Posted 3 weeks ago
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Liberal Party will field senatorial candidates in the 2019 midterm elections.
“Well, we will field candidates for senators and up to local level and we will present a slate to the people for them to judge us and in effect, renew the mandate of the Liberal Party,” Drilon, an LP stalwart, said in a Rappler Talk interview on Friday, September 1.
Asked for names, Drilon said they have yet to decide who would be included in the lineup. So far, only one name is sure: reelectionist Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, LP vice president for internal affairs, said another possible candidate is former Quezon Representative Erin Tañada, but nothing is final yet.
“Too early to say, it’s too early to say, one day is too long in politics,” Drilon told Rappler.
Once the ruling party, the LP has now lost most of its members to President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban, which has started organizing its 2019 campaign and mass oath taking of politicians nationwide.
It remains to be seen if the LP could complete a 12-member slate.
“Lean team ang balak (is the plan). Maybe 4-5. We will see who has chances pa. But it depends on us building a network of committed party members from various sectors and backgrounds who will now serve as backbone of our activities,” Baguilat told Rappler.
The reality is not lost on LP, as Baguilat said they had to “adapt” to the new normal – from being the largest and most powerful to being the minority.
While some LP members are part of the supermajority in the House, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly criticized the party, accusing it of masterminding plots to oust him. Detained Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte’s fiercest critic, is part of the LP.
“The party has had to adapt to the new normal, from being the most powerful political party to being the most prominent political counterforce and fiscalizer of the administration,” Baguilat told Rappler in a text message.
This, Baguilat said, “forced the LP to rethink [its] recruitment process.” With many jumping ship to PDP-Laban, the LP is now open to non-politicians.
“Obviously, the mass exodus of members to other parties has forced us to rethink our recruitment process,” Baguilat said.
“We’re now rebuilding from the grassroots, looking for younger, more loyal and dedicated party members who will promote liberal democratic ideals beyond elections. Non-politicians included,” he added.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, earlier told Rappler that they are eyeing a full slate for 2019. (READ: Pimentel says he may ‘rethink’ Senate presidency to focus on 2019 polls)
Aside from him, Pimentel said the ruling party is eyeing Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chair Martin Diño and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chief Francis Tolentino as candidates.
Tolentino ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 senatorial race, after he was excluded from the LP ticket following the controversial lewd performance at a lawmaker’s birthday party in October 2015. He is now a staunch ally of Duterte