Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Eleven members of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) formally took their oath before President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on Thursday, June 2.
Incoming and reelected LP congressmen such as Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro), Cesar Sarmiento (Catanduanes), Jerry Treñas (Iloilo City) and Zajid Mangudadatu (2nd District, Maguindanao) took their oath before PDP-Laban's bet for speaker, newly-elected Davao del Norte First Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.
The other LP congressmen are Jesus Sacdalan (1st District, North Cotabato), Renato Unico Jr (1st District, Camarines Norte), Deogracias Ramos Jr (2nd District, Sorsogon), Glona Labadlabad (2nd District, Zamboanga del Norte), Lucy Torres Gomez (4th District, Leyte), Lucille Nava (Guimaras), and Queenie Gonzales (Mandaluyong).
Gonzales is the wife of House Majority Floor Leader Neptali "Boyet" Gonzales II, who is on his third term.
Aside from LP lawmakers, Leyte 3rd District Representative Vicente Veloso of the National Unity Party, and Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnulfo Teves Jr of the Nationalist People’s Coalition also signed up for PDP-Laban.
More to come
Alvarez told reporters ahead of the oath-taking that more LP members are set to join the party in the coming days.
He did not disclose the specific number of LP members who are now part of their party. But PDP-Laban, which just won 3 congressional seats in the May 9 election, is now about a hundred-strong in the House, Alvarez said. (READ: Half of LP congressmen moving to Duterte's PDP-Laban – Alvarez)
"I think we will be hitting 80 or 100 now – not only from LP but also from other parties," Alvarez said.
He was also asked about the appeal of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr for LP members who wish to coalesce with PDP-Laban to remain with the LP. (READ: Belmonte: 'Sizeable number of LP members still on my side')
“It’s better if you are part of the majority party. Especially during [the] midterm [elections], of course the administration candidates have the advantage,” Alvarez responded in a mix of English and Filipino.
On May 23, a number of LP members signed an agreement supporting the speakership bid of Alvarez, but there is no formal coalition agreement between the LP and PDP-Laban.
Alvarez said the there is no agreement yet with the LP leadership but there have been suggestions for LP to join forces with Duterte’s party. – Rappler.com