By Raymund Antonio
The opposition Liberal Party, chaired by Vice President Leni Robredo, officially announced on Tuesday its initial three senatorial candidates, who will run for next year’s midterm elections.
The LP named re-electionist Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, and former Quezon Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, who will form its senatorial ticket for the 2019 polls.
The scions of the opposition leaders during the Martial Law regime were nominated in a resolution approved during the party’s National Executive Council meeting held in Quezon City.
Diokno, son of former Senator Jose “Pepe” Diokno, is the founding dean of the De La Salle University (DLSU) College of Law and chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
Tañada, who is the grandson of former Senator Lorenzo Tañada Sr., is the LP vice president for external affairs while Aquino, a nephew of late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., is an incumbent senator.
In her speech, the Vice President backed the senatorial bids of the first three LP candidates and endorsed them for next year’s elections.
Robredo said these senatorial bets bring more than just their family names.
“Madalas makita natin pami-pamilya sa pulitika, pero iyung ating inihaharap sa inyo ngayon, hindi ito pareho ng iba,” she said.
(We always see political families, but those we presented today are different from the others.)
“Hindi nila minana ang posisyon. Ang tanging minana nila ay iyong magandang pangalan na naiwan ng mga nauna sa kanila. Pero ang tinatayuan nila, galing sa kanilang sariling pawis at dugo, matagal na rin lumalaban,” the Vice President said.
(They did not inherit their position. The only thing they inherited were the good names of the people who came before them. But what they stand for really came from their own sweat and blood, they have been long fighting.)
The party’s NECO will nominate other candidates soon.
Apart from the three senatorial hopefuls, Robredo also named ex-Bangsamoro Transition Committee member Samira Gutoc as another possible Senate bet for the opposition.
Robredo said they will announce the final senatorial slate of the opposition on October 8 ahead of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2019 national and local elections.
At the NECO meeting, the LP’s three senatorial candidates spoke before the other party members and their supporters.
“Panahon na para dalhin ko ang laban sa ibang arena. Panahon na para gawing bahagi ng pambansang agenda ang hustisya,” Diokno said.
(It’s about time to bring the fight to other arena. It’s time to make justice as part of the national agenda.)
“Hindi ko tinitingnan ang pansariling interes o kung saan gagaan ang laban ko. Miyembro ako ng Partido Liberal mula 1992 at bilang isang Tañada, ikinagagalak kong mapabilang sa hanay nito,” Erin said.
(I don’t look at personal interest or on where my fight will be easy. I’m a member of the Liberal Party since 1992 and as a Tañada I’m glad to be part of it.)
Meanwhile, former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III also welcomed the first three members.
He has related the joining of the three candidates to their descendants who fight for the country’s freedom during martial law.
“For me, the significance of this is when when you look at the martial law years, when there will be water cannons and throwing of tear gas, we always saw there Erin’s grandfather and Ka Pepe Diokno,” Aquino said.
He said that these Liberal Party candidates are following the legacy of their elders who are known “iconic figures” during martial law.
“They [elders] were already on the top but they are also at the front of the picket line catching water cannons and tear gas, while their sons and grandsons were behind them and supporting the fight for freedom,” Aquino said in Filipino during an interview after the meeting.
When asked about the condition of the nation today, the former president said he could only answer that it was the opposite picture of what he had left when his term ended in 2016.
“Baligtad nung panahon ko, iyon lang (It’s the opposite of my term, that’s it),” the former chief executive said in his speech.
He added that the inclusion of the scions of the martial law freedom fighters in the campaign of the Liberal Party is not really aiming to revive again the issue of the dark days of dictatorial rule under former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. but to avoid bringing back the martial law in the current days. (with reports from Alexandria Dennise San Juan)