Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo called on her Liberal party-mates to rebuild the erstwhile ruling party and expand its dwindling membership, as she formally assumed the post of party chairman in rites devoid of pomp and circumstance.
Robredo convened the Liberal Party (LP) National Executive Committee at the hotel of the University of the Philippines on Thursday, the first party gathering after it lost the May 2016 presidential election.
While Robredo, a former Camarines Sur congresswoman and widow of the late Interior secretary Jesse Robredo, won the vice presidency, standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd lost the presidential race to Rodrigo Duterte.
Roxas’ defeat prompted an exodus to Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban, decimating the once powerful Liberals.
“We have been on hiatus for a year. But now, it’s time to work. It’s time to rebuild the party. The core principle of the party is to represent the people. Ordinary Filipinos are the true voice of democracy, and LP should uphold this tenet moving forward,” said Robredo, the highest elected official of the party.
“If we think of what is our situation today, maybe it is not encouraging. But if we go back to LP’s history, we were made for these times, for times such as this,” she added.
Duterte’s supporters had accused the Liberals of spearheading efforts to destabilize the government. The party has denied this repeatedly.
In a separate statement, Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao disclosed that the party was looking forward to expanding its roster by including non-politicians.
“The LP wants to recruit non-politicians to help promote principles of liberalism, democracy and human rights and truly make it a party for the people,” Baguilat said.
“Professionals, millennials, women, indigenous peoples, businessmen, among others, are welcome to join,” he added.
Forty-nine party members ratified a resolution naming Robredo as chairman, former president Benigno Aquino 3rd as chairman emeritus and Sen. Francis Pangilinan as party president.
Also present during the gathering were Roxas, Senators Franklin Drilon and Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, former Budget secretary Florencio Abad, former Transportation secretary Joseph Abaya, former senator Wigberto Tañada, as well as Representatives Feliciano Belmonte and Jorge Banal of Quezon City, Josephine Sato of Occidental Mindoro, Edcel Lagman of Albay, and Raul Daza of Northern Samar.