More LP lawmakers, local officials jump ship to admin party

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(L-R) Former LP representatives Vargas, Roman and Castelo

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines May 10) — A new batch of lawmakers jumped ship to the ruling PDP-Laban party Wednesday afternoon.

Ten congressmen — five of them from the Liberal Party (LP) — took oath before House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. The other two were from Nationalist People's Coalition, with two more from the Nacionalista Party, and one from Lakas.

They were:

Rep. Alfredo Vargas, 5th District Quezon City (LP)

Rep. Winnie Castelo, 2nd District Quezon City (LP)

Rep. Geraldine Roman, 1st District Bataan (LP)

Rep. Ansaruddin Adiong, 1st District Lanao Del Sur (LP)

Rep. Nancy Catamco, 2nd District North Cotabato (LP)

Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, Lone District Camiguin ( Lakas)

Rep. Scott Davies Lanete, 3rd District Masbate (NPC)

Rep. Divina Grace Yu, 1st District Zamboanga Del Sur (NPC)

Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, 1st District Isabela (NP)

Rep. Munir Arbison, 2nd Disrict Sulu (NP)

Alvarez said this showed more congressmen are supporting President Rodrigo Duterte.

The lower chamber is expected to take up the impeachment complaint against the Duterte next week.

House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas said more congressmen were expected to jump ship to PDP-Laban soon.

Fariñas said, so far, PDP-Laban had 121 members in the 292-seat House.

Roman and Castelo said they jumped ship because of their support for the President.

Roman admitted another reason was she needed to look after the welfare of her constituents.

For his part, Vargas said he left LP because his constituents were supportive of the Duterte administration.

LP stalwart Miro Quimbo said all former LP congressmen informed the former ruling party of their decision to leave — except Castelo.

Castelo's transfer came as a surprise because he did not inform his party that he would be leaving them already.

Related: More LP members, political parties vow alliance with Duterte

Quimbo said LP had no choice but to understand the decision of the congressmen. He said those who have asked permission stated their deep concern for their districts and the coming 2019 elections.

He said they were convinced that the best way to get re-elected would be by joining the majority party.

From the over 100 Liberals at House during the Aquino administration, the party had now been decimated to less than 30 members.

Meanwhile, LP Secretary General Kit Belmonte said the four lawmakers had been asking permission to leave the party for several weeks now.

Belmonte admitted it was difficult to be part of LP nowadays. He explained, when something bad happened, it was immediately blamed on the "yellow" party.

He added that, historically, some politicians do migrate to the dominant and ruling party over the course of a term.

Local officials, too

Aside from the lawmakers, two former LP local officials in Quezon City had also been sworn in as new PDP-Laban members.

Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte and City Councilor Jian Carlo Sotto took oath before Senate President Koko Pimentel .

Pimentel welcomed the move, also noting more were expected to join PDP-Laban.

Belmonte and Sotto said their beliefs conformed with that of the Duterte administration's and this was the reason for the party shift.

Belmonte's father, Rep. Sonny Belmonte, is a known and ranking LP stalwart. The vice mayor said she had informed her father about her decision but said she would not know if the former House Speaker would join in her new party.

Sotto is the son of Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto, who showed support for his son's move. The senator remains with the NPC.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas and Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.