'Super majority' in House backs Duterte agenda

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2016 05:00 PM | Updated as of Jun 07 2016 11:35 PM

'Super majority' in House backs Duterte agenda 1
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte answers questions during a press conference in Davao City. ABS-CBN News
DAVAO CITY - President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has secured a "super majority" in the House of Representatives, putting him in strong position to push for his agenda, his allies said Tuesday.

More than 200 lawmakers have signified support for the firebrand mayor, including members of outgoing President Benigno Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP). Outgoing Speaker Feliciano Belmonte of the LP said the speakership is "in the bag" for Duterte's choice, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

Duterte, who will start his six-year term on June 30, will push for a shift to the federal form of government, the restoration of death penalty, and lowering the age threshold for juvenile offenders.

"With the support of Speaker Belmonte, we will have a super majority," Alvarez told reporters ahead of a meeting between House leaders and Duterte.

The coalition includes detained ex-president Gloria Arroyo's Lakas and National Unity Party (NPC), tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco's Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), and tycoon Manuel Villar's Nacionalista Party, Alvarez said.

Talks are ongoing with the left-wing Makabayan bloc and several other party-list lawmakers, he said.

Outgoing Vice President Jejomar Binay's United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) will be offered the minority in the House, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez told reporters.

"We can either join them but we offered UNA as the minority on a position of constructive and cooperative minority which is needed by the country right now," he said.


Belmonte dispelled fears a Congress dominated by Duterte would be reduced to a mere rubber stamp.

"Being in the majority doesn't mean you're a 'yes' man. You have common sense," he said.

He said he was sticking with the LP for the time being, but he was not discounting a return to Duterte's PDP-Laban, of which he was a member during the 1980s.

He also dismissed criticism that switching party allegiances made them political turncoats.

"We should be helping see that his (Duterte's) mandate becomes a reality," he said.

Belmonte said Aquino was aware of the negotiations between the LP and PDP-Laban, which has been going on for "a few weeks."