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Kiko denies LP hand in supposed moves to oust Koko

PhilStar Global logo PhilStar Global 5/18/2017 Audrey Morallo

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Thursday disassociated himself and the Liberal Party from alleged efforts to oust Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel as senate president as he blasted some of the party defectors for claiming that they transferred because of its lack of leadership.

Pangilinan, the LP president, said that "we are not behind any such effort." He added that "events have helped define and consolidate our position as a credible check-and-balance to the administration, which is necessary in a democracy." 

He also blasted some of former Liberals who have transferred to the administration's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Labas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) for claiming that they left because of  LP's supposed lack of leadership.

Pangilinan said that the turncoats left the party because of its strong stance against a number of administration policies such as the re-imposition of the death penalty and the government's drug war.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan disassociated the Liberal Party from alleged moves to remove Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III from his post. Kristine Joyce Campaña, File © Sen. Francis Pangilinan disassociated the Liberal Party from alleged moves to remove Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III from his post. Kristine Joyce Campaña, File

"After being portrayed as a strong force at the Senate, those who are leaving the party, according to a news report that did not name its source(s), blamed 'absence of leadership' for their decision," he said. "It's more the opposite: They are leaving LP because of the presence of leadership now speaking out against a number of policies of the administration, such as the position against the death penalty, extrajudicial killings, etc."

Last week, LP was hit by defections by several lawmakers and local government officials. Five LP members of the House shifted allegiance to PDP-Laban, increasing the latter's number there to 121, while reducing that of the former to 28.

If the number of LP members at the House goes down to fewer than 24, at the powerful Commission on Appointments, which approves or rejects the appointments to key government posts. The LP seat is currently held by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato.

Aside from the lawmakers, several local government officials in Quezon City also transferred to PDP-Laban.

Turncoats are usual in Philippine politics since many of the parties are just alliances of convenience rather than ideology and principles.

Politicians shift their allegiances regularly depending on the party in government which has enormous control over its resources and projects.

The demonization of LP as a "yellow demon" was evidence that the Senate opposition's criticism had impact on politics on the ground, according to Pangilinan, as "supporters of a very powerful and very popular administration paint the Liberal Party a yellow demon responsible for all of society's ills."

Admitting that LP faces an uphill battle to rebuild itself, Pangilinan said: "and our weapon in this our post-truth, volatile, and complex world of trolls, fake news, and lies? A clear and convincing vision of the future, with the truth told a thousand times."

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