MANILA, Philippines – The supermajority bloc at the House of Representatives (HOR) is only getting bigger.
Presumptive Speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez said that the Liberal Party (LP) is set to coalesce with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
“We intend to sign the coalition agreement by next week,” said Alvarez on Wednesday, July 13.
Outgoing Speaker and Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr told Rappler on Wednesday that he paid a “courtesy call” on Duterte Wednesday afternoon.
He said that LP’s alliance with PDP-Laban, which now has 93 members, is still “in the works.” LP was the ruling administration party during the term of former president Benigno Aquino III.
LP member and Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr said, however, that LP will finalize their decision as a party in a meeting Friday afternoon.
“Well, I’m sure our members will discuss the merits and demerits. But you see, there are those who already made up their minds to join the minority and have expressed their sentiments. And vice versa,” Baguilat said in a text message.
“So we will tackle the group decision first then address the individual options of those who won’t join the party stand,” he added.
Since Duterte’s victory, lawmakers have formed coalition agreements with PDP-Laban: Around 50 from the Nacionalista Party, 80 from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, 40 from the National Unity Party, and 5 from Lakas-CMD.
Thirty-seven party-list representatives also declared their support for Alvarez and PDP-Laban.
More than 50 LP members, equivalent to half of the party membership in the House, also jumped ship to PDP-Laban.
These include 5 ex-LP legislators who took their oath before Alvarez at the Makati Diamond Residences on Wednesday:
- Davao Occidental Representative Lorna Bautista-Bandigan
- Batangas 3rd District Representative Ma Theresa Collantes
- Zamboanga Sibugay 2nd District Representative Ann Hofer
- Maguindanao 1st District Representative Bai Sandra Sema
- Compostella Valley 1st District Representative Maricar Zamora
They were also joined by Laguna 3rd District Representative Mirasol Aragones, who was with the United Nationalist Alliance.
This means PDP-Laban has a total of 93 members apart from the supermajority bloc members, the highest in the lower chamber.
Alvarez previously said he prefers that LP members switch to PDP-Laban instead of just signing a coalition agreement, but he has changed his mind.
Asked on Wednesday if LP would be allowed to keep its remaining members, Alvarez said, “I don’t have a problem with that. Okay lang sa ‘kin ‘yan (That’s fine by me).” – Rappler.com