The political party that catapulted presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte to the highest post in the land has formed a coalition with the reputedly second-largest political party in the country in a move seen aimed at ensuring dominance of the House of Representatives.
Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) sealed the deal on Friday, or a few days after PDP-Laban coalesced with the Nacionalista Party (NP) and dozens of party-list groups.
The NPC is headed by business tycoon Eduardo ”Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
The coalition is seen auguring well for the Speakership bid of newly elected Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, who had been handpicked by Duterte to be the next House leader.
“We have a minimum of 180 members of the coalition [supportive of my Speakership bid]. I already talked to Speaker Belmonte yesterday [Thursday]. Our meeting went well, the Speaker said he would be supportive of President Duterte’s call for change. Lalaban pa rin siya [He will still fight for] the Speakership, and we see him be ing the Minority [Leader],” Alvarez said on Friday, referring to incumbent Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of the Liberal Party (LP).
The Davao del Norte congressman-elect added that PDP-Laban is also expected to ink a coalition pact with the National Union Party (NUP) headed by Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno.
“From here [meeting with the NPC], I have a scheduled meeting with NUP, hopefully within the day [we can agree],” Alvarez said in an interview.
In a separate interview, the PDP-Laban president, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, expressed confidence that Alvarez already has the Speakership of the 17th Congress in the bag with the party’s coalition with the NPC now in place.
There are 44 NPC members who will be sitting as district representatives in the 17th Congress, on top of the party’s nine allied party-list representatives.
“He [Alvarez] has 180 out of the 300-member Congress. That should be enough, more than enough. And I am here [today]to tell them [lawmakers], why not extend such support to the Senate?” Pimentel said, referring to his bid to be the next Senate president.
“I am very optimistic that since we have new partners, we can pursue the agenda of the President and [Alvarez] will be the new Speaker of the House of Representatives,” the senator added.
The PDP-Laban earlier coalesced with the NP headed by former Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. and 47 party-list groups led by Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe.
The House Majority Floor Leader, according to Alvarez, would either be Rep. Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan City (Metro Manila) or Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte.
Camarines Norte Rep. Rolando Andaya, a former Budget chief who is an NPC member, was named by Alvarez as possible chairman of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations.
Alvarez, however, refused to name LP members who will be shifting allegiance to the PDP-Laban.
“There are a lot who want to join us. We will know next week. If there are others who would still want to join us, they are welcome. The possibilities are endless,” he said.
The LP is headed by outgoing President Benigno Aquino 3rd.