Alvarez bolsters Speaker bid with 80 lawmakers, 3-party alliance
Incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez is confident of wresting the speakership from Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s anointed one.
At a press briefing in Pasay City on Wednesday, Alvarez said he had secured 80 representatives from different parties to join the “coalition of change” led by his party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and support his bid as speaker in the incoming 17th Congress.
These lawmakers would form part of this coalition in Congress, he said, that would reduce the minority to a “bite size” number of 20.
“Yung iba, mayroon ng pasabi na nag-commit na, gusto ng lumipat sa amin sa PDP-Laban. May mga formalities lang na gagawin para maging regular members sila,” Alvarez said.
These lawmakers have crossed party lines from the ruling Liberal Party; Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), as of now the second biggest political party in Congress; National Unity Party (NUP); and the party-list bloc, which in the current Congress has some 40 representatives allied with the administration.
Alvarez, however, refused to reveal how many Liberals are jumping to the coalition.
Nacionalista Party earlier joined the coalition in an expression of support for Duterte. His running mate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who lost his vice presidential bid, belongs to Nacionalista.
A three-party alliance among NPC, NUP and Nacionalista would be enough to get the super majority vote of 150 of the estimated 290-member Congress, Alvarez said.
In a separate Inquirer report, Alvarez said he would get 180 members in the 17th Congress to his side against Belmonte’s Liberals who in the 16th Congress numbered around a hundred.
He said Nacionalista had around 50 members, NPC 80, NUP 40, and the party-list bloc some 30 to 40 representatives.
“Kapag nag-coalition ang tatlong malalaking partido, sobra-sobra pa,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said he was scheduled to talk with NUP for an alliance he called a “done deal.”
He said NPC also called him up for a meeting.
On top of the three-party alliance, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrat (Lakas-CMD) represented by outgoing Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez signed a covenant of unity with PDP-Laban vice chair Alfonso Cusi and Alvarez during the informal meeting of lawmakers in Pasay City.
Lakas-CMD is the political party of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, under hospital detention for plunder, and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., also detained for plunder over the pork barrel scam.
The party-list coalition also allied with PDP-Laban during the same gathering. Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said around 45 party-list representatives attended the meeting with Alvarez.
Duterte’s PDP-Laban will need all the alliances it can muster to propel Alvarez to the speakership, with only three members coming in as representatives in the 17th Congress.
Belmonte of Liberal Party said he was also rallying his allies to retain his post as Speaker.
Duterte is seeking the majority support of the House of Representatives to fulfill his legislative agenda against criminality, which includes the restoration of the death penalty abolished by Congress in 2006.
The presumptive president-elect has pushed for death penalty by hanging, at one point saying that a person who is charged with two heinous crimes should be hanged twice.
Alvarez said as speaker, he would push for the restoration of death penalty for heinous crimes.
He said under his leadership, capital punishment would be tackled within the first 100 days of Congress.
“We respect yung mga iba’t ibang opinions on the matter but the President campaigned on the basis of those platforms and the people voted for him, meaning meron siyang mandate to effect the necessary changes,” Alvarez said.
He said Duterte also wanted to amend the Constitution through a constitutional convention and time the plebiscite to ratify the amended Charter with the 2019 elections.
Alvarez said the mode of amending the Charter was still under discussion.
“The President is calling for a concon (constitutional convention), but we have to remember that there are three modes of revising the Constitution: the constitutional convention, constituent assembly and the people’s initiative,” he said.
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