LP members sway to Duterte’s side

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Tuesday, 24 May 2016 - Last Updated on February 5, 2017

With almost a month before presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte formally assumes the post, more lawmakers from outgoing President Aquino’s camp have decided to join the incoming administration’s Coalition for Change.

Eighty of the 116 elected Liberal Party (LP) representatives are joining the Duterte bandwagon, relegating LP to the minority in the incoming 17th Congress.

This comes as other parties have expressed their support for PDP-Laban, Duterte’s political party. The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Nacionalista Party, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democracts, National Unity Party, and the 45-member partylist coalition have announced that they are joining Duterte’s fold.

House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II said LP is asking its members to remain with the party even though they will be supporting the speakership of Daval del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez of Duterte’s PDP-Laban.

House Speaker Feliciano Blemonte Jr., who was LP’s general campaign manager in the recently concluded polls, have admitted that Alvarez will win the speakership in the House of Representatives. “It’s not just about him having the numbers; it’s only a matter of time that he’ll be speaker,” he said in a Philippine Star report.

Under this scenario, the LP would have two blocs: one in the majority while the other remains in Belmonte’s side as minority.

Just two days after the May 9 polls, PDP-Laban endorsed Alvarez as House Speaker. Alvarez served as transportation secretary under the Arroyo administration.

On Monday, the Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) and the National Unity Party (NUP) reunited to support the Duterte administration’s legislative agenda.

Members of the NUP broke away from Lakas-CMD in 2011 due to internal discontent with the party. It has 40 newly elected representatives in the House.

Duterte however has no clear endorsement for Senate president so far, with LP senators refusing to realign and with at least two senators from Duterte’s camp eyeing the post.

Re-elected Sen. Vicente Sotto III said it is not true that Duterte can influence the Upper Chamber in race for Senate president, adding however that Duterte’s “blessing” may help.

“It helps. It always helps. Kaya lang meron mga experiences in the past na yung nagiging Senate President eh hindi gusto noong Presidente ng Pilipinas,” Sotto said, citing the case of former Senate president Jovito Salonga being preferred over Cory Aquino’s protege Neptali Gonzales.

Two senators from Duterte’s camp, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, have expressed interest in the Senate president seat.

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