The Liberal Party (LP) is losing power swiftly and drastically as more than a dozen of its members from the Visayas have abandoned Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to join presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s emerging coalition in the House of Representatives.
The Liberal Party (LP), the current administrations strongest political party is swiftly and drastically losing its power as more than a dozen of its members from the Visayas have abandoned Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to join president elect Rodrigo Duterte's coalition in the House of Representatives.
Reg. Alfredo Benitez, who formerly belonged to LP and who ran for reelection as an independent during last May 9 elections, lead the group of members from the Visayas bloc to sign a declatration of support for incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Bebot Alvarez in the speakership race of the 17th Congress.
Bebot Alvarez, a member of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is Duterte's personal choice for the Speaker of the House slot.
A meeting between Alvarez and the Visayas bloc members was arranged on Wednesday to speak about the declaration of support. Benitez was aiming for at least 45 names.
The declaration signed by 30 lawmakers from the Visayas region stated of these lawmakers' intent to extend their cooperation and support to the incoming Duterte administration in its pursuit of development and enactment of pro-people and developmental policies and programs for our country.
Around one third of the signatures found in the declaration belonged to representatives under the Liberal Party. These signatories are: Rep. Jerry Treñas, Richard Garin and ARthur Defensor Jr. of Iloilo City; Cesar V. Sarmiento of Catanduanes; Paolo Javier of Antique and Gerald Gullas of Cebu. AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin, a sister-in-law of outgoing Health Secretary Janette Garin, also signed the declaration
Other representatives who signed the declaration were Lucille Nava of Guimaras; Henry Ong of Leyte; Raul Tupas of Iloilo; Melecio Yap and Manuel Sagarbarris of Negros Occidental; Greg Gasataya of Bacolod City, and Arnie Teves of Negros Oriental.
Alvarez has gained enough votes to ensure the win of the speakership race despite PDP-laban having only three members in the house. Just 12 days after the elctions, Alvarez was able to get support from the Lakas CMD, the Nationalist People's Coalition, the National Unity Party and Nacionalista Party.
Alvarez earlier said that he expected at least 50 members of the 114 LP members in the House to join the coalition.
What now Belmonte?
Butch Abad, an LP stalwart who is also outgoing Budget Secretary, said on Saturday that the future of LP in the House of Representative depended on whether Belmonte would challenge Alvarez for the speakership.
Abad said that members of the Liberal Party in the house falling out is something that they've expected to happen.
He said that it is important that Belmonte conducts a meeting and tells us what his plans are, and talk about whether to support the incoming administration and create a coalition with PDP- laban.
But Belmonte already conceded defeat in the battle for the speakership a day after gathering close to 100 party members at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel on Thursday.
Belmonte has not given a decision whether he is going to join and lead the minority floor but a source told reporters that Belmonte himself initiated the bulk of LP members to the majority bloc after meeting Alavrez at his home weeks ago.
The source, who is an LP member, refused to be identified because he wasn't in any authority to speak for the party. He added that Belmonte decided it would benefit the bulk of LP members more to join the majority coalition but remain in the LP.
Belmonte, the source said, agreed to the bulk of the members joining the majority to prevent the disintegration of the party.
Alvarez said there was no need for the Liberals to move to PDP-Laban if they wanted to join Duterte’s coalition for change.
Alvarez mentioned that moving political parties wasn't a requisite to join Duterte's coalition of change but if Belmonte and the LP chooses to be in the minority, then the liberals who prefer joining the majority would be required to transfer to PDP-Laban and swear allegiance.
Alvarez is confident that the minority bloc in the 17th Congress will be reduced to just 20 members at most.