5 lawmakers bolt Liberal Party to join Duterte’s PDP-Laban party
Five more Liberal Party (LP) lawmakers on Wednesday joined President Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP)-Laban party.
Five lawmakers from other parties also transferred to the ruling party that now boasts 121 members out of the 292 seats in the House of Representatives.
The latest round of defections from the decimated LP was led by the country’s first transgender congresswoman, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, along with Quezon City Representatives Alfred Vargas and Winston Castelo, Lanao del Sur Rep. Ansaruddin Adiong, and North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco.
“I joined the PDP-Laban because I wanted to show my support to the President … I want this administration to succeed,” Roman said.
In a statement, Vargas said he was “heeding the request and will of his constituents.”
The LP transfers would bring down to 27 the number of Liberals in the chamber, from 32, a far cry from its membership of 100-plus Liberals during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
The defections started soon after the LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas was defeated by Mr. Duterte in last year’s polls.
By contrast, the PDP-Laban, previously a virtual nonentity in the 292-seat House with only three original members, has further strengthened its membership base to 121, according to Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.
Camiguin Rep. Xavier Romualdo of Lakas, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III of Nacionalista Party, and Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Divina Grace Yu and Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lañete of the Nationalist People’s Coalition also joined PDP-Laban.
The new recruits took their oath before Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the PDP-Laban’s secretary general, at the Social Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
“It only goes to show that more and more people are supporting the President,” Alvarez told a press briefing.
Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo, the highest-ranking Liberal in the House, said he was disappointed by the actions of the former LP members but understood their motivations.
“It’s painful, especially as we now consider each other family. It’s like losing a brother or a sister. It’s doubly more painful considering that those who have remained, including those who are leaving this afternoon, have been through a lot of trials already,” he said.
He added: “They’ve been convinced that the best way to get reelected is by joining the majority party. These are political realities that face many leaders.”
Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte said the defections were motivated by local concerns.
“At the end of the day … it’s difficult to be LP in times like this,” he said in an interview.
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