The Partido Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP)-Laban party of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte is having a tough time recruiting Duterte’s foot soldiers in the House of Representatives.
The recruitment has been snagged by lawmakers tending to join other political parties that had signed a coalition agreement with the PDP-Laban rather than join Duterte’s party.
The PDP-Laban has already signed coalition pacts with the Nacionalista Party (NP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and National Union Party (NUP) and with 57 allied party-list lawmakers.
As of latest count, at least 210 lawmakers from the PDP-Laban and its allied political parties and party-list groups will form the majority bloc in the House.
But of the 210, there are only 67 lawmakers who are PDP-Laban members or 23 percent of the chamber.
This is in contrast to the at least 174-strong majority bloc in the 15th Congress in 2010 wherein the bulk of them (90 lawmakers) were from then President-elect Benigno Aquino 3rd’s Liberal Party.
The rest of the 174 were from NP (16), NPC (38) and NUP (30).
Excluded from the 174 are party-list groups allied with the LP.
By the 16th Congress, the majority bloc had at least 185 members.
Of this number, 110 lawmakers were from the LP, 35 legislators from the NPC, 24 from the NUP and 16 from the NP.
Also excluded from the 185 were the LP’s allied party-list groups.
Outgoing Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., LP vice chairman, said the partyyis yet to decide on whether to join the Duterte allies in Congress because the PDP-Laban wants to limit the number of members of the political parties that want to join the so-called super majority coalition in the House of Representatives.
“Gusto nila [PDP-Laban], 20 lang [ang sasali sa majority coalition]. Saan pupunta ‘yung iba [What the PDP-Laban wants is for our party to have 20 members joining the majority. Where will our other members go then]?” Belmonte told reporters in a chance interview.
He was at the House of Representatives on Tuesday for turnover of a bronze statue of national hero Jose Rizal and of the original copy of the 1935 Constitution–Belmonte’s erstwhile collection that he donated to the chamber.
“If we are [fewer]than 20, then there’s no problem,” according to Belmonte.
At least 50 LP members stayed with the party even after the defeat of LP standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd in the May polls.
And despite having a meeting with Duterte in Davao City recently, Belmonte could not say if the LP remains determined to join the super majority coalition led by Duterte’s PDP-Laban.
“The LP is not a party with one opinion [at this point]. Our members have differing views in different situations,” he said when asked how committed is LP to securing an alliance with the PDP-Laban.
Belmonte offered unsolicited advice.
“I understand that they had to recruit. They need the numbers to govern Congress. When we also came in 2010, we [in the LP]were not the biggest party. But it only took a little while when the recruitment was stopped,” he said.
During Belmonte’s Speakership in the 15th and 16th Congresses, the members of other political parties such as the NP, NPC and NUP were allowed to join the minority or the opposition bloc even if the LP had an alliance with these political parties.
“That’s because I have maintained good relations with them. I’ve treated them fairly, equally…given them recognition. It is on these bases that I made allies, rather than forcing them to join the party,” the Speaker said.