Ex-LP member Joy Belmonte woos coveted Duterte vote

Lian Buan
Ex-LP member Joy Belmonte woos coveted Duterte vote

Maria Salvador Tan

But ruling party PDP-Laban chooses to endorse Joy Belmonte's opponent, Bingbong Crisologo, for Quezon City mayor

MANILA, Philippines – Blood is thicker than water, or politics apparently, as seen in the Joy Belmonte-Gian Sotto proclamation rally on Friday, March 29, for the Quezon City local race.

Joy is running for Quezon City mayor while Gian is her vice-mayoral running mate.

The Belmontes, of course, have always been true-blue Liberal Party (LP), until Joy ditched the opposition in 2017 to jump ship to President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban.

Joy’s father, former House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, retired an LP, while her cousin, Quezon City 6th District Representative Kit Belmonte, is the Secretary General of LP and a key opposition figure at the House.

But on Friday night the Belmonte men sat down and smiled as Joy’s Serbisyo sa Bayan Party (SBP) campaigned for and with administration allies. After all, the rally was for Joy, never mind that Kit has to be there as the likes of Imee Marcos, Bong Go, and Bong Revilla are endorsed on the same stage.

“Masaya rin po akong ibalita sa inyo na ang aking liderato ay sinusuportahan din nang lubusan nina Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte at Mayor Inday Sara Duterte,” Joy told an energetic crowd along Tandang Sora in Quezon City, which was closed to traffic on a payday Friday night.

(I’m happy to report to you that President Rodrigo Duterte and Mayor Inday Sara Duterte fully support my leadership.)

THE BELMONTES. Quezon City 6th District Representative Kit Belmonte remains a Liberal Party stalwart while cousin Joy jumps ship to President Rodrigo Duterte's PDP-Laban. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

PDP conflict

Joy can claim she has President Duterte’s support, but it is a fact that her party PDP-Laban chose to endorse her opponent instead – Quezon City 1st District Representative Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo.

“Ilang okasyon na rin po ang naganap kung saan po itinaas nilang dalawa (Rodrigo at Sara Duterte) ang kamay namin ni Vice Mayor Gian Sotto upang ipahiwatig ang kanila pong pagtitiwala sa amin pong magiging pamumuno sa lungsod Quezon,” Joy said as father Sonny beamed from behind.

(There have been occasions when both of them raised my hands and Gian Sotto’s hands to show their support for our leadership in Quezon City.)

Crisologo held his campaign rally that same Friday night in Del Monte. PDP-Laban president and reelectionist senator Koko Pimentel went to Crisologo’s rally, while Koko’s mother Lourdes went to Joy’s.

Joy’s SBP is officially allied with Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP). HnP’s Imee Marcos is present at the Belmonte-Sotto campaign rally, which also points to an unrelated conflict within the administration bets. Koko and Imee have one irreconcilable issue – Koko’s father former senator Nene Pimentel fought against martial law.

At the Crisologo rally, PDP-Laban Quezon City Secretary-General Edwin Rodriguez mocked the “dilawans” (yellows) whereas at the Belmonte rally, Mayor Herbert Bautista told the story of how Cory Aquino made the wise choice of appointing Sonny as GSIS president and a vice president at GSIS that kept him in check.

It was an anecdote Bautista used to say that Joy was the vice mayor that kept him in check.

Sottos and Dutertes

There is less conflict for incumbent Quezon City councilor Gian Sotto, son of Senate President Tito Sotto, a Duterte ally.

Tito took with him to the Friday rally Eat Bulaga star Jose Manalo, as he vouched for his son. Gian also liked to mention Eat Bulaga to appeal to the show’s massive following.

But this is politics, and there is another appealing figure that could rival that of Tito, Vic, and Joey, and even AlDub – the President himself.

And so Gian made it clear that if he is elected vice mayor of Quezon City, he would emulate President Rodrigo Duterte, who he said is very similar to his father when it comes to anti-drugs and anti-corruption policies. 

“Ako po ay nakatutok sa pagpapalakas, pagpoprotekta, at pagbibigay-halaga sa pamilya laban sa iligal na droga at korapsyon,” Gian said. (I am focused on strengthening and protecting and giving importance to families against drugs and corruption.)

Quezon City’s anti-drug policies that served Duterte’s overall campaign sparked ire among human rights sectors, such as the putting up of drop boxes to report drug personalities and house to house visitations. (READ: The red mark)

Gian said he would push for better access to education, while still thanking Duterte for signing the Free Tuition Law. Joy said there would be better access to healthcare in her leadership, and that there would be more free housing in Quezon City so residents do not have to relocate to Rizal or Bulacan.

In his endorsement of the Belmonte-Sotto tandem, Bautista had only one pitch: “Ang tibay na nito eh, anak ng Speaker at anak ng Senate President, ano pa ang hahanapin mo?” (This is a solid tandem, daughter of a Speaker and son of a Senate President, what else are you looking for?) 

In today’s politics, where conflicts abound and lines are blurry, Quezon City voters would have to decide what their surnames count for. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.