House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr has lost the fight for speakership before the 17th Congress even began.
He conceded defeat to the new Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez mere days after announcing he would challenge the presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte's choice for Speaker.
Belmonte revealed in a text message to reporters that Alvarez clearly "has or will soon have the numbers."
The big guns behind Alvarez's speaker bid are PDP-Laban's coalition agreements with several major political parties, such as the Nationalist People's Coalition (the Philippine's second biggest political party next to the LP, with 44 incoming representatives), the Nacionalista Party, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, and the party-list bloc.
That's not all - Belmonte, vice chairman of the Liberal Party, just about relinquished his partymates to Alvarez in a conversation with the Representative the previous day.
"I told him [Alvarez] most of the LP bloc would like to join the majority and support the Duterte admin and him for Speaker. I'm sure he'll be the next Speaker."
Alvarez, who is reappearing in Congress after 15 years, claimed earlier that around 50 LP members would transfer to his party - PDP-Laban - and reinforce his bid for speakership. He said his latest count consisted of 180 lawmakers across party lines were on his side - a vast majority of the 290-member House.
When asked about this claim, Belmonte answered "maybe more" would shift allegiances.
We have yet to see if Belmonte will contemplate leading the minority bloc in lieu of going head to head against Alvarez for the speakership.
Just last Wednesday, Belmonte and around 90 incumbent as well as incoming House members of the LP and its allies congregated at a hotel in Mandaluyon City in a show of solidarity for Belmont's endeavor to become Speaker for a third time.