MANILA – Outgoing Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., on Tuesday said the remaining member of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives is much interested to support the coalition of change in the 17th Congress rather than be part of the minority.
Belmonte, the vice chairman of LP said in a text message that he was no longer interested to run for speakership against the personal choice of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
He said LP decided to support the incoming speaker, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.
With this decision among his peers, Belmonte flew to Davao City this morning to iron out joining the Coalition of Change spearheaded by PDP-Laban. The speaker said he was able to seek an audience with Duterte and Alvarez.
“I will meet with President Duterte together with Rep. Alvarez, the President’s chosen candidate for Speaker,” he said in a text message as he described his visit as “primarily a courtesy call” to the 16th president of the land. He said he will be discussing the possibility of coalescing with PDP-Laban.
“I confirm that LP and PDP-Laban are in coalition talks,” he said.
Belmonte earlier expressed preference for a coalition to be formed between LP and PDP-Laban, similar to the arrangement it has with other parties such as the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Lakas-CMD, and National Unity Party.
At least 70 of the 115 LP stalwarts in the House have expressed their intent to join the majority bloc and support Alvarez’s speakership bid.
The Davao del Norte lawmaker, for his part, said the LP was welcome to join the so-called “Coalition for Change” led by PDP-Laban as long as it supported the Duterte administration’s policies and programs.
Alvarez aims to garner the support of over 200 lawmakers in the 292-member chamber.