MANILA (UPDATE) — Veteran lawmaker Edcel Lagman on Friday took the helm of the Liberal Party (LP) and vowed its political comeback in the 2025 midterm elections following consecutive poll heartbreaks.
Lagman, representative of the first district of Albay, was elected as new LP president at the Club Filipino in San Juan.
"We look forward to the 2025 midterm elections and beyond. Babalik tayo. As your president, I am not ready to incant the requiem of the Liberal Party. I assume the presidency to lift up the Liberal Party from the ashes of the May 2022 elections," Lagman said.
(We will come back.)
Lagman took over the role from former senator Francis Pangilinan, who lost the May vice-presidential race.
“We are not done yet, we may not have reached our desired goals of victory in 2022 but we have ignited a fire in the hearts of millions of our people, especially the youth,” Pangilinan said.
“To borrow from scripture, Moses never reached the promised land but in time a Jousha shall emerge to complete the journey,” he added.
Pangilinan's running-mate, former LP chairperson and former Vice President Leni Robredo, also lost by a wide margin to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the 2022 polls.
Robredo, who now chairs the non-government organization Angat Buhay, also gave a video message to her party-mates.
While she no longer holds a leadership position in the party, Lagman said Robredo would still be active in the Liberal Party.
“Papunta na tayo sa bagong yugto bilang isang partido, baunin sana natin ang inspirasyon at pag-asa ng mga nakaraang buwan sa pagharap sa mga hamon ng panahon,” Robredo said.
(We are approaching a new chapter as a party. May we take the inspiration and hope from the past months as we face the challenges.)
In 2019, the LP's Senate candidates also failed to make it to the winning circle.
But for Lagman, "hiatus is not an option" for the party.
"In fact, now is the time to perpetuate the legacies of LP. We may be small in numbers now but we are far from insignificant. For what we lack in numbers, we compensate with the unquestionable quality and excellence of our members," he said.
The opposition lawmaker said the party needs unity and young blood to stay relevant and expand its ranks. Lagman also expressed openness to alliances.
"We must take pride in the Liberal Party’s illustrious past. Icons in Philippine political history were principal navigators of the Party," he said.
Lagman has been elected representative of Albay's first district for 9 congressional terms. By 2025, he would be one of the country’s longest serving legislators, being a member of the House of Representatives for 29 years.
The party’s National Executive Council also elected former lawmakers Kit Belmonte as vice chairman, Erin Tañada as executive vice president, Teddy Baguilat as secretary General. Oriental Mindoro Second District Rep. Alfonso “Boy” Umali was elected as treasurer.
Iloilo Provincial Board Member Jason Gonzalez will stay as director general. Pangilinan is now party chairman.
— With a report from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News