LP backs Alvarez’s Speaker bid
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II on Monday said the Liberal Party (LP) has signed a manifesto of support for the speakership of incoming Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, the pick of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte as Speaker.
In an interview, the outgoing Mandaluyong representative said some of the Liberals had vowed to support Alvarez’s speakerhip candidacy over current Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of the administration party.
Belmonte said that these members remain to be with the LP instead of jumping ship to Duterte’s political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Belmonte would still contest the speakership but since Alvarez has the numbers because of several coalition agreements with other political parties, the outgoing Speaker would become minority leader.
Some members of the Liberal Party are aligning with Duterte’s party after the Davao City mayor beat administration candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II in the presidential race, according to the unofficial count.
Gonzales said some members of the ruling Liberal Party would align with Duterte’s Coalition for Change but would remain members of the party.
He said the Liberal Party signed the same support agreement that the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the country’s second biggest political party, signed with the PDP-Laban.
The PDP-Laban only has three members in the incoming 17th Congress, including Alvarez.
“It was more of the expression of support to the speakership of Bebot Alvarez and the legislative goal of the incoming President,” Gonzales said.
“Ang pakiusap (ni Belmonte), yung mga members na will align with the majority would remain as members of the LP,” he added.
Gonzales said no less than 70 Liberals attended the meeting with Belmonte Monday afternoon, when Belmonte announced that he would remain with the Liberal to lead the minority.
Gonzales even quoted Belmonte, who refused to talk with the media, as saying “Matanda na ako para bumalimbing (I am too old to be a turncoat).”
Gonzales said it has happened before that members of a political party have aligned themselves with the new ruling party or even were both members of the majority and the minority at the same time.
“This is not uncharted territory because there were instances when members belonging to the same political party have aligned themselves either with the majority or minority at the same time,” Gonzales said.
Duterte is consolidating his forces in the Lower House to push for his legislative agenda, which includes the reinstatement of the death penalty and the amendment of the Constitution through a Constitutional Convention to convert the country’s system of government to a federal system.
Seen as a big boost to Alvarez’s speakership bid are PDP-Laban’s coalition agreements with major political parties, including the NPC, the biggest political party next to the Liberal Party with 44 incoming representatives; the Nacionalista Party; the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats; the party-list bloc, and the Visayas bloc.
Belmonte has practically conceded defeat in the race for speakership, and was quoted in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report as saying he would be leading the minority, although he does not know who its members would be.
Belmonte would be leading the minority with some Liberals who decided to stick it out with the outgoing Speaker.
The report said at least 80 Liberals, or 70 percent of its total 116 members, would align themselves with Duterte’s Coalition for Change.
Alvarez has said he has 180 lawmakers on his side to propel him to the Speaker post. RAM/rga
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