LP to join majority

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THE Liberal Party (LP) will join the majority coalition with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) since Speaker Feliciano Belmonte is no longer joining the race for the House speakership in the 17th Congress, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said.

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“SB [Sonny Belmonte] just called me to say he is not running for speaker and the LP will join the majority. He is requesting to sign the Coalition Agreement tomorrow upon the return of Rep. [Pantaleon] Alvarez to Manila from Davao,” Fariñas said.

This was confirmed by Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, Belmonte’s colleague in LP.

We talked and he told me I’ve chosen to set aside my personal goal to run for the minority leadership if only in deference and respect to the position [of]former president Benigno Aquino 3rd for LP to be in the majority coalition,” Quimbo said.

Belmonte is LP vice chairman. The party’s titular head is Vice President Leni Robredo.

On Tuesday, Belmonte said the LP will not be joining the majority coalition because the PDP-Laban had already distributed committee chairmanships to members of other parties that joined the coalition.

“Our numbers are slowly being dissipated by imposing a 20 member limit on us while eroding our membership. The remaining ones chose to be minority w[ith]me as candidate for minority leader,” he said.

But Alvarez denied imposing such a condition.

“We were able to talk. He asked if it was okay to be a minority, I don’t have a problem with that,” he said.

Flying voters
Also on Saturday, Rep. Edcel Lagman claimed that the emerging majority at the House recruited 50 “flying voters” to ensure that Rep. Danilo Suarez will win the race for the minority leadership.

“Despite the denial of incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, it is now an open secret that the super majority has recruited from among its ranks a contingent of about 50 “flying voters” to assure the victory of Rep. Danilo Suarez as the majority’s “minority leader,” Lagman said in a statement.

He claimed that “transferees” to the supposedly favored minority faction was parceled out among the majority coalition partners with 15 reportedly imposed on one group of party-list representatives and the rest from majority allies including some new members of the PDP-Laban.

Lagman had earlier expressed fear over what he said was the possible emergence of a “co-opted minority.” He urged his colleagues not to allow themselves to be used in the alleged scheme which he described as one that “bastardizes the process of selecting a minority leader and subverts the tenets of checks and balances.”

When questioned on the allegation that the majority will vote for Suarez, Alvarez said the public should wait for the outcome of the House voting on Monday.

“Was that what they did last Congress, in the 16th Congress? Maybe they are afraid of their own ghosts,” he said.

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