MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo rallied members of the Liberal Party to continue to become beacons of hope, as the country goes through another “dark period.”
This was the central message of the LP chairperson as the former dominant party gathered to celebrate its 72nd anniversary on Friday, January 19, in Quezon City. (READ: Robredo to LP: ‘We were made for times such as this’)
Robredo recalled times in history when LP’s membership had been reduced, the same way it did after the end of the president of LP chairman emeritus Benigno Aquino III in 2016, when members moved to the new ruling party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
She also said the country had gone through dark times when all hope seemed lost, and the party always stepped up to the challenge.
“Marami na pong yugto iyong ating kasaysayan na nabalot din tayo sa kadiliman. Marami nang yugto iyong ating kasaysayan na akala din ng marami wala nang pag-asa iyong ating bayan. Pero madalas sino iyong tumatayo, sino iyong tumitindig para ipakipaglaban iyong [ating] mga paniniwala? Liberal Party po iyon,” said Robredo, amid applause from her party mates.
(There were many times in history when the country was also wrapped in darkness. There were many times in history when many thought there was no more hope for the nation. But who usually stands up for our beliefs? The Liberal Party.)
She said there were also just a few LP members during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, but the strength of the party was not measured by its membership. Robredo said LP drew its strength from its firm resolve to stand up to the despot.
“Kaya iyong ating kasaysayan po, isa lamang iyong aral na binibigay sa atin – gaano man kalakas ang hamon, gaano man kalakas ang kasamaan, gaano man kabigat ang problemang pinagdadaanan, mas matingkad pa rin at mas angat pa rin iyong paniniwala natin bilang miyembro ng Partido Liberal,” the Vice President said.
(There’s only one lesson our history teaches us – no matter how strong the challenge, no matter how strong evil forces are, no matter how heavy the problem we’re facing, the beliefs of every member of the Liberal Party will still shine brighter and rise above everything.)
“Madalas po, marami tayong nakakausap na parating ang tanong, ‘May pag-asa pa kaya?” At parati pong ang sagot ko: Sa kahuli-hulihan, parating tama iyong mananaig. Pero mananaig lamang po iyong tama kapag hindi tayo napagod ipaglaban iyong tamang iyon,” she added.
(Many ask me, ‘Is there still hope?’ I always say this: In the end, what is right will prevail. But it will only do so if we do not stop fighting for what is right.)
Not a full-on opposition though
On Friday, some 500 non-politicians from Manila, Cebu, and Robredo’s hometown Naga took their oath as LP members.
LP members in Congress such as detained Senator Leila de Lima are among the staunchest and most vocal critics of President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies, particularly his bloody war on drugs.
Robredo has not taken on the role of an opposition leader, even she is against the administration’s drug war, the threats against freedom of expression, and the hero’s burial for strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Robredo had also distanced herself from the anti-Duterte coalition Tindig Pilipinas, which counts among its members several LP politicians.
Those close to the Vice President said she could not risk completely disengaging from the government yet, as access to Duterte and the Cabinet can help advance Robredo’s pro-poor agenda.