To stem the exodus of members to other parties, the ruling PDP-Laban has named Senator Manny Pacquiao and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as party leaders in their respective chambers of Congress.
Some 14 PDP-Laban members recently bolted the party to join the National Unity Party leaving the ruling party with only 70 members in the 306-seat House of Representatives. Congressional insiders said 20 more were poised to leave the party for the Nacionalista Party of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
In the Senate, the PDP-Laban counts former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Pacquiao and newly elected Senators Christopher Go, Ronald dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino in its ranks—giving it five of 24 seats.
The recent defections sparked a loyalty check by the PDP-Laban and prompted party president Pimentel and vice chairman, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, and other party leaders to tap Pacquaio and Velasco to stop the bleeding.
Pimentel said he is confident that Pacquio and Velasco, who is supposed to become speaker in about 15 months under a term-sharing agreement with Cayetano, can do the job, saying they are loyal not just to the party but to the Filipino people.
The PDP president also expressed his appreciation to all its members who stayed loyal to the party, which is headed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Pacquiao said he plans to gather PDP-Laban members at least once a month to strengthen their party and address and resolve any issues.
“We need to have this at least once a month for the direction of the party,” Pacquiao said.
Velasco thanked all party members for their confidence and support during his bid for the speakership and vowed to do his best to lead other members of the PDP-Laban in the House.
NUP, led by party chairman and former Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, has more than doubled its House membership to 57 seats from just 25 after the last midterm elections.
Fifteen of the NUP’s newest members took their oath during the party’s annual meeting in Quezon City first week of August. They included House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante and 12 lawmakers from PDP-Laban.
NUP has also allied with 12 party-list lawmakers, some of whom are part of the 54-member party-list coalition.
Other PDP Laban leaders who were present at the PDP-Laban party meeting were Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel, Deputy Speaker Dong Gonzales, party secretary-general Melvin Matibag, and spokesman Ronwald Munsayac.
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