MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) members at the House of Representatives decided to join the minority bloc, dropping any possible coalition agreements with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The decision of the LP since we're so few anyway is that we will fight to form the minority with myself as minority leader," outgoing House Speaker and Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr told Rappler in a phone call on Tuesday, July 19.
LP members Marikina 2nd District Representative Miro Quimbo, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, and Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr confirmed this as well.
The LP, the party of former president Benigno Aquino III, finalized its decision during a meeting Tuesday morning at the Crowne Plaza in Ortigas Center, Pasig.
"I always felt that was the natural course of things for LP. This will define the party's legacy in the Duterte administration – an objective intelligent fiscalizer and advocate for liberties," said Baguilat in a text message.
Lagman also considered gunning for the minority leadership, but only if Belmonte will not aim for it.
Incoming House Speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez previously said the LP was set to coalesce with PDP-Laban to join the so-called "supermajority" at the House this week.
A coalition agreement signing was scheduled between PDP-Laban and the LP on Tuesday evening, but it has been cancelled.
According to Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rudy Fariñas, this was because the LP has been "vacillating" on whether it will join the "supermajority" bloc or not.
"The PDP-Laban has been bending to accommodate all the LP's requests, even to have 30 or so members joining the majority coalition. But since June 7, which was the first agreed upon date for the signing of its coalition agreement with the PDP-Laban, the LP has been vacillating," said Fariñas, who is expected to be the majority floor leader. He used to be part of the LP.
Duterte's PDP-Laban currently has 93 members at the House.
More than 50 LP members, equivalent to half of the party membership in the House, also jumped ship to PDP-Laban.
Now, Belmonte said the LP still has around 30 to 35 members left.
Quimbo added that they "will seek to ask others who wish to be part of the minority also."