Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday, May 21, resigned as president of the Liberal Party (LP), following the devastating loss of all eight opposition senatorial candidates.
However, Vice President Leni Robredo, LP chair, rejected his resignation along with that of Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte as LP secretary general.
“The Vice President has not accepted Senator Kiko’s and Cong. Kit’s resignations. Much work remains to be done, and they will do it, together,” said lawyer Barry Gutierrez, spokesperson of Robredo, in a statement.
According to Pangilinan, he “should be held accountable for this inability to win the elections” since he served as campaign manager for Otso Diretso.
“We were unable to accomplish the task so the one charge must be held to account. Tendering my resignation is the signal that I assume full responsibility for the results of the campaign,” he told ANC.
Robredo on Sunday, May 19, expressed her disappointment over the loss of the Otso Diretso candidates in the recent senatorial elections, insisting the need for a “balanced” Senate in the remaining three years of the Duterte administration.
LP, for its part, urged the Commission on Elections to expedite ruling on its manifestation and motion filed on May 17 to have the glitches investigated. The party also sought the release of transparency servers’ audit and system logs as well as the full report on technical glitches.
“We want to get to the bottom of the glitches, we want to get to the bottom of the election returns, malfunctioning VCMs (vote counting machines), corrupted SD cards,” Pangilinan said.
He also clarified that he will neither quit LP or become inactive after tendering his resignation from his post.
“I have no intention of becoming inactive. We will continue in building the party, building the coalition and preparing for the coming days,” he said.
“There is the issue of charter change, there is this continuing issue of extra-judicial killings, there is the issue of China and our sovereignty. In the next 3 years, these will be even more critical,” Pangilinan added.
No one’s fault
According to Sen. Leila de Lima, no one should be blamed for the opposition’s defeat since the machinery used to destroy LP and the rest of Otso Diretso was too strong.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, LP vice chairman, echoed the sentiment, saying the opposition’s defeat was not Pangilinan’s fault “because he exerted his best efforts with our limited resources.”
“Unfortunately, we were overwhelmed by the resources coming from the majority,” Drilon said.
“[Pangilinan] feels bad because despite everything that he did, we did not succeed. I can understand where he is coming from,” he added.
De Lima lamented the loss but assured they would not back down in fighting the Duterte administration’s authoritarianism.
“With loss comes the opportunity to learn. And we won’t learn anything if we let ourselves wallow in disappointment or give in to hopelessness,” she said.
Malacañang on Tuesday commended Pangilinan’s resignation, saying it meant the senator accepts defeat.
According to Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the loss of the opposition was due to the voters not believing in them.
He added that the “overwhelming majority” of the electorate responded to the hugely popular Duterte’s call to support those whom he said would help pass laws supporting his goal “to uplift the masses of our people and give them comfortable lives they richly deserve.”
“The people simply repudiated them,” Panelo said, referring to the opposition candidates.