SOME 30 lawmakers from the Visayas region led by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, a former member of the Liberal Party (LP), have joined the PDP-Laban and expressed support for the speakership bid of Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.
Benitez, one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives for his command over the so-called Visayas bloc, was among those being eyed to replace Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
The PDP-Laban coalition in the House is composed of the Nacionalista Party, Lakas-CMD, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Partylist Coalition and National Unity Party.
Benitez and his group bolted the LP last year after a falling out with Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd who lost to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the presidential race.
Benitez recently led the signing of the declaration of support for the incoming Speaker for the 17th Congress. He said he was aiming for at least 45 names on the declaration. So far, 30 lawmakers from the Visayas region, third of whom were from the LP have expressed support for Alvarez.
“We, the members of the Visayas bloc, extend our cooperation and support to the incoming Duterte administration in its pursuit [of]development and enactment of propeople and developmental policies and programs for our country,” said the declaration.
Congressman Albee Benitez is also considered as one of richest congressmen based on his official statement of assets, liabilities and networth.
Besides Benitez, the other lawmakers who signed the declaration are Jerry Treñas; Richard Garin; Arthur Defensor Jr.; Ben Evardone; Lucy Torres-Gomez; Rene Relampagos; Cesar V. Sarmiento; Paolo Javier and Gerald Gullas.
AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin, a sister-in-law of outgoing Health Secretary Janette Garin, also signed the declaration.
The other representatives who signed the declaration were Lucille Nava of Guimaras; Henry Ong of Leyte; Raul Tupas of Iloilo; Melecio Yap and Manuel Sagarbarris of Negros Occidental; Greg Gasataya of Bacolod City, and Arnie Teves of Negros Oriental.