New political alignment formed in Caraga; Matugas, Romarate defect to LP

A new political realignment in Caraga is shaping up as four out of six congressmen in the region’s four provinces joined President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) while others vowed to support the new administration.

Three Lakas-CMD-Kampi party solons in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte, including a Surigao del Sur Nationalista Party (NP) congressman, recently bolted from their respective political parties and took their oath as new members of the administration party.

As this developed, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo has moved to win back Lakas-Kampi-CMD partymates in the House of Representatives by hosting a “team-building” caucus in her home province with only a week left before the chamber elects a new Speaker for the 15th Congress.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco T. Matugas of the First District, who is also vice president of Kampi for Mindanao, and Rep. Guillermo Romarate Jr. (Second District, Surigao del Norte), Lakas district chairman, officially announced on Monday that they accepted the invitation to join the LP.

NP Surigao del Sur Rep. Florencio Garay of the Second District and Lakas Rep. Ma. Angelica Amante-Matba of the Second District of Agusan del Norte are also joining President Aquino’s party, Matugas said.

Amante-Matba’s brother, Lakas Agusan del Norte Gov. Elrpe Amante, could not be contacted if he would be joining the LP. Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr., cousin of Amante-Matba and Amante, belongs to P-Noy’s party.

Earlier, Lakas Agusan del Sur Gov. Adolf Edward Plaza called on all mayors and provincial board members to shift loyalty to President Aquino’s administration. Plaza still remains a Lakas Party member.

“Our brand of politics is for the development of Agusan del Sur, and President Aquino’s thrust for good governance is also one of our political platforms. There is really no reason we do not support the new leadership,” Plaza told the mayors in a conference at the provincial capitol last week.

All the newly elected and reelected mayors in Agusan del Sur’s 13 towns and a city belong to Lakas.

Plaza, who took his oath as new governor before President Aquino in Malacañang on June 30, also asked his two neophyte congresswomen sisters—Rep. Maria Valentina Plaza (First District) and Rep. Evelyn Plaza-Mellan (Second District)—to support the LP leadership in Congress.

Still loyal to Lakas are Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay of the First District and Butuan City Rep. Jose Aquino.

Matugas said they officially took their oath yesterday as new members of the LP before President Aquino at Malacañang.

“We are joining LP because we want to help the Aquino administration’s economic, development and reform agenda. After all, our action is for the good of our people in our respective districts,” Matugas said.

The Surigao del Norte solon added that joining P-Noy’s party would benefit the Surigaonons. Matugas, however, said his wife, Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas, is still independent.

Sources said some newly elected local officials in Surigao del Norte who joined the LP already took their oath on July 19. (Business Mirror)

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