MANILA, Philippines – The numbers of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) continue to dwindle in the House after Biliran Representative Gerardo "Gerryboy" Espina Jr joined the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD).
House Majority Leader and Lakas-CMD president Martin Romualdez said on Wednesday, February 19, that he administered Espina’s oath as Lakas-CMD member, the latest administration-allied congressman to bolt PDP-Laban.
“We will continue to solidify and strengthen our political influence nationwide,” Romualdez said in a statement.
Espina’s oath-taking was witnessed by key Lakas-CMD members: Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay Jr, Lapu-Lapu Representative Paz Radaza, Pampanga 2nd District Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo, and Capiz 2nd District Representative Fredenil Castro.
With Espina among their ranks, Lakas-CMD now has a total of 30 members and allies in the House: 15 congressional lawmakers as members and 15 party-list legislators who signed a coalition agreement with Lakas-CMD.
Though not a major party in the House in terms of membership, Lakas-CMD is still influential given its ties with its longtime member, former president turned House speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as well as Romualdez, the second most powerful official in the lower chamber
While PDP-Laban remains the biggest bloc in the House, its members are now down to just 62 from 85 at the start of the 18th Congress, according to party stalwart and Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel.
On the same day Espina left PDP-Laban, Pimentel strongly backed the proposal to insert strong anti-turncoatism provisions in the Constitution.
“So ang nangyayari po dito eh nakakahiya na. Dapat eh matapos na 'yung panahon ng mga balimbing. Hintuin na natin itong ugali na wala tayong mga prinsipyo, wala tayong pinapanindigan," Pimentel said during a hearing of the House committee on constitutional amendments. (READ: Party switching: 'Perversion' of political system)
(What's happening here is so embarrassing. The time of the turncoats should end. We should put a stop to the practice of politicians not standing up for their principles.) – Rappler.com