MANILA - Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Tuesday said he will run for a second legislative term next year, but added that the Liberal Party has yet to finalize its Senate slate for the 2022 national elections.
"That's the plan. Nakita ko na marami pa ring challenges sa agriculture sector," Pangilinan said in an online press conference.
All four members of the Senate's opposition bloc will exit the chamber in 2022. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon will finish the 2 consecutive term limit for senators, while Sen. Leila de Lima and Sen. Risa Hontiveros are eligible for re-election.
Liberal Party members and former senators Bam Aquino and Mar Roxas have yet to say if they plan to make a Senate comeback next year, said Pangilinan, who also sits as LP president.
"Bam is weighing in. He has not made a decision, but if he does decide, we will welcome his decision to run," he said.
Roxas, on the other hand, seems to be "enjoying his retirement," the LP president said.
"He's enjoying his retirement. It's up to him if he wants to [run again]," he said.
The LP is also open to considering former Otso Diretso candidates who want to run in the 2022 elections, he said.
Former Otso Diretso candidate and human right lawyer Chel Diokno earlier said he would launch another Senate bid next year, but has yet to say if he would join the LP slate or run as an independent candidate.
Instead of recruiting prominent candidates, the opposition will "have to address the weaponization of social media," Pangilinan said.
Aquino and Roxas - who were both part of the LP-backed Otso Diretso slate in 2019 - "had the biggest chances of winning" in the last midterm polls, but "were the most trolled" among opposition candidates, he said.
"I saw Bam a month after the  elections, he said, 'I'm still posting but wala nang trolls,'" Pangilinan said.
"It was a well-oiled, well-funded, well-orchestrated demonization campaign against the opposition," he said.
The Liberals have been trying to strengthen their grip on the grassroots level by recruiting more members into the party.
So far, the LP is close to having 5,000 individuals on the ground, Pangilinan said, admitting that this is 70,000 people short of the party's target number of new members.
The LP has also established 160 chapters nationwide, he said. This is less than half of the party's target 400 chapters.