MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party denied anew accusations of President Rodrigo Duterte that it is plotting his ouster.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, LP president, noted the erosion in the ranks of the former ruling party after the May elections.
“The alleged plot is untrue. There is no such plot. In fact, the bulk of the so-called 'yellows' have abandoned the LP ship and are now card-carrying members of other parties and aligned with Malacañang,” Pangilinan said in a text message on Thursday, December 8.
"Yellow" is the color associated with the LP, the party of former president Benigno Aquino III.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said the allegation against LP is“unfounded.”
“Wala pong katotohanan iyan (There is no truth to that). We respect the mandate of our people. But certainly we would state our positions on various positions na baka naman hindi sang-ayon doon sa position ng Pangulo (that might be against the President's position),” Drilon said.
“So these are views that we expressed as a party and they have nothing to do with any plan allegedly to oust the president. We deny that categorically,” Drilon said.
“Yung mga Yellow diyan, nagdedemonstrate kayo (You Yellow, you are demonstrating)…You want me out because you cannot accept defeat,” said Duterte.
“Pulitika ito eh (This is politics). They wanted me out, syempre yung (of course the) Vice President – kayo, you had your chance,” added Duterte, mentioning Vice President Leni Robredo, the LP member with the highest position in government.
This is a free country
For LP senators, their dissent on certain issues does not translate to a brewing ouster plot.
Party members have consistently denounced the rising number of extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs, the plans to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, calls to lower the age of criminal liability, the proposal revival of the death penalty, and the hero’s burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos, among others issues.
Pangilinan said in a democracy like the Philippines is a democracy expressions of opposition to certain administration policies are expected, and not part of a political scheme against Duterte.
“Being critical of the burial of Marcos in the Libingan or being critical of the spate of extra judicial killings does not mean we want Duterte ousted,” Pangilinan said.
“We are in a democracy and dissent and rallies should be seen simply as such in a democracy and should not be viewed as part of a so called larger conspiracy,” he added.
Senator Leila de Lima, one of Duterte’s fiercest critics, said the so-called "yellows," just like other citizens, deserve to be heard.
“The President seems to be forgetting that this is a free country, where all citizens have the right – nay the sacred duty – to speak up about serious issues affecting our nation,” De Lima said in a statement.
“Labeling people as 'yellows' does not, cannot and should not unclothe them of their rights and duties as citizens. We, as much as everyone else in this nation, are the President's people. When we speak, should he not listen to us, instead of silencing us or hurling unfounded and paranoid accusations against us?” she said.
Despite this, the LP is keen on sticking it out with the Senate "supermajority." The party members in the Senate said the situation in their chamber is different from the House, as they still retain their "independence."
As members of the majority bloc, LP members hold lofty posts in Senate committees. Drilon holds the 2nd highest post in the chamber. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org