Liberal Party president Senator Francis Pangilinan and secretary general Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte resigned Tuesday to take responsibility for the party’s losses in the midterm elections, but LP chairman, Vice President Leni Robredo, rejected their resignation.
“The Vice President has not accepted [their]…resignations. Much work remains to be done, and they will do it, together,” Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez said in a statement.
The LP-led Otso Diretso opposition slate was shut out of the winner’s circle in the senatorial races during the May 13 elections.
Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, an LP member, confirmed the resignation of the two party officials but played it down, it saying, “It was a courtesy resignation as an aftermath of the election.”
Lagman and Belmonte are among few the LP members who won seats in the next Congress.
Defeated Otso Diretso candidate and Rep. Gary Alejano said “despite the dismal electoral outcome,” he did not attribute the loss to a failure of leadership in managing the campaign.
“The LP membership from the bottom, including our cadre of volunteers, continues to maintain our confidence in Senator Pangilinan’s leading our party in these difficult times.”
Belmonte, meanwhile, warned of a “tyranny of the supermajority” as President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies won seats in droves.
Belmonte vowed to oppose the supermajority tooth and nail.
“There may be few of us but right or wrong cannot be determined by the raising of hands,” he said.
As campaign manager for the Otso Diretso slate, Pangilinan said he was unable to ensure their victory in the last elections.
The Otso Diretso candidates were Aquino, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, former Quezon Rep. Erin Tanada, election lawyer Romulo Makalintal, outgoing Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and former Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
Aquino, the best performing among the Otso Diretso, has remained in the 14th spot behind the administration candidates.
Pangilinan said he assumed full responsibility for the outcome and held himself primarily accountable for their loss.
“Taking full responsibility for the results of the national elections which saw the opposition slate Otso Diretso suffer a complete shutout, Senator Francis Pangilinan has handed his letter of resignation as
Liberal Party president to party chairperson Vice President Leni Robredo,” read a statement from Pangilinan’s Office.
But Pangilinan said their fight was not over, even after the elections.
He pressed the Commission on Elections to release details and information on the 961 defective vote counting machines and the 1,655 corrupted SD cards.
He also demanded for the full technical report of the “technical glitch” that delayed the transmission of election results by the Comelec’s transparency server by seven hours.
Meanwhile, Senator Leila M. de Lima vowed that the opposition would not waver on its firm resolve to stand up and fight the second phase of the Duterte administration’s authoritarianism.
De Lima, detained on drug charges, said that while the opposition may have suffered a huge loss in the recently-concluded midterm elections, it is never an option for them to give up on what they are fighting for.
“Yes, it is another setback. Yes, this is no ordinary loss. But with loss comes the opportunity to learn. And we won’t learn anything if we let ourselves wallow in disappointment or give in to hopelessness,” she said.
The Palace on Tuesday commended Pangilinan for stepping down as LP president, saying his action showed that the opposition has accepted defeat in the midterm elections.
Eight of President Duterte’s senatorial candidates made it to the Top 12.
Panelo said the Liberal Party lost to the PDP-Laban because the people repudiated the opposition’s attacks against the Duterte administration.
“For us, the reason they lost is that the people didn’t believe them. The people believed President Duterte,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said the remaining four opposition senators would provide the needed checks and balances in the administration-dominated chamber.
“The rules and the tradition of the Senate will always recognize the voice of the minority. There is no railroading in the Senate,” said Drilon.
He said they would continue to study every law in the agenda during Senate sessions.
He also said the minority members will not beg for committees. He acknowledged that under the rules, the committee chairmanship is the decision of the majority.
On Monday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters that except for the chairmanship of the Senate committees, there will be a status quo in the leadership of the chamber.
Senator Ralph Recto will remain Senate President Pro Tempore while Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri will remain Senate Majority Leader.