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10 LP solons defect to Duterte’s party

Ten members of the Liberal Party – including key faces – have made the switch to the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan chaired by incoming president Rodrigo R. Duterte a few weeks before the start of the 17th Congress.

The LP stalwarts were among the 13 congressmen who were sworn in by PDP-Laban Secretary-General and incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday afternoon at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

Among them were Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali, Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, and Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento.

Umali is the brother of LP treasurer Alfonso Umali Jr. A trusted lieutenant of President Aquino in the House of Representatives, Umali served as one of the prosecutors during the impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato C. Corona in 2012.

Treñas chaired LP’s membership and organizing panel while Sarmiento headed the House Committee on Transportation.

Also present during the event was incoming House Majority Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Fariñas who jumped from the LP to the PDP-Laban a few weeks back.

Also taking their oaths as PDP-Laban members yesterday were LP Reps. Lucy Torres-Gomez (Leyte), Jose Antonio Alvarado (Bulacan), Maria Lucille Nava (Guimaras), Deogracias Ramos Jr. (Sorsogon), Jesus Sacdalan (North Cotabato), Glona Labadlabad (Zamboanga del Norte), and Zajid Mangudadatu (Maguindanao).

The solons’ abandonment of the ruling party overshadowed the signing of a coalition partnership between PDP-Laban and the National Unity Party at the same venue yesterday.

Signing the coalition for change between the two parties were Alvarez; PDP vice chairman, incoming Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi; NUP chairman, Antipolo City Rep. Roberto Puno; NUP president Bataan Rep. Albert Garcia, and NUP vice president Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong.

“Right now we have 32 congressional seats and nine to 10 governors and several mayors and other positions,” Garcia said. “This is a support, a coalition to support the legislative agenda of the incoming administration,” he added.

After the signing, Puno read a resolution made by NUP installing Alvarez – Duterte’s choice as House speaker – as the party’s chairman emeritus. Alvarez gladly accepted the post. (ELLSON A. QUISMORIO)