(UPDATE) Lakas stalwart Belmonte to jump to LP

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2009 06:06 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2009 04:52 PM

MANILA - Quezon City Mayor Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. will lead several Metro Manila politicians who will defect to the Liberal Party from the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.

A message to ABS-CBN News on Wednesday from Belmonte's camp invited members of the media to "witness the oathtaking" Thursday of Belmonte, his daughter Joy, and Quezon City Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista as members of the LP.

Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, LP standard bearer, will reportedly also proclaim Bautista and the younger Belmonte as the party's official candidates for mayor and vice mayor in the city.

The oathtaking will be held at the Amoranto Multipurpose Theater in Quezon City, the message said.

Belmonte is the latest high-profile member of the ruling party to move to the LP. He is currently the senior vice president for external affairs for Lakas.

Belmonte was part of the cabinet of the late former president Corazon Aquino, and was head of several government-owned corporations, notably the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS), the Manila Hotel and the National Reinsurance Corporation of the Philippines.

Belmonte was a three-term representative of the 4th district of Quezon City from 1992 to 2001. He also became House Speaker. He then run successfully for QC mayor in 2001 and is currently on his third term.

The incumbent QC mayor is widely expected to run again for his old Congressional post.

Coincidentally, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD national convention will be held on the same date. The party will formalize their national slate during the said convention.

Caloocan's Echiverri, too

Also reported to be jumping ship from the adminitration party to LP is Caloocan City Mayor Enrico "Recom" Echiverri.

In Echiverri's birthday celebrations Wednesday, noticeably absent were members of Lakas-Kampi CMD, his current party.

Among those present however were former socioeconomic planning secretary Ralph Recto and Tony Legarda, Senator Loren Legarda's father.

When asked by the media if he will support Recto even if he is from a different party, Echiverri said "Sino may sabi sa inyong magkaiba kami ng partido? Baka nga magsama pa kami sa iisang partido," indirectly alluding a possible switch to the Liberal Party.

Echiverri won the mayoralty race in 2004 under the banner of oppositionist and late Fernando Poe Jr. After the elections he switched to Lakas CMD and ran successfully for a second term last 2007 elections.

"Clamor"

Recto, meanwhile, said that his move was his answer to the clamor of the people.

"'Yon po kasi ang sigaw ng taumbayan, na suportahan natin si Noynoy, at tinugon ko lang ang panawagan ng bayan," he told reporters.

Recto also said that his move to the LP, along with his wife, Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, is not connected to her refusal to be the vice-presidential bet of Lakas, as Gilbert Teodoro's running mate. With reports from Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News