Five lawmakers left the Liberal Party (LP) on Wednesday, May 10, to join Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Among the LP members who were sworn in before PDP-Laban secretary-general and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez were Lanao del Sur Rep. Ansaruddin Adiong, Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas.
With the recent transfer, the LP is now left with 27 members in the chamber—22 of which earlier signed a coalition agreement with PDP-Laban, while the remaining five are part of the opposition bloc.
The LP was the ruling party during the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino II, its chairman. Most members, however, started joining PDP-Laban since Duterte assumed leadership last year.
Roman said she joined the party to show her support toward the president.
“My message…is I want to help the president and this administration to succeed because the success of the president in this administration is the success of the entire nation. And the failure of the president in this administration is the failure of the entire nation,” she added.
Vargas, meanwhile, said that he was “heeding the request and will of his constituents.”
He went on to say, “At the end of the day, we’re all Filipinos and ang gusto lang naman natin mag-unite tayong lahat, magtulungan tayo, para sa ikagaganda ng ating bansa (all want we want is unity, helping each other for the betterment of our country).”
While expressing disappointment at the transfer of his former party mates, Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo, however, said he 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,” said Quimbo, who is also the highest-ranking Liberal in the House.
He further 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.”
Apart from five LP members, five other legislators also switched to PDP-Laban.
They were Camiguin Rep. Xavier Romualdo, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Divina Grace Yu, and Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lañete.
Albano and Arbison were from the Nacionalista Party. Lañete and Yu were from Nationalist People’s Coalition. Romualdo used to be from LP before transferring to Lakas-CMD in February.
With the new recruits, the thriving PDP-Laban now has 121 members out of the 292 seats in the House of Representatives.
“It only goes to show that more and more people are supporting the president,” Alvarez told a press briefing.
LP members Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte and city councilor Gian Carlo Sotto were also sworn in by Senate President Koko Pimentel, the PDP-Laban’s president.
Unlike her, however, Belmonte said her father, Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. will remain in the LP.
“No, he won’t,” the younger Belmonte replied when asked if her father will also join PDP-Laban. “He will retire from politics after this last term. He will retire an LP [member].”