Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo’s election as speaker of the House of Representatives on Monday, July 23, not only surprised the entire nation, but also posed as a grave threat to the existence of the ruling party Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
In a Manila Times report, an unknown source revealed that members plan on bolting the party to transfer to Hugpong ng Pagbabago HNP (Alliance for Change), a party led by presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
PDP-Laban is a national party chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte with Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as the secretary general. It grew in numbers and has a total of 142 members.
HNP, however, is a regional political party launched in February by Duterte-Carpio and incumbent governors of Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental and Compostela Valley – all from Southern Mindanao.
“PDP-Laban will be soon gone. You see, at least 50 percent of the PDP-Laban members in the House chose Arroyo to be Speaker. What does it say about strength or lack of it by PDP-Laban – a party wherein Alvarez serves as the secretary general?,” the source told the Manila Times.
The source also named Representatives Albee Benitez of Negros Occidental and Karlo Nograles of Davao City as the prime members behind the move. Both elected Arroyo before Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In line with this, Camarines Sur 1st District Representative and Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya said that a “handful” of members are eyeing to transfer to other political parties, although he did not say which party.
In a report from Rappler, he said the “tipping point” was Arroyo’s takeover of the speakership. But there has been a growing discontent among district representatives allied with the president’s party for a long time.
Sara Duterte and Pantaleon Alvarez’ rift started when Sara claimed Alvarez bragged he could unseat the president. She was also said to be responsible in garnering votes to oust the former speaker.
Despite the claims from the unknown source, Benitez assured that PDP-Laban would still exist for the time being. The lawmaker promised that they will “maintain and further strengthen the majority coalition.”
“The Duterte administration’s legislative agenda, particularly the early passage of the proposed national budget, will be our priority. Eighty of the 119 PDP-Laban lawmakers were present at the caucus [with Speaker Arroyo]. Those who were not able to make it also pledged support to the new House leadership.” Benitez added.