The Liberal Party (LP) is not divided, members of the ruling administration party in Congress said on Sunday.
This was in response to an observation that the LP, which is led by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, is fragmented, considering that Congress adjourned sine die last week without the passage of key measures such as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the economic Charter change or Cha-cha.
“It wasn’t a party problem at all, so same had no effect on the LP and vice versa,” House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. told The Manila Times in a text message.
Belmonte, also LP vice chairman, decided not to put into a vote his proposed economic Cha-Cha last Wednesday after he failed to get the needed number to pass the measure, which seeks to lift the 40-percent limit on foreign ownership of public utilities, land and media.
Meanwhile, deliberations on the draft BBL in the House of Representatives will resume on July 27 when Congress reconvenes for its third and final regular session as Aquino delivers his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) before he steps down in 2016.
Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte, who leads the House independent bloc, has said Congress’ failure to pass key legislation shows that the President “is losing its control over its men in the House of Representatives.”
But when asked on Romualdez’s observation, Liberal Party secretary-general Mel Senen Sarmiento said, “Not true.”
“Almost everyone was present,” added Sarmiento, also Western Samar congressman.
Rep. Jerry Treñas of Iloilo, who leads the LP’s membership and organizing committee, also disagreed with Romualdez and said, “The Liberal Party is solidly behind Speaker [Belmonte].”
“The LP is the strongest most organized party in the country today and it will not be surprising that the opposition will be trying its best to divide the party,” Treñas added when asked if division in the party is expected considering that the 2016 polls are nearing.
Another member of the LP, Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar said, “The LP is not divided. Of course we had hope that the two important measures would be approved. But that is the nature of Congress being a deliberative and collective body. We just have to respect the decision of the leadership and the members of Congress.”
“We are still very hopeful that the BBL, Cha-cha and other vital measures will be approved after SONA,” Evardone added.