HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez officiated Wednesday the oath-taking of 10 lawmakers who formally joined the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Five former Liberal Party (LP) lawmakers, namely, Bataan first district Representative Geraldine Roman, Quezon City fifth district Representative Alfred Vargas, Lanao del Sur first district Representative Ansaruddin Adiong, North Cotabato second district Representative Nancy Catamco, and Quezon City second district Representative Winston Castelo led the bandwagon.
The latest mass exodus brought the number of LP lawmakers down to 27.
Before the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, LP dominated the House of Representatives.
Other lawmakers who joined the supermajority are the following:
* Zamboanga del Sur first district Representative Divina Grace Yu and Masbate third district Representative Scott Lanete from the Nationalist People’s Coalition
* Sulu second district Representative Munir Arbison and Isabela first district Representative Rodolfo Albano III from Nacionalista Party
* Camiguin Representative Jesus Xavier Romualdo from Lakas
The House now lists 121 PDP-Laban affiliated lawmakers out of the total 293.
According to Alvarez, who is also the secretary general of PDP-Laban, the transfer of the 10 lawmakers was an indication that Duterte is now gaining more support from lawmakers.
"Wala naman itong kinalamn sa impeachment. Ang magandang mensahe sigiuro dito is maraming sumusuporta sa ating Presidente," Alvarez said.
Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo admitted that the transfer of the LP lawmakers was "disappointing."
"Of course, it's disappointing each time a party member leaves the party. It's painful especially as we now consider each other as family," said Quimbo, the highest-ranking LP member in the House.
Quimbo said he understands that the move might be a strategy of the lawmakers for another re-election bid.
"[We] have no choice but to understand their decision. Those that have asked permission have stated their deep concern for their districts and the coming 2019 elections. They've been convinced that the best way to get re-elected is by joining the majority party. These are political realities that face many leaders," he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan, LP president, believed that the lawmakers were lured by the perks of being a Palace ally.
"[T]he attraction and admittedly the benefits of being part of the good graces of Malacañang were hard to resist; thus, the exodus of party members to the fold of the new ruling party," Pangilinan said.
In their decision to leave the LP, Roman and Vargas said they needed to be part of PDP-Laban in order to push for their legislative agenda.
"I joined PDP-Laban because I want to show my support to the President...I want to help the President and this administration to succeed because the success of the President and this administration is the success of the entire nation,” Roman said.
"I also [have to] look after the welfare of my district," she added.
Vargas said he just echoed the sentiments of his district, which he claimed "overwhelmingly" supports Duterte.
“It is clear that the people are supportive of the Duterte administration. As a representative, I have to heed to the wisdom of our people,” Vargas said.
Majority floor leader Rodolfo Fariñas said during the press conference that there might be more LP lawmakers who might jump ship to PDP-Laban. (SunStar Philippines)