Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, the party that propelled Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the highest position in the land, is slowly regaining its former strength as more members at the House of Representatives join it.
On Wednesday the Lakas-CMD president and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez administered the oath of membership to two legislators: Fidel Nograles of Rizal and Fredenil Castro of Capiz.
The party now has 11 members in the chamber, an indication that Lakas-CMD’s is slowly but surely regaining strength.
The ruling PDP-Laban party has demanded that Rep. Rida Robes of San Jose del Monte resign as chairman of the House Committee on People’s Participation for joining the National Unity Party and yet sits as chairman of the committee.
Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, a member of the panel representing the party in the on-going House reorganization, slammed Robes for bolting the PDP-Laban as soon as he was appointed chairman of that committee.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who is PDP-Laban president, said only 12 members of his party, not 30 as stated in earlier reports, had transferred to the NUP.
The oathtaking of Nograles and Castro was witnessed by Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay of Surigao del Sur and Reps. Juan Miguel Arroyo of Pampanga, Paz Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City, Christian Unabia of Misamis Oriental and Aleta Suarez of Quezon.
Castro, who served as House majority leader during the 17th Congress, rejoined the Lakas-CMD after he resigned as president and as a member of the National Unity Party.
Castro said he resigned from the NUP out of delicadeza because he openly supported the speakership bid of Romualdez.
“I used to be the Lakas-CMD party chairman in the whole province of Capiz and I was also appointed district chairman concurrently. It is a homecoming because I have returned to Lakas, my original party,” he said.
On the other hand, Nograles, who comes from a family of lawyers, joined the political party of Romualdez, leaving the ruling PDP-Laban.
The 32-year-old Nograles is a cousin of Cabinet Secretary and former Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles and PBA party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles.
Nograles of Rizal has authored several bills that uphold the rights and welfare of lawyers and citizens who are poor, such as providing free legal assistance by universities and colleges “to provide underprivileged Filipinos with the legal services they need but cannot afford.”
Earlier, Romualdez said the Lakas-CMD was open to others who wished to be part of the party’s resurgence.
Lakas was established after Ramos bolted Laban in the wake of the convention in Cavite where he lost to then-Speaker Ramon V. Mitra. The Ramos delegates to the convention were allegedly boxed out by the Caviteños who openly sided with Mitra.
Arroyo ran and won the vice presidency as the running mate of then Lakas standard-bearer Jose de Venecia. De Venecia lost to former President Joseph Estrada while Arroyo garnered more votes than Estrada.
Before agreeing to run under the Lakas banner, however, Arroyo had already organized the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino to be her vehicle in her planned candidacy for President. Now Senate President Vicente Sotto III was her KAMPI co-founder. With Macon Ramos-Araneta
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