Rebuilding from ground up
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

There is strength in numbers, as one popular cliché goes. However, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, president of the decimated ranks of the Liberal Party (LP), looks at the numbers in a different light. From historical perspective, Pangilinan believes the LP went through “cleansing” of ranks when they were reduced by defections to the new party in power.

Of course, the LP turncoats all jumped to the PDP-Laban of President Rodrigo Duterte after they won under the LP banner during the May 2016 elections.

From the latest count of Pangilinan, there are currently four sitting LP Senators, including him. But one of them – Senator Leila de Lima – has been sidelined since February 2017 following her detention in Camp Crame, Quezon City on conspiracy charges related to illegal drugs trade while she was then Justice Secretary. The rest are Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Bam Aquino.

At the House of Representatives, Pangilinan noted, LP was left with 18 congressmen after more than 115 of them defected to the PDP-Laban as the new ruling majority in the 17th Congress. It was the natural course of political developments in the country. This after LP’s standard-bearer former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II lost to the former Davao City Mayor in the presidential race.

It was not a total rout though as Roxas’runningmate, former Camarines Sur Congresswoman Leni Robredo won the vice presidential elections. As the highest elected official of the party, Vice President Robredo is the national chairperson of LP. As of this writing though, Vice President Robredo is still fighting the election protest against her by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

He also cited seven out of 12 senatorial candidates and more than 100 congressmen won. “So I don’t think the LP was rejected. And yes, we fell short. We made mistakes,” he admitted.

Learning from their “mistakes,” Pangilinan admitted this prompted the LP leadership to rebuild their party starting from the grassroots, go back to basic, and regroup. And regroup the LP did when they launched “Project Makinig” last Oct. 6.

We had Pangilinan along with Ivan Paul Picazo, project coordinator and volunteer engagement of “Project Makinig” in our Kapihan sa Manila Bay last Wednesday at Café Adriatico, Malate. As LP president, Pangilinan is the recognized “brains” behind this project. A key component of leadership is the ability to listen, Pangilinan cited as the guiding principle of “Project Makinig.”

Pangilinan described it as a volunteer-driven listening campaign that seeks to promote genuine interaction among Filipinos starting from online conversation to face-to-face talk with them. “Ang laking difference ng social media sa face-to-face. In social media, it’s so toxic. But when faced with real people, there is a realization that pare-pareho pala tayo ng hinaharap na problema. There’s a connection,” Pangilinan told us.

Living up to the name of this project, the LP leadership went on a listening mode using the social media as platform to enlist volunteers who share the LP ideals on nationhood. 

“We have to go back to our citizens. We have to listen to them. We have to learn from them,” Pangilinan pointed out.

The “Project Makinig” has since then been adopted by various groups such as Magdalo, Akbayan, Team Pilipinas, Kilos Maralita, Millennials PH, and other youth and civil society organizations. Pangilinan admitted the volunteers of “Project Makinig” may eventually evolved as campaign supporters of the eight-man senatorial candidates of this newly formed LP-led coalition ticket.

Their eight candidates are, namely, Roxas (ex-LP president); election lawyer Romulo Macalintal; Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano; ex-LP Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada; dean of the La Salle College of Law and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno (independent); ex-Solicitor-general Florin Hilbay of Aksyon Demokratiko; Muslim woman leader Samira Gutoc of Tindig Pilipinas; and, LP re-electionist Bam Aquino.

Thus, Pangilinan said, the opposition coalition senatorial ticket could not be described as “dilawan,” or the color yellow associated with LP. Their battle cry “Ocho Diretso,” he said, is a strategic goal than field a full slate of 12 candidates. And eight is “fung shui” number of luck for the Chinese, if I may add.

To beef up “Project Makinig” volunteers, Pangilinan disclosed, Team Pilipinas added as many as 2,500 of their members to campaign for the LP-led coalition ticket.    

According to Picazo, “Project Makinig” has since gathered over 4,000 volunteers who have been knocking on doors of more than 73,000 households nationwide. Now on its final two weeks before it ends their enlisting campaign on Dec. 15, Picazo said they aim to finish with 6,000 volunteers.

Relating his own experience, Picazo, 33 years old, is a campus missionary for six years from Victory Fellowship before he joined “Project Makinig” last October. He was invited to join by a former college friend from the University of the Philippines who made him answer online the following eight questions:

1. What’s the happiest moment in your life last year?

2. What do you hope to happen in your life for next year?

3. What maybe the obstacles do you foresee?

4. What works in the Philippines today?

5. What doesn’t work in the Philippines today?

6. What concrete, specific programs/projects in your community do you want to see implemented?

7. What do you expect from the government?

8. What do ordinary Filipinos like us can do to help the country?

These eight questions were, perhaps by coincidence, correspond to the number of senatorial candidates of the opposition coalition.

“Project Makinig” sign-ups are still open at Browsing online, I found a Facebook page called “Senator Kiko Pangilinan for President 2022 Movement.” Ehem…

“I do not see 2022 yet,” Pangilinan quipped with a smile. For now, Pangilinan is busy rebuilding LP from the ground up.

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