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More new members boost Lakas strength

THE strength of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) in the House of Representatives has grown to 42, of which 21 are district congressmen and 21 party-list allies, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez announced on Sunday.

Romualdez, Lakas-CMD President, said the latest addition was Quezon City Rep. Anthony Peter “Onyx” D. Crisologo who took his oath as party member Friday night at the Majority Leader’s office before the House of Representatives adjourned its special session. Crisologo was sworn in by Romualdez.

He also announced that Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose M. Dalipe took his oath as Lakas-CMD member last September 15.

Dalipe did another ceremonial oath-taking before Romualdez also at the Majority Leader’s office last Thursday.

Before transferring to the Lakas-CMD, Dalipe was a former member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and Crisologo came from the National Unity Party (NUP).

As part of the administration’s coalition party, Romualdez reiterated Lakas-CMD’s commitment to support the passage of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s legislative agenda.

“Welcome to the ever growing Lakas-CMD party. This is in line with our commitment to strengthen Lakas-CMD’s political influence nationwide and help President Duterte pass the remaining legislative agenda of his administration and ensure that genuine reforms are implemented in the last 20 months of his administration,” Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Rules, said.

“Lakas-CMD is gaining momentum in its goal to strengthen its ranks in the House of Representatives,” said Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and President of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), adding the party is also focused on fortifying its united voice to help the Chief Executive defeat the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Four other new party-list lawmakers complete the roster of 21 Lakas-CMD allies or friends, according to Romualdez. They are Reps. Rodolfo M. Ordanes (Senior Citizens), Ducielle Marie S. Cardema (Duterte Youth), Angelina Natasha Co (BHW), and Claudine Diana D. Bautista (DUMPER PTDA).

They signed the “Declaration of Alliance for Unity and Progress” with the party to further solidify their support to the legislative agenda of President Duterte and the House leadership, Romualdez said.

Recently, Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus “XJ” Romualdo and Dinagat Islands Rep. Alan Ecleo joined the Lakas-CMD. They were both former members of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Quezon City Councilor Winnie Castelo, who served three terms as Quezon City congressman and husband of Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo, also joined Lakas-CMD on October 6.

Lakas-CMD Vice President for Luzon and Deputy Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo of Pampanga, House Deputy Majority Leader Wilter “Sharky” Wee Palma II of Zamboanga Sibugay and other Lakas-stalwarts witnessed the oath-taking of new party members.

Lakas-CMD, under the leadership of Romualdez, has been steadily consolidating its forces in the House of Representatives since the previous 17th Congress.

Last June, Romualdez administered the oath as Lakas-CMD members to Bayog Mayor Celso A. Matias, San Miguel Mayor Angelito L. Martinez II and Guipos Mayor Vicente P. Cajeta, all from Zamboanga Sibugay.

Lakas-CMD produced two Presidents of the country, namely Fidel V. Ramos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was Speaker last Congress.

Southern Leyte Rep. Roger “Oging” Mercado, Biliran Rep. Gerardo “Gerryboy” Espina Jr., and Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman took their oath as Lakas-CMD members last December, February, and March, respectively.

Other officials and members of the Lakas-CMD in the House of Representatives are Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr., Lanao del Sur Rep. Yasser Balindong, Deputy Majority Leader and Pangasinan Rep. Christopher “Toff” de Venecia, Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez, Lapu-Lapu City Rep. Paz Radaza, Negros Occidental Rep. Marilou Arroyo, Misamis Oriental Rep. Christian Unabia, former House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles, and Catanduanes Rep. Hector Sanchez.

The 17 party-list lawmakers to complete the 21 Lakas-CMD allies include Tingog Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez, Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, Ako Bisaya Rep. Sonny “SL” Lagon, Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin, Alona Rep. Ana Marie Villaraza-Suarez, Ako Bicol Rep. Elizalde Co, Ako Padayon Pilipino Rep. Adriano Ebcas, CWS Rep. Romeo Momo, Sr., GP Rep. Jose Gay Padiernos, Philreca Rep. Presyley de Jesus, Recoboda Rep. Godofredo Guya, TGP Rep. Jose Teves, TUCP Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza, Magsasaka Rep. Argel Cabatbat, Deputy Speaker and Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Ang Probinsyano Alfred Delos Santos, and APEC Rep. Sergio Dagooc.

The party is currently chaired by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.