Quo vadis, LP? Goal is clear, but next leaders yet to rise
The Liberal Party (LP) will strive to remain an “opposition force” despite its dwindling membership and its two leaders, Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, stepping down as chair and president, respectively, by June 30.
Pangilinan said he and Robredo would relinquish their roles to new leaders that would be selected on the basis of their current government positions. The once-dominant party has struggled to overcome an administration-led vilification campaign against so-called yellow forces.
“The party tradition is that the positions of party chairperson and president are reserved for the highest-ranking officials elected in the last national elections,” the outgoing senator told the Inquirer.
“The party leadership, in consultations with its members and with its chapters nationwide, will be undertaking the selection process in due time,” he said.
Robredo, who ran for president as an independent but kept her chairmanship of the LP, and her running mate Pangilinan lost to Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his running mate Sara Duterte in the May 9 elections. The latter two were proclaimed winners of the polls on May 25.
There will be no LP member in the incoming Senate, as Minority Leader Franklin Drilon will be retiring and the detained Sen. Leila de Lima was not reelected.
The lone opposition candidate to make it to the 24-member chamber, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, is a member of the Akbayan Party.
Likely from the House
With no Liberal in the Senate, the party will likely choose its next leaders from the remaining LP members in the incoming roster of lawmakers at the House of Representatives.
Pangilinan declined to name those being considered for the party’s top posts, saying he did not want to jump the gun on the selection process.
One potential candidate, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a veteran House member who has been critical of the Duterte administration, said discussions on the LP leadership had not even started.“I do not want to preempt the LP’s decision. Let us wait for developments to unfold,” Lagman told the Inquirer.
He said the LP would “remain a major responsible opposition force” under the incoming administration.
“We trust the new administration and the incoming leadership of the House will desist from choosing the minority leader and respect the small minority’s choice of its own independent opposition leader,” Lagman said.
According to Pangilinan, the LP will have nine members in the incoming House, fewer than their 15 outgoing party mates. He said some 400 local officials belonging to the party, from governors and mayors to councilors, won in the May elections. The LP was founded on Jan. 19, 1946, by then Senate President Manuel Roxas from the “Liberal Wing” of the old Nacionalista Party.
In August 2017, Robredo officially took the helm of the party as chair, along with Pangilinan as president, and former President Benigno Aquino III as chair emeritus. Aquino died in June 2021
Also in 2017, the LP opened its membership to individuals from the grassroots and other sectors. It has 163 chapters and organizing committees with around 16,000 members nationwide. The party held an online general assembly last September, with over 220 delegates in attendance. The LP has produced four presidents—Roxas, Elpidio Quirino, Diosdado Macapagal and Aquino. —With a report from Inquirer Research
Source: Liberal Party website and Inquirer Archives