CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Vice presidential bet Senator Francis Pangilinan on Friday, March 25, swore in 157 mostly young new members of the Liberal Party (LP) in Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon, and tasked them to bring the opposition campaign to the streets and homes, to win in the May elections.
Pangilinan, LP president, told the party members to take it upon themselves to go “house-to-house and street-to-street” like other groups now supporting the ticket led by presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo.
“Walang bahay ang ating palalampasin; walang daan na hindi natin papasukin (We will not skip any houses; there’s no road we won’t enter),” Pangilinan said.
The senator barnstormed in Northern Mindanao on Day 1 of the 45-day campaign period for local candidates, joining his old allies in the LP, and meeting with several groups in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Cagayan de Oro.
Before LP members, he said he was optimistic that ramping up the grassroots campaign nationwide would spell the difference in the coming weeks for the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket.
“Gagawin natin lahat huwag lang manumbalik ang pang-aabuso, ang mga kurakot, plundering, at revisionism ng kasaysayan (We will do everything to stop the return of abuses, the corrupt, the plunderers, and historical revisionism),” he said.
The LP, he said, has always been at the forefront in the struggle for democracy and freedom, citing the party’s “fallen heroes” such as the late Zamboanga mayor Cesar Climaco, Antique mayor Evelio Javier, and former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. whose assassination sparked the 1986 Edsa Revolution that ended the Marcos dictatorship.
“Sanay tayong tumayo para sa ating panindigan, binubuwis ang buhay (We are used to standing for our principles even if it means laying down our lives),” Pangilinan said.
He said the LP has started revitalizing itself by infusing “new blood” into the party.
The LP saw an exodus of members in 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte rose to power and turned the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) into the ruling party. Today, the PDP-Laban has been greatly weakened as a result of internal squabbles and a power struggle among its leaders.
Pangilinan also joined his old ally, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno, in a rally in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, that launched the local chief executive’s campaign for governor.
He was in Manolo Fortich town in Bukidnon earlier in the day to support another old ally in the LP, former presidential adviser on environmental protection Nereus “Neric” Acosta, who is running for congressman in the Bukidnon’s 1st District.
They met with farmers from various towns in the agriculture-dependent Bukidnon where Pangilinan expounded on his food security agenda.
Pangilinan, an advocate of agricultural modernization, called for an end to what he called the government’s “import-centric policies,” and for measures that would cushion the impact of extreme weather conditions on the farming sector.
For starters, he said, the government should ensure that the purchase of the produce of Filipino farmers before even allowing food importation.
“We are instead helping farmers from other countries because we keep on importing,” Pangilinan said.
Hunger, he said, has become prevalent in the country because food prices are high.
Pangilinan’s Sagip Saka Law mandates local and national governments to buy directly from local farmers and fishers. – Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship