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Non-politicians take oath as new LP members

MANILA, Philippines — The Liberal Party (LP), faced with frequent attacks from President Duterte and his supporters, is trying to strengthen itself by recruiting new members who are not politicians.        

Over 100 non-politician recruits from academe, youth, professionals, non-government groups and other sectors took their oath of office on Tuesday night before Vice President Leni Robredo, who is LP chairperson.

Robredo welcomed the new members and thanked them for “going against the tide.”

“We know that often, people go with the tide, but you decided to go against it,” she said.

“I know that you know fully well what you are doing. We salute you because you are not afraid to be called yellow, because you know that these are the times that almost no one wants to join the party because we are always attacked and made to look bad in the eyes of the public. But you believe and trust that this is the party with firm principles,” she said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, LP President, said the oath taking of non-politician members marked the transformation of the opposition party into a people’s party.

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He said when he took on the role of party president, he realized that the ruling political entity during the Aquino administration has “to go to the grassroots, engage with the marginalized sectors, and become a genuine people’s party.”

“We are clear on why this is important: we know that real change and solutions to the country’s deepest problems are not in the hands of one person or one group or one political elite, but in all our hands, in our collective strength, in our collective action together with political leaders with a real love of country and with people who are risking, taking a stand, and acting for real change,” he said.

Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., a party vice president, said the new recruits “reminded us what makes a liberal.”

“We asked them, what makes you liberal? Most of their responses – not afraid to fight for truth, responsibility to help others,” he said.

Former Quezon representative Erin Tañada said, “Now that traditional politicians have left the LP, it’s time to reorganize the party and regain its strength from the basic sectors.”

Following Duterte’s el-ection in May 2016, the former ruling party lost a lot of members to the new ruling political entity PDP-Laban.

In the Senate, LP senators comprise the opposition, though some party members are with the majority coalition led by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

This is also the situation in the House of Representatives. From more than 100 LPs who won in 2016, they are now down to about 30, most of whom are with the supermajority of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

The remaining 30 are led by Representatives Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City and Romero Quimbo of Marikina.

The opposition in the House is composed of five LP members and two party-list allies. Its leaders are Baguilat and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

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