Belmonte ‘shoo-in’ for Speaker post
MANILA, Philippines (Updated) - Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr of the Liberal Party (LP) is expected to retain leadership of the House of Representatives in the upcoming 16th Congress.
Results of the 2013 polls show the administration party got at least 109 House seats. It's not the majority of the total 292 seats, but LP's coalition partners are also expected to support Belmonte.
“I think he’s a shoo-in. Everyone will support the Speaker,” LP president Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya told Rappler.
(UPDATE: President Benigno Aquino III formalized on June 3 Belmonte's selection as LP candidate for the Speak post)
LP may gain more members in the House, said another LP stalwart Budget Secretary Butch Abad. "There are about 17 who are not affiliated. We helped some of them," Abad said. Among them is elected Dinagat Islands Rep Arlene "Kaka" Bag-ao who is expected to join the administration party. She is currently a representative of the Akbayan party list group.
"There's nobody but SB," added House majority leader re-elected Mandaluyong Rep Neptali Gonzales II, referring to Belmonte's initials.
To retain his position in the House, Belmonte will need at least 147 votes. There are 234 legislative districts and 58 party list seats. The 16th Congress will convene in the last week of July 2013.
The second biggest bloc in the House of Representatives is the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) of President Aquino's uncle, business tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. It won 43 seats. Together, LP and NPC can elect the Speaker.
NPC spokesperson Valenzuela City Rep Rex Gatchalian said the coalition between LP and NPC will stay. The party has not discussed the speakership but party leaders have been happy with Belmonte's leadership.
Acceptable to all
"Noteworthy to mention, though, in the current Congress the NPC members are extremely happy with the way the Speaker has been running the House," Gatchalian said. (Gatchalian was elected mayor of Valenzuela City. His brother, Sherwin, won his seat in Congress.)
The 3rd biggest bloc, the National Unity Party (NUP) will also continue to support Belmonte. It won 24 House seats.
"We will support Speaker Belmonte to retain his position," said NUP stalwart re-elected Cavite Rep Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
The Nacionalista Party of Sen Manuel Villar Jr is also a coaltion partner of the LP. It has at least 20 seats.
Belmonte won by a landslide in his 5th term as representative of the 4th District of Quezon City. Based on 76% of the votes transmitted to the Comelec Transparency Server, he got 93,888 votes against the 9,447 votes of Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino candidate Hans Palacios. (See results in Rappler's mirror server.)
Belmonte served his first 3 terms in the House of Representatives from 1992 to 2001. He later served 3 terms as mayor of Quezon City, 2001 to 2010, and then returned to the House in 2010.
In the 15th Congress, House members contemplated a unanimous vote for Belmonte's speakership. Belmonte previously told reporters he refused because he said there should be an opposition in the House.
Members of the House opposition, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, were Belmonte's party mates before he joined LP in 2010. - Rappler.com