NPC joins Duterte coalition

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Politicians quickly got in the spirit of presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte's campaign slogan of "change is coming" as more promptly changed their political alliances for the incoming administration.

More allies of the outgoing administration jumped ship to the camp of Duterte's PDP-Laban party, boosting its bid to secure the Speakership of the Lower House in the 17th Congress for Duterte's preferred candidate, incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

Today, the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) signed an agreement of support with the PDP-Laban.

Signing for NPC were chairman emeritus Faustino Dy Jr., president Giorgidi Aggabao and secretary-general Mark Mendoza. Signing for PDP-Laban were party president and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, Alvarez, the party secretary-general, and Alfonso Cusi, vice- chairman of PDP Laban.

NPC backed the presidential campaign of Senator Grace Poe.

The agreement expresses support for both Duterte and Alvarez.

"This agreement binds NPC not only to support Duterte and Alvarez but it binds as well the entire apparatus to support their programs," Aggabao said.

Pimentel urged lawmakers to give Duterte's push for federalism a chance.

Duterte's legislative agenda will center on federalism, war on crime, tax reform, expansion of the middle class, the daily concerns of the common man and inclusive growth.

For his part, Alvarez thanked the incoming administration's new partners in pursuing the program of government of Duterte.

"Sana po ay samahan niyo kami para maisulong natin yung tunay na pagbabago," he said.

MINORITY LEADER, HOUSE POSTS

Alvarez said he met with 16th Congress House Speaker Sonny Belmonte Thursday at the latter's house in Quezon City.

"Maganda naman. Maganda yung usapan namin dahil sabi ni Speaker Belmonte, siya ay gustong sumuporta din sa administrasyon ni Presidente Rody Duterte lalong lalo na sa usapang pagbabago ng ating bansa," he said.

Alvarez said Belmonte will vie for the Speakership to get the minority leadership. Under House rules, the runner-up in the Speakership race automatically becomes leader of the minority.

"Hindi. Lalaban pa rin siya dun sa Speakership. Sa nakikita namin dun, siya siguro sa minority group."

Describing Belmonte as a friend, Alvarez said: "Meron kaming common friend na namamagitan pero talagang magkaibigan na kami ni ano Manong Sonny. Siya rin yung head namin sa minority nung araw nung panahon ni Erap."

Alvarez also confirmed that Congressmen Ronaldo Zamora and Rodolfo FariƱas are among those being considered for the next most senior position in the house, the Majority leadership. He said Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, a former budget secretary, is also being considered for the appropriations panel, a post he also had before.

Alvarez also confirmed many in the LP will join PDP-Laban.

"Merong mga gustong lumipat sa PDP-Laban at hindi ko pa mapangalanan. Marami eh," he said.

He said members of the LP were allowed leeway to choose their alliances under the coming administration.

"Binigyang laya yung ibang miyembro na sumama sa majority. I think we will know the count next week."

Alvarez also said he has talked to the bloc of Rep. Albee Benitez who likewise expressed support.

MAKABAYAN BLOC

He also expects to get the backing of the National Unity Party (NUP) and the Makabayan bloc.

Belmonte has yet to respond to requests for comment.

Makabayan coalition president Satur Ocampo said his group met with Alvarez to explore probable areas of cooperation on President-elect Duterte's legislative agenda.

"He's still in the process of cobbling a majority coalition in the House, which may include the Makabayan bloc. No definite terms have been agreed on yet, as the situation remains in flux," he said in a statement.

Based on data analyzed by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, nearly half (116 out of 238) or 49% of incoming district representatives are LP members.

Most of them coming from the National Capital Region (15) and CALABARZON (14). Only three out of 238 prospective district representatives are from PDP Laban. They are Erik Martinez of the 3rd District of Valenzuela, Jun Papandayan of the 2nd District of Lanao del Sur, and Pantaleon Alvarez of the 1st District of Davao del Norte.

The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) will comprise 18% of district representatives in the 17th Congress with 42 members.

Nacionalista Party (NP) and National Unity Party (NUP) will each comprise 10% of the total number of district representatives, with 23 members each.

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) got 11 seats or 5%. There are only four elected district representatives who ran as independent candidates--Wes Gatchalian (1st District, Valenzuela), Albee Benitez (3rd District, Negros Occidental), Ramon Vicente Rocamora (Lone District, Siquijor), and Maxie Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro).

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