In the end, LP opts to join majority bloc
FORMER Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and the Liberal Party (LP) have scuttled their plan to lead the opposition in the 17th Congress and instead will join the allies of President Duterte in the majority coalition.
Belmonte confirmed the news in a text message to the Inquirer yesterday.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas earlier told the Inquirer he received a phone call from Belmonte requesting a meeting with incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to sign a majority coalition agreement between the LP and the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) today, one day before the opening of the 17th Congress.
“SB (Sonny Belmonte) just called me to say he is not running for Speaker and the LP will join the majority,” said Fariñas.
The battle for the speakership had long been settled with the PDP-Laban poaching the LP’s ranks to build up its roster from three members elected last May 9 to 100 just days before the July 25 opening of Congress.
The LP has been reduced to 30 members and roughly 10 allies from party-list groups led by Akbayan. This would have been enough to win Belmonte the minority leadership.
But the emergence of Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) as a serious contender in the minority leader race apparently moved Belmonte and the LP to think twice about their plan not to join the majority coalition, which includes the Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Unity Party, Nacionalista Party and the party-list bloc.
Reports had it that Alvarez had met with Suarez and former Vice President Jejomar Binay and pledged to assist UNA’s bet in the minority leader race.
Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo said Belmonte told party members he was setting aside his personal goal to lead the minority “in deference to the position of former President Noynoy Aquino for the LP to join the majority coalition.”
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