‘Liberal Party has no choice but to become voice of opposition’

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2016 01:23 PM

MANILA -- Following the resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo from the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Liberal Party (LP) now has “no choice” but to become the voice of the opposition, a lawmaker said Sunday.

Caloocan City Representative and LP chair for political affairs Edgar Erice said the party must accept the challenge of providing checks and balance.

“In order to remain relevant, the party must now accept the challenge of providing the much needed critical thinking at this time,” he said in an interview on ANC’s “Dateline Philippines.”

“I think the major role of the opposition, of the Liberal party, is to be the provider of checks and balance,” he added.

Erice noted that it is "unthinkable" for LP members to remain with the ruling political party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), when their chairman is now the head of the opposition.

"We’re calling for all the LP leaders to rally behind Vice President Leni. It’s unthinkable that the leader of the opposition, the Vice President, our chairman, and there are members who belong to the administration party coalition," he said.

The Liberal Party has since been asked to leave the supermajority of Congress, which is dominated by supporters of Duterte, and follow the footsteps of Robredo who left her post as Housing Secretary.

Robredo left her post as Housing czar after receiving instructions from the President, through a text message sent by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., to “desist” from attending Cabinet

The Vice President has since become more vocal in saying that she will be more critical of the administration's policies which she does not agree with.

Erice stressed that it was not the LP who convinced Robredo to head the opposition, but the administration itself, after she was told not to attend Cabinet meetings.

“It’s not our doing. It’s the administration’s doing because suddenly minarginalize nila 'yung aming chairman by instructing her not to attend Cabinet meetings. Parang sinasabi nila na mag-resign ka na lang sa pagiging miyembro ng gabinete and then we have no choice,” he said.

(They suddenly marginalized our chairman by instructing her not to attend Cabinet meetings. It’s like they are telling her to just resign from being a Cabinet member.)

Erice said he feels that most of the LP leaders seem “castrated” to play the role of checks-and-balances out of fear from criticism.

“Parang castrated kami ngayon na mga leader ng Liberal Party maybe because maybe many of us are afraid. Every time na meron kaming criticism, naba-bash kami sa social media,” he said.

(It seems that we Liberal Party leaders are castrated. Everytime that we have criticism, we are bashed on social media.)

Erice also pointed out that critics of Robredo’s membership in the LP should understand that she now leads the party. “She was elected as a member of the Liberal Party. So it’s a fact that she is now the chairman of the Liberal Party.”

The Liberal Party is set to meet early next year, according to Erice, to formally discuss the party’s stance in certain issues since no formal assembly has been made following the May polls.

“Alternative thinking must be heard by the people and it’s up to the people to decide which side to take,” Erice said.