May last year, the Liberal Party of the Philippines crossed a turning point: From being the ruling party, the LP had to recover its purpose as a party in the margins.
And as the nation struggled toward the promise of change, LP was also severely tested. Dissent was stifled with a barrage of propaganda and fake news, thereby painting the party as a yellow demon solely responsible for society’s ills. It was during these tumultuous times when Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan took on the leadership of the political party that had a vibrant history of fighting dictators and forging democracies.
Senator Pangilinan’s urgent marching orders: Go back to the grassroots. Engage the sectors that have been behind LP’s many triumphs. The party revisited the provinces of Bohol and Cebu to not only consult its members, but to dialogue with farmers, students, and young bloggers. The process of rebuilding LP has begun.
But the task of redefining the party was made even harder by some challenges. In December 2016, Vice President Leni Robredo, the party’s chairperson, was forced to resign from the cabinet. In February 24, a day before the anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution, Senator Leila de Lima, President Duterte’s fiercest critic, was arrested on trumped-up charges. A few days after, LP members in the Senate were ousted from their committee posts.
Still, LP continued to push back, and stayed committed to its duty of rebuilding itself so that it may better serve the Filipino people. Just hours after standing by De Lima during her arrest ensuring her safety, LP led a forum with students at the University of the Philippines on the relevance of the EDSA People Power.
LP continues in its rebuilding, finding new allies from different sectors. The party strengthened its ranks by linking hands with brave Filipinos who stood against death penalty and extrajudicial killings, with millennials who defended history against the revisionism and the creeping authoritarianism.
Yes, LP is still the political party in the margins, but it is a party whose actions are heartened by the courageous hopes and principles of all Filipinos, especially the marginalized.