in-command within the hierarchy of the committee, following the Speaker and followed by the Minority Floor Leader.
The Majority Leader is considered to be the “enforcer” in the House, and often enforces the legislative direction laid out by the Speaker.
The Majority Leader is elected in a caucus of the majority bloc. His primary function, aside from being the spokesman for the majority bloc, is to direct the deliberations on the floor.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, Jr. is the current majority leader.
The constructive critic, vigilant defender of minority rights, the Minority Leader is the acknowledged spokesman for the minority bloc of lawmakers. But it does not necessarily follow that he is also the leader of the opposition party because the minority bloc in the House may be composed of one or more political groups.
The Minority Leader is expected to be alert and vigilant in defense of the minority’s rights. It is his function and duty to criticize constructively the policies and programs of the majority.
Like the Majority Leader, the Minority Leader is elected in caucus of all Members of the House belonging to the minority. He is an ex-officio member of all standing Committees.
The Minority Leader is not necessarily a hardcore oppositionist. His job is more to ensure check and balance in the Chamber. Presently, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez is the Minority Leader.