The ruling Liberal Party (LP) is not “aggressively recruiting” new members in the House of Representatives, but those who share its vision and commitment are welcome to join the majority coalition, said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
Belmonte, the LP vice chairman, on Wednesday sought to dispel rumors that the LP was targeting members of other political parties ahead of President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 23.
“When I took over, it was possible to recruit [them] because virtually all of them were volunteering to join the LP,” Belmonte said.
But he noted that up to now, there were only 87 LP party members out of 284 House representatives, “evidence that we are not trying to recruit anybody or trying to get anybody.”
Welcome to join
“[But] if they want to join and they are compatible with us, then okay,” he said.
But Belmonte would encourage those from the formerly dominant Lakas party who want to join the majority bloc to just form their own group, and not join the LP.
“Those people [former Lakas members turned LP] represent their constituents. They are not necessarily supporters of anybody,” he said.
He said a local official has to have a good relationship with people in the administration, “whoever they may be,” in order to get the most for his constituents, citing his own experience as Quezon City mayor.
“It does not necessarily mean that they are subservient, or they will be later blacklisted or anything like that. In many cases, those local government units require national aid. It’s a necessity,” he said.
For the 2013 elections, Belmonte said the LP would like its candidates to come from its own majority coalition in the House.
Not having opposition candidates would not be healthy for the country, he said.
“It is necessary that an alternative will be presented as well,” he said.
Belmonte recalled that when he became Speaker, it was suggested that everyone in the House just get together as one group, but he rejected it.
“We have to have opposition in the House. It can’t be that all of us are from the majority coalition,” he said.
He said the present House setup is “more or less okay” with the once-dominant Lakas, which started out with 120 House members, now down to 30, thereby constituting the opposition.
Meanwhile, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. is keenly observing what becomes of the proposal floated by San Juan Representative JV Ejercito for the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to form a “super coalition” with the LP.
“[It] would be interesting to see what Erap [deposed President Joseph Estrada] and Senator Jinggoy Estrada will now do that their own kin (JV) suggests coalescing with the Liberal Party,” said Pimentel.