5 from PDP-Laban among 32 turncoats to Marcos party
More politicians, including five congressmen from the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party of former President Rodrigo Duterte, have switched to President Marcos’ political party, 18 months ahead of the midterm elections in May 2025.
The 32 new members of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) include eight members of the House of Representatives and a top Cabinet official as well as several members of his family. Mr. Marcos witnessed their oathtaking in Malacañang on Friday afternoon.
The lawmakers who joined the PFP are Representatives Marlyn Primicias-Agabas of Pangasinan, Linabelle Villarica of Bulacan, Florida Robes of San Jose del Monte City, Ralph Wendel Tulfo of Quezon City, Maria Jamina Katherine Agarao of Laguna, Leody Tarriela of Occidental Mindoro, Richard Gomez of Leyte and Francisco Benitez of Negros Occidental.
Agarao was also joined by her father, former Rep. Benjamin Agarao Jr. Except for Tulfo who was from the Nacionalista Party, Agarao who was previously with the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, and Tarriela of the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan, all the others were from PDP-Laban.Local officialdom
Before the oathtaking of new PFP members last Friday, Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos III led 14 governors and other officials in joining his father’s party in August.
This time, the top recruits from the local officialdom were Quirino Gov. Dax Cua, president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (Ulap), and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos.
Formed in 1998, Ulap gained the imprimatur of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she issued Executive Order No. 351 in 2004, “recognizing (Ulap) as the umbrella organization of all the leagues of local government units and leagues and federations of local elective and appointive officials.”
Abalos, whose family was also once affiliated with the PDP-Laban, joined the PFP together with his father, Mandaluyong Mayor Benjamin Abalos Sr., his wife, Vice Mayor Carmelita Abalos, and their children, Councilors Benjamin Abalos III and Charisse Abalos-Vargas.
Other recruits from Mandaluyong City are Darwin Fernandez, president of the city’s barangay captains, and Councilors Estanislao Lim III, Reginald Antiojo, Michael Eric Cuejillo, Leslie Cruz, Danilo de Guzman, Carrisa Mariz Manalo, Michael Ocampo, Rodolfo Posadas, Alexander Sta. Maria, Antonio Suva Jr. and Anjelo Elton Yap.Rounding up the new party members are Mayors Myca Elizabeth Vergara of Cabanatuan City, Henry Villarica of Meycauayan City, Imelda Calixto-Rubiano of Pasay City, Lucy Torres-Gomez of Ormoc City and Antonio Bendita of Surallah, South Cotabato.
‘Game of addition’
Marcos adopted the PFP, which had never won in an election, as his political party when he ran for President in 2022. But he also welcomed his endorsement by a faction of the PDP-Laban led by then Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
PDP-Laban was formed in 1983 with the merger of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino, led by then Cagayan de Oro Mayor Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and the Lakas ng Bayan party of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. The two were the leading critics of the regime of Mr. Marcos’ father and namesake.During the recruitments in August the President said: “As the saying goes, politics is a game of addition. Just like what I said during the election campaign, no matter who they are, no matter what their political colors are, if they are willing to help, why don’t we include them?”