THE Liberal Party (LP), led by its highest-ranking member, Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo, has no choice but to be the leading opposition voice, an LP stalwart said on Sunday.
Rep. Edgar Erice of Caloocan City made the statement following Robredo’s resignation as housing czar, which was prompted by a Palace decision to ban her from attending Cabinet meetings.
“Our opposition to the extrajudicial killings, the hero’s burial for [former president Ferdinand Marcos], these are expected. But [Robredo] was marginalized by that move. It was not our doing. It was the administration’s doing. As such, I would say that it is time for LP to provide check and balance,” Erice told the ABS-CBN News Channel.
“In order for the party to remain relevant, it must accept the challenge by providing critical thinking,” Erice added.
Robredo on Saturday said she was planning to sit down with LP leaders former president Benigno Aquino 3rd and defeated LP presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.
From being the ruling party last Congress, LP has been reduced to 34 lawmakers in the House of Representatives after Roxas lost the election.
Of the 34, 29 joined the “super majority” bloc composed of President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of PDP-Laban. Only five of them defied the party stand: Erice, Representatives Edcel Lagman of Albay, Raul Daza of Northern Samar, Emmanuel Billones of Capiz and Teodoro Baguilat of Ifugao.
In the Senate, four of the 24 senators are from LP and three of them are part of the majority.
“Our obligation is to provide check and balance. It is the duty of the vice president and our party president to rally us in having one voice. That is the party system. We can disagree on minor issues, but we should agree on major ones. We need to be united,” Erice stressed.
Interim Liberal Party president Francis Pangilinan on Sunday said the party was still in the process of consultation with its members on what would be its direction.
But it is willing to support Vice President Robredo should she decide to lead the opposition, he said.
“It (discussions) may take more time so it is status quo in the meantime,” Pangilinan said when asked if the LP had taken the task of leading the opposition.
Pangilinan said the party would not prevent its members from being critical of the policies of the Duterte administration.
The positions of LP on the Marcos burial and extrajudicial killings had been taken negatively by the administration, to the point of accusing the party of plotting to oust President Duterte.
Pangilinan and other members of LP have dismissed the allegations and maintained that the party would always adhere to constitutional processes.
“We will express dissenting positions on issues that we feel are not good for the country but that does not mean that because we are critical of certain issues, we want to oust the government,” Pangilinan said in an earlier interview.