NPC allies with Duterte’s PDP-Laban, backs Alvarez for Speaker
The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the country’s second biggest political party, on Friday signed a support agreement to become the coalition partner of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the party of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Leaders of both parties signed the agreement in a meeting at Makati Diamond Residences.
In his speech, NPC president Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said the party was committing to support Duterte’s legislative agenda.
Duterte’s legislative agenda includes the reinstatement of the death penalty and the amendment of the 1987 Constitution to change the country’s system of government to federal.
Aggabao said the party would also support incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, who is Duterte’s choice for Speaker of the House.
“Today, the NPC will be signing an important agreement with PDP-Laban. This basically covers two items: first, an agreement that binds the NPC to support President Rodrigo Duterte and second, an agreement to support Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez as next Speaker of the House of Representatives,” Aggabao said.
“We’re hoping that with this agreement, the NPC as a huge political party will continue to support the legislative agenda of the incoming administration,” he added.
Aggabao has shifted his support to Duterte after wooing NPC into supporting the presidential candidacy of Sen. Grace Poe, who placed third in the unofficial count.
PDP-Laban president Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III thanked NPC for agreeing to be their coalition partners in Congress. The party has three incoming representatives in the 17th Congress, while NPC has 44.
Pimentel said he hoped NPC would support PDP-Laban’s push for a federal form of government as a way to instigate change in the country.
“Let us give the idea (of federalism) a chance—the all-out search for peace in our lands, the all-out war against crime, drugs and corruption, the expansion of the middle-class tax reform, the focus on the daily concerns of the common man, and of course this concept of inclusive growth, where we make the benefits of the growing economy felt up to the lowest levels of society,” Pimentel said.
“We are hoping the NPC could start studying and adjusting their perspective on federalism. Maybe you did not consider this before. Let’s give this a chance,” he added.
Present at the signing of the “coalition for change” were Senator-elect Sherwin Gatchalian, an NPC member who ran under Poe; NPC chair Faustino Dy Jr.; and PDP-Laban vice chair Alfonso Cusi, who is Duterte’s choice for energy secretary.
Spotted in the audience were incoming Marikina representative and former Metro Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando, incoming 1-Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero, former budget secretary and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, who earlier supported Poe, and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas of Liberal Party.
Incoming Albay Rep. Joey Salceda was seen in the audience but he went out just before the signing of support. Salceda, who jumped ship from Liberal Party to support Poe, recently declared support for Duterte. The incoming President is eyeing Salceda as National Economic Development Authority director general.
After signing the agreement, the members of the new partnership struck the fist pose of Duterte as a gesture of their shared agreement to support the future President’s “change” coalition in Congress.
Earlier, Nacionalista Party, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, and the party-list bloc aligned with PDP-Laban, bolstering the numbers of Duterte’s allies to propel Alvarez to the speakership.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is seeking to reclaim the post counting on the support of a hundred Liberal Party members, but he has recently declared that with the numbers favoring Alvarez, Duterte’s pick is sure to win the Congress leadership. CDG/rga/RC
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