Aquino tells LP not to be the villain under Duterte admin: Baguilat

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2017 06:21 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2017 06:38 PM

MANILA - Former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III told members of the Liberal Party who attended the caucus on Tuesday to be critical, but not adversarial towards the Duterte administration.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat told ANC on Wednesday, Aquino was sticking to his "self-imposed moratorium not to comment or not to criticize this administration," but told his party-mates that they may take part in being the administration's opposition.

"[Aquino] emphasized that we’re not out looking for a fight, hindi tayo naghahanap ng kaaway because it seems this administration is trying its best to look for enemies. That’s not going to be our role," Baguilat said.

"Hindi tayo basta kontrabida dito, but we also cannot accept everything and just be quiet," he added.

Baguilat maintained that Aquino "was not imposing" anything on them, but told them that if they believe it's high time to be critical of the administration, "then perhaps let’s embrace that role."

"While he said, 'Let’s wait until July 1 this year,' he said that if we feel napapanahon na and he feels there’s a strong clamor to have a strong leadership among the political opposition, maybe that’s going to be Liberal Party’s role," said Baguilat. 

Although Baguilat was noncommittal on whether LP leaders accepted Aquino's advice, he maintained that it was more important for the members to decide.

"Of course, it’s good that our former leaders, the President, once in a while gives us these words of wisdom; but at the end of the day, I do agree that now, we have a new leadership in the party, so it’s time they assert themselves," he said.

Aquino himself deflected questions on what had transpired in the closed-door meeting, emphasizing that he no longer holds office.

Baguilat noted, Aquino was actually the only former leader present in the meeting. The other former LP leaders were conspicuously absent."

"It’s like sending a message that, okay, we’ve had our time; now it’s your turn. But we’re always there to give you advice once in a while," he said.

"The initial invitation is that we will be talking to the Vice President as the chairperson and then Senator Pangilinan. The President was an impromptu guest, I guess. We didn’t expect him to be around," he added.

LP lawmakers met at a restaurant in Quezon City Monday, a day after their senator-members were stripped of plum posts at the Upper Chamber and then joined the minority.

Among the items discussed was the death penalty and if the LP members at the House of Representatives are also to leave the supermajority.