The Liberal Party (LP) is not slowly fading into the sunset.
Quite the opposite, apparently, since Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is working on the LP signing a coalition agreement with the incoming ruling party PDP-Laban while bidding to be the House Minority Leader at the same time in the next Congress.
If this plan pans out, there will be LP members both in the House Majority and Minority blocs.
Under the Rules of the House, the loser in the Speakership race will get to sit as the House Minority leader.
“We [in the LP]have never signed a single contract with PDP-Laban yet. They [in the PDP-Laban]signed [a pact]with NPC, NP…and we [in the LP]also want to sign with them and be treated in the same parity,” Belmonte, who will be contesting Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez of the PDP-Laban for the Speakership, said.
NPC is the Nationalist People’s Coalition and NP, the Nacionalista Party.
Belmonte means that LP members should not be made to leave the party to join PDP-Laban because those from NPC and NP made it thru the Majority bloc led by PDP-Laban without leaving their respective political parties.
NPC is the second largest political party in the country led by food and brewery tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. while the NP is led by former Sen. Manuel Villar.
Both parties have coalesced with PDP-Laban in writing to form the Majority bloc of the House of Representatives.
During Belmonte’s Speakership in 15th and 16th Congress, there were also Lakas-CMD members who both belong to the Majority bloc and the Minority bloc.
Camarines Norte Rep. Rolando Andaya and Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) Rep. Magi Gunigundo of Lakas-CMD belonged to the Majority bloc, while their partymates Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla and Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez were in the Independent Minority bloc led by Romualdez.
The LP has 44 members who were elected to the 17th Congress.
Belmonte said he is contesting the Speakership to be eligible for the House Minority Leader post and serve as the opposition leader in the House of Representatives.
“My inclination is to be the leader of the Minority. We can’t be in a situation where there is no Minority. We need that. It is not a democracy without the Minority,” he added.
“He was elected by the people and the expectations are high. We will give the new President all the chances to make good on what he has been saying, as along as it is within the Constitution and legal limits,” Belmonte, a lawyer, said, referring to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Alvarez earlier said he is not too keen on having LP members as part of the House Majority bloc, noting that these LP lawmakers who want to be a part of the Majority should instead jump ship to PDP-Laban.
LLANESCA T. PANTI