Drilon joins Liberal Party
- Jess Diaz () - November 29, 2003 - 12:00am
Senate President Franklin Drilon has joined the Liberal Party but denied yesterday that he is seeking the vice presidency in next year’s elections under the banner of his new party.

In remarks shortly after taking his oath as LP chairman, Drilon said "with the declaration of a movie actor (obviously referring to Fernando Poe Jr.) that he will run for the presidency," voters in the May 2004 presidential polls will choose between popularity and competence and experience.

"In our country, unfortunately, the game of politics has become a roulette of personalities instead of a battle of ideas. Regrettably, the quest for leadership is once again equated with sheer popularity," he said.

He said the choice next year will be "between candidates who will stand on the platform of competence and experience in various fields of governance, as against one who is foisted on the people on the basis of pure and sheer popularity."

"Misguided populism has taken center stage and has overshadowed the substance of politics and governance. We have to elevate the standards of our politics," Drilon told his newfound party mates.

"How did we get into this?" he asked. He blamed the Marcos years for destroying political parties that represented programs and ideas and replaced them with the politics of personalities.

But it’s not too late to strengthen political parties and make them play a vital role in elections by advocating and promoting philosophies and ideologies instead of political personalities, he said.

As LP chairman, Drilon said he would work for the enactment of the electoral reform bill that aims to regulate campaign contributions to politicians, prohibit political opportunism and provide funding to national political parties.

He would also work for economic reforms.

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, LP’s executive vice president, hailed the entry of Drilon into the party as chairman.

"Senate President Drilon is certainly a welcome addition to the Liberal Party. We believe that he would be able to provide an enlightened and principled leadership as he strongly adheres to the ideals that the party stands for," Atienza said.

Drilon was elected senator in 1995 under the Lakas-Laban coalition and won re-election in 2001 under the administration coalition. He left the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) in the year 2000 and remained nominally an independent prior to his joining the LP.

Drilon decried that Filipinos "seem to be continually engaged in a battle for good governance and economic sufficiency."

"We have been bruised, we have been scarred. The wounds inflicted on us are so deep. While the healing process will take time, one thing is clear: the healing process must begin now," he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate head appealed to soldiers to remain loyal to the "constitutional government because any alternative to democracy would only be disastrous for our country and our people."

He made the appeal in the wake of reports that a new group in the military that styles itself as "Patriotic Soldiers of the Filipinos-AFP" is calling for the overthrow of President Arroyo.

Drilon said military rule, like the one that the late President Ferdinand Marcos imposed in the ’70s and ’80s, won’t improve the lives of the people, including soldiers.

"Civil liberties will be curtailed. Even the soldiers themselves and their families will suffer because their civil rights would also be abolished. Everybody’s life would be unprotected and subject to abuses. There would no assurance of improvement in the economic life of the people," he said.

Worse, a military dictatorship would result in a fratricidal war among Filipinos that could set back the nation’s growth by decades, he added.

ATIENZA DEMOKRATIKONG PILIPINO DRILON FERNANDO POE JR. LABAN LIBERAL PARTY MANILA MAYOR LITO ATIENZA PATRIOTIC SOLDIERS OF THE FILIPINOS PRESIDENT ARROYO PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS
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