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More LP members defect to PDP-Laban

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Three Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts defected to the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) yesterday afternoon “for love of country.”

Ilocos Sur second district Rep. Eric Singson, Pangasinan third district Rep. Rosemarie Arenas and Abra Rep. JB Bernos took their oath of alliance before Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez at a hotel in Quezon City.

PDP-Laban is the party of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte, while LP is the party of outgoing President Aquino. PDP-Laban is the emerging party in power.

Founded by former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. in 1984, PDP-Laban was the biggest political party during and after the 1986 people power revolution. The party catapulted the late Corazon Aquino to the presidency after the revolution.

Alvarez, whom Duterte reportedly endorsed as speaker of the House of Representatives, defended Singson, Arenas and Bernos.

Alvarez maintained that the three lawmakers are not turncoats because they are only thinking of supporting Duterte for the change he desires for the country.

“We all know that our president (Duterte) is for the institution of meaningful change. We need to support him. I am not looking at it as turncoatism but as love for the country,” he said.

Alvarez also invited other lawmakers to join PDP-Laban.

The PDP-Laban earlier got the support of other LP members, including Ilocos Norte first district Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, Quezon City first district Rep. Bingbong Crisologo and the wife of Isabela first district Rep. Rodito Albano III.

As of yesterday, over 60 out of 115 LP members in the House of Representatives formally signified their intention to join the majority bloc.

The remaining LP members are expected to remain with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who is emerging to be the chamber’s next opposition leader.

“I really thank them (pro-majority LPs) for expressing they will support the incoming administration but I guess they have to sort things out because for me, it would be a bit awkward that there will be minority and majority members from the LP,” Alvarez told reporters after swearing in new PDP-Laban members in Makati City.

“I would prefer that those who want to join the majority will either join the PDP-Laban or other parties (formally) allied with PDP-Laban…it’s best if they join,” he said.

The invitation could be seen as some sort of pressure for the LP lawmakers who want to retain their leadership posts in the chamber.

When the 17th Congress opens on July 25, PDP-Laban is expected to have over 100 members or about a third of the House.

Yesterday, the 37-member Party-List Coalition (PLC), led by 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Michael Romero, forged an alliance with PDP-Laban.

Romero said by his count, he expects over 200 votes for Alvarez in the elections for speaker on July 25.

While the PLC and other parties – the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Lakas-CMD, and National Unity Party – have forged separate pacts with PDP-Laban, the “pro-majority” LP bloc has not yet done so, making it vulnerable to raiding.

Alvarez vowed a fair leadership where all parties will have an equitable share of leadership posts in the House. At stake are nearly a hundred chairmanships and vice chairmanships of regular and special committees.

The PDP-Laban is also waking up with new and former members returning to its fold to join Duterte’s campaign for federalism. – Robertzon Ramirez, Paolo Romero, Persues Echeminada, Artemio Dumlao

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