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MANILA, Philippines – Veteran politician and Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr has resigned from the Liberal Party (LP) in preparation for his “quiet retirement” from politics.
Belmonte confirmed this to Rappler on Friday, October 12, the same day he told the LP it is “unfair” to accuse Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of vindictiveness against former budget chief Florencio Abad and his late wife and Batanes congresswoman Henedina Abad.
“Yes, I did [retire] without joining any other party. Preparatory to graduating from politics at the end of this term at age 82,” said Belmonte, who is on his 3rd term as congressman.
Belmonte, who was House speaker during the 15th and 16th Congresses during then-president Benigno Aquino III’s term, resigned from LP through a letter addressed to party president and Senator Francis Pangilinan dated September 24, a copy of which was obtained by Rappler.
He said his decision to resign was finalized after consultations with his family and their constituents in Quezon City.
“[A]fter careful and deliberate consultations with my family and our constituents, and in preparation for my quiet retirement from politics, I have come to a decision to resign from the Liberal Party,” said Belmonte, who was LP vice chairman.
Still, Belmonte said he considers having led the House as an LP member an “honor and privilege.”
“I will always be grateful for the confidence and trust given to me by our Chairman Emeritus, President Benigno S. Aquino III. I am likewise truly grateful for the unwavering support of the Liberal Party and the members of the House throughout my term,” Belmonte said in his LP resignation letter.
He was first elected as Quezon City congressman for 3 consecutive terms from 1992 to 2001. The first time he became House speaker, Belmonte was senior vice president for externals of Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats.
Belmonte then ran and won for Quezon City mayor from 2001 to 2009.
He jumped ship to LP in November 2009 and later ran under its banner as Quezon City 4th district congressman during the 2010 elections. Belmonte was victorious, and became speaker of the House from 2010 to 2016.
During the current 17th Congress, Belmonte chaired the new House special committee on the West Philippine Sea during the term of ex-speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.
When Alvarez was ousted and replaced by Arroyo in July, Belmonte was later named chairperson of the House committee on foreign affairs. – Rappler.com