MANILA, Philippines -- He did not have to leave Lakas-Kampi-CMD, his party of 15 years, because he was running unopposed in the congressional district of Mandaluyong City.
But Deputy Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II still decided to support Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III and his running mate Manuel ?Mar? Roxas II.
Gonzalez, a staunch ally of President Macapagal-Arroyo in the House, said he left the Lakas-Kampi-CMD not because of alleged funding problems hounding the ruling party.
?I did it because this is something that I believe in,? said the Mandaluyong representative in an interview with reporters.
Gonzales said his entry into the Liberal Party was a sort of homecoming because his father, the late Senate President Neptali Gonzales, was an LP member like the fathers of Aquino and Roxas in the 1960s.
The deputy majority leader said he grew up idolizing these men.
He admitted that his split with Lakas-Kampi was not easy because the President had been good to him.
Gonzales was teary-eyed when he spoke after being sworn in as an LP member by Aquino at the party headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City, together with Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez, a former Lakas member who turned independent in 2005.
Aquino, in an interview with reporters, hailed the entry of both Gonzales and Golez as it would help the Liberal Party consolidate its forces in the House.
?We still expect more to arrive and our negotiations with most of them is not to come out openly for us at this point. We are heading to the last two minutes of the campaign, we have to be ready for any eventuality and we need close coordination,? said Aquino.
When asked if he expected to control the House if he won, Aquino replied: ?I go back to historical precedent, that there is no House of Congress that is hostile to the administration.?