SENATOR Francis Pangilinan has been designated acting president of the Liberal Party (LP), replacing former secretary of transportation Joseph Emilio Abaya.
Pangilinan will hold the position until members of the party pick their new officers in an election next year.
“I delegate unto the OIC (officer in charge) President such powers necessary and incidental to safeguarding the successful election of a new set of party officers in a National Directorate meeting, to be held on or before the 31st of March 2017,” Abaya said in a letter.
The letter was also signed by LP president on leave and defeated presidential candidate Manuel Roxas 2nd. Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, acting secretary general of the erstwhile ruling party, served as witness.
Pangilinan, in a statement, raised the need for the LP to work within the current political situation and redefine itself as a party.
Abaya was replaced as acting LP president because traditionally, the party is led by members holding elective office.
“The previous party leadership felt it best that a new set of party leaders take over,” Pangilinan said.
The acting LP president blamed the weak ideological political party system in the Philippines as the reason a number of LP members have moved to the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
“It is during these challenging times that we can really know those who have strong understanding not only on principles but also on the role of the party that is not in power,” Pangilinan said.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo earlier turned down a leadership role in the decimated LP as she pledged support to President Rodrigo Duterte of the ruling PDP-Laban.
Robredo told reporters in July that she had been with the Liberals for only three years and did not have enough experience to lead the party.
The LP membership in the House of Representatives has been cut by more than half after the defeat of standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd in the presidential elections.
Majority of the Liberals switched to Duterte’s PDP-Laban, while a number of those remaining in the erstwhile ruling party became aligned with the House majority coalition led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
For instance, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte transferred to PDP-Laban when Duterte emerged as the overwhelming winner of the 2016 presidential race with at least 16 million votes.