MANILA—The Liberal Party is eyeing the youth sector to rebuild support for the political party that was wiped out of the recent senatorial race, its officers said Tuesday.
Despite its failure to land at least 1 Senate seat, the party is optimistic that opposition coalition Otso Diretso has "inspired students and young people," Liberal Party President Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan told ANC's "Dateline Philippines."
"The mock election results and campuses nationwide places our candidates in the top 10. That in itself is something we would continue to push through with," Pangilinan said, who was also Otso Diretso's campaign manager.
"We have to build from what we were able to establish," he said.
The party wants to encourage millennials to register as voters and participate in discourses leading up to the 2022 elections, he said.
"I believe we are in a better place after the 90-day campaign than we were before in terms of the ranks of the opposition, in terms of the ranks of people supportive of the party," Pangilinan said.
With only 4 senators and 18 House members under its banner in the 18th Congress, the Liberal Party needs to "attract new blood," the party's vice president for external affairs Erin Tañada told ABS-CBN News in an earlier interview.
"Maybe it's time to restudy how we would attract new blood and new members and make the members play a very important role in playing party decisions," Tañada said.
Most of the party's members moved to PDP-Laban in 2016 after then-Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte defeated LP standard bearer Mar Roxas in the presidential race.
According to University of Santo Tomas political science professor Edmund Tayao, the party needs to "rebrand" and distance itself from old political names that voters have shunned both in the 2016 and 2019 elections.
"Even if you have new blood, as long as they are identified with particular personalities — like the Aquinos, Roxas — it won't work. We've seen this with Otso Diretso where most of the candidates were new names [in politics]," he said.
The Aquino name "lost its spark" because "not much happened" under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, who remains Liberal Party stalwart.
"The name Aquino used to be known as straight, freedom fighters, akin to good governance . . . There was high expectations from the Aquino government because it was preceded by scandal-ridden administration, but there was really not much that happened," he said.
The same administration, where Otso Diretso candidate Mar Roxas served as transportation, communication, and interior secretary, was also riddled with controversies such as the massacre of 44 elite troopers due to lack of government coordination, and frequent glitches in train systems.
The party needs to look beyond its limited membership and train "younger, more compelling leaders," University of the Philippines political science professor Ranjit Rye added.
"If the Vico Sotto phenomena is an example, if you get good compelling, energetic leaders to represent your platform and programs, you get voters to listen to you," Rye said referring to the 29-year-old newly-elected mayor who ended the nearly 3-decade rule of the Eusebio dynasty in Pasig City.
"It should not be on the media, it should be something real."
Tañada said young leaders such as Sotto are on any party's radar.
"Automatic papasa kasi matibay ang paninindigan niya sa mga issue. He is the non-traditional politician that parties would look for," he said.
Despite the need for new members, the LP should not rush into scouting young leaders and should just "wait for the right time," party stalwart and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said.
"I don't think that anybody in Congress would want to join LP at this time," Erice said.
"We will just continue with what we have. We'd just exercise our task to provide check and balance.
"I rather wait for the right time . . . [Kasi] Bigla na lang lumalabas 'yun," he said, referring to neophytes like Sotto who could pull big wins that take the public by surprise.