By Ellson Quismorio
The Liberal Party (LP) is still weighing its options regarding who to support in the increasingly stirring House Speakership race.
This was learned by Manila Bulletin Wednesday despite the eye-catching presence of staunch LP stalwarts Caloocan City 2nd district Rep. Edgar Erice and Quezon City 6th district Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte at the meeting held by Speakership contender, Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez at Seda Hotel in Quezon City.
“We’re still exploring,” Erice said in an interview after the meeting. “Kailangan acceptable yung mga advocacies namin [sa candidates for Speaker] (Our advocacies must be acceptable to the candidates for Speaker).”
“We [previously] had a caucus and the majority of us decided that our preference is to join the Majority provided that we are allowed to express our views, to vote for our advocacies…gaya nung (like the) President’s agenda on death penalty, lowering of minimum age of criminal liability, Charter Change, federalism…yan yung mga major issues (those are the major issues),” he explained.
Erice echoed this position during the Romualdez-led meeting, where LP and several other representatives of political parties in the upcoming 18th Congress–as well as local leaders from the provinces–gathered under a palpable sense of camaraderie.
In short, everyone in the room were friends.
Belmonte, secretary-general of LP, left during a lunch break while Erice joined Romualdez’s table for the meal upon the insistence of the Visayan.
Observers claimed that the battle for Speakership–which will be decided on July 22–is now down between Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) President Romualdez and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan’s (PDP-Laban) Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Alan Velasco, who is said to be very close to the presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Erice confirmed that the 18-member LP bloc has already met with the Velasco camp and raised the same set of conditions. “They both said they will respect our position.”
So who between Romualdez and Velasco would the former ruling party back as far as the Speakership is concerned? “We will have to vote (as a party),” Erice said.
The Caloocan lawmaker acknowledged that although they’re small in number, their membership will have a big impact in the event of a close race.
“We’re just 18-strong, but we’re still the LP. We’re doing this for the membership,” Erice said.
Chaired by incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo, the LP has been around for 73 years.