4 solons abandon Duterte’s political party

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    FOUR congressmen have ditched the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and crossed fences to join the National Unity Party (NUP), which is now the second largest party at the House of Representatives.

    Deputy Speakers Neptali Gonzales II of Mandaluyong City and Dan Fernandez of Laguna, and Reps. Sandra Eriguel and Rolando Uy of Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday took their oath as new members of the NUP at the Batasang Pambansa’s Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO).

    “It would be easier to pass legislation if we have the numbers to support it,” party president Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said after administering the oath to the new members.

    The NUP, the political party of businessman Enrique Razon, now has 49 district members at the House and 13 allied party-list groups. In contrast, the PDP-Laban has 66 members, the Nacionalista Party with 41 and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) with 34.

    Presidential son Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte became an honorary member of the NUP after the party adopted him last year.

    “We’d like to be home to a political party that we can consider to be our final home,” said Gonzales, a veteran politician who is a former majority leader.

    Eriguel, who described the NUP as the “party to be reckoned with, the party of the future,” said she joined because the party is “strong and very supportive” of its members.”

    Fernandez said he felt at home with the NUP because of his closeness with its members, especially Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno of Antipolo.

    He said he joined the NUP “to help pursue the President’s legislative agenda in the House and because of his close personal ties to its members.”

    Barzaga refused to say if the entry of new members had something to do with the term-sharing agreement between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco of the PDP-Laban who expects to take over the House leadership by end of October.

    The NUP president said it will be premature to discuss politics when the country is facing problems such as the threat of the 2019 novel coronavirus and the resettlement of victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.

    The NUP was the first party that declared its support for the speakership bid of Cayetano who had said he was open to staying in the post if the President wants him to.