Home Editors' Picks Liberal Party to work with Marcos gov’t on worthy projects — spokesperson

Liberal Party to work with Marcos gov’t on worthy projects — spokesperson

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A PHILIPPINE opposition party on Thursday said it is willing to work with the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on key programs if it means holding his predecessor to account.

Liberal Party spokesperson ex-Senator Leila M. de Lima said the Marcos government provided a “breathing room” after former President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs killed thousands of mostly poor suspects.

“There’s nothing that will prevent us [from working with the administration] if there are worthy initiatives from the BBM (Bongbong Marcos) administration, especially in terms of good governance,” she told a forum.

Ms. De Lima said the Marcos government has been tolerant of opposing voices and has “brought the rent-seeking order back to its favorite normal and stable character, where everyone in the system gets a chance to partake of government largesse.”

A return of the tough-talking leader to power would be a “nightmare” for the country, she said, noting that 2016 “was a wake-up call to the steady regression of our political system into a political monopoly.”

Ms. De Lima said the Liberal Party would assume a “fiscalizing” role under the Marcos administration.

“We are still part of the opposition coalition, but it doesn’t mean that our party will not sit down with the BBM administration in certain initiatives that would be attuned to our ideals.”

The party, which suffered major losses in previous elections, will begin its preparations for the 2025 midterm elections next week, she said.

Candidates in the senatorial, congressional and local elections will start filing their certificates of candidacy in October.

Ms. De Lima separately told BusinessWorld by phone that former Senators Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV are eyeing a Senate return as opposition candidates.

Human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” I. Diokno may also seek a Senate seat, she added.

Mr. Pangilinan and Mr. Diokno ran for vice president and senator, respectively, in 2022 but lost. Mr. Aquino, the cousin of the late President Benigno S.C. Aquino III, failed in his reelection bid in 2019.

Ms. De lima said ex-Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, who lost to Mr. Marcos in 2022, is still being convinced by her party mates to run for senator.

Mr. Marcos, 66, has shunned key policies of his predecessor by standing up to China and pursuing closer ties with the US and other western allies.

Mr. Marcos and Mr. Duterte earlier this month traded accusations over drug use, after the firebrand leader attacked him at a political rally in Davao City that was highly critical of the push to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Ms. De Lima said the former president is afraid of losing his political capital amid an International Criminal Court investigation of his deadly war on drugs. His daughter Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio is Mr. Marcos’sEducation secretary.

Mr. Duterte has bared a plan to separate the southern island of Mindanao from the rest of the nation, an idea that has been criticized by government agencies and lawmakers from Mindanao.

Amid the widening rift within the ruling coalition, “the people grow more impatient for an alternative,” Ms. De Lima said.

“In the end, the Filipino people have one basic question: What is the relevance or benefit of this political power play? Our people have had enough of the elite social order blanketed behind the veneer of liberal democracy that is nothing more than democracy for the powerful and well-connected.”

Ms. De Lima urged opposition forces to push an alternative that broad-based and from the grassroots. “By now we should have learned our lesson that the Philippine modernization project cannot be borne on the back of a popular presidential contender supported by a traditional political party,” she said.

“The alternative lies in another kind of politics, the progressive and participative kind that draws its strength from a people fighting for their common interests under a banner of social and political transformation.”

A Philippine trial court in November granted the bail plea of Ms. De Lima, who was jailed in 2017 on drug trafficking charges that she said were fabricated to muzzle her investigation of Mr. Duterte’s deadly war on drugs. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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