The once powerful Liberal Party (LP) on Sunday disowned officials of Agusan del Sur who took oaths as new members of the now ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
“(They) are not Partido Liberal members,” said the LP in a statement.
The Inquirer reported on Saturday that more than 3,000 LP members from Agusan del Sur had abandoned the party and had jumped ship to PDP-Laban.
But LP said the officials were actually members of the National Unity Party, which used to be part of the coalition formed to support the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.
LP said it was now “rebuilding itself to become a genuine people’s party.”
Good words for Duterte
In Agusan del Sur, most of the officials who jumped ship were known to have junked the candidacy of now President Rodrigo Duterte in favor of Mar Roxas, LP standard bearer in the 2016 elections.
When they took oaths as new PDP-Laban members, however, the officials had nothing but good words and praises for Mr. Duterte.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez led oath-taking ceremonies for the provincial officials — from governor down to village leaders — in ceremonies at the Naligayan Cultural Center.
Gov. Adolph Edward Plaza said the officials decided to join Mr. Duterte’s party because it would be for the good of the province.
In previous interviews, Plaza said he and other Agusan del Sur politicians were actually rooting for Mr. Duterte during the 2016 campaign but were unsure if he was running, which prompted them to commit their support to Roxas.
Roxas won in Agusan del Sur
Among those who joined the PDP-Laban bandwagon were the governor’s sisters—Rep. Evelyn Plaza-Mellana and Rep. Maria Valentina Plaza.
Alvarez said the officials were lucky to be sworn in on Feb. 8, the 36th founding anniversary of the once moribund PDP-Laban.
Mr. Duterte lost by 34,744 votes to Roxas in Agusan del Sur.
During a membership seminar held before the officials took their oaths, they were told that supporting federalism was one of the conditions for membership into the now ruling party.
Alvarez called on the new party members to rally behind Charter change to pave the way for federalism before national and local elections in 2019.
He also called on the officials to campaign against any senatorial candidate in the 2019 elections who would not support federalism. —With a report from Chris Panganiban
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