(Acceptance Speech of Rep. Edcel C. Lagman on his election as President of the Liberal Party of the Philippines at Club Filipino on 30 September 2022)
I am truly humbled and honored by your vote of confidence and trust. I pledge to lead the Liberal Party with principled activism.
With your much-needed cooperation, we shall relentlessly sustain and enhance the party’s enviable legacies of democratic liberalism, respect for the rule of law, protection of human rights, good governance and accountability, progressive taxation, campaign against despotism, and genuine people empowerment.
The Liberal Party’s name comes from the Latin word liberalis, meaning “suitable for or befitting a freeman” even as it also means “noble, gracious, generous”. Verily, we are free men and women who are committed to freedom and to liberate those who are oppressed and disadvantaged. We espouse a philosophy characterized by tolerance, fair-mindedness, honor, and justice.
We must take pride in the Liberal Party’s illustrious past. Icons in Philippine political history were principal navigators of the Party. It had produced four Presidents of the Republic – Manuel Roxas, Elpidio Quirino, Diosdado Macapagal, and Benigno Aquino III. President Ramon Magsaysay originally came from the LP.
Indeed, the political firmament of the Philippines is gilded with men and women from LP whose political stars shone bright as they contributed to the flourishing of democratic ideals and progressive principles.
More recently, we have Vice President Leni Robredo; Senator Frank Drilon; Senator Kiko Pangilinan, now our Chairman; Rep. Teddy Baguilat, now our Secretary General, Rep. Erin Tañada, now our Executive Vice President; Rep. Kit Belmonte, now our Vice Chairman; and Rep. Alfonso “Boy” Umali, now our Party Treasurer, among many others.
An illustrious past demands an illustrious present and deserves an illustrious future. This is the great challenge for all of us today.
We must bear in mind that also from the word liberalis comes the adjective liber used to describe one who is “free and independent” and is often contrasted with the Latin word servus meaning “slavish or servile”. Verily, members of the Liberal Party must not be cowed by fear of a dominant power or fettered by patronage. We must be freemen, insensitive to fear and immune to favor. We must be unafraid to manifest critical dissent. Subservience and surrender to the powers that be are unacceptable.
The times call for freemen. We must answer that call.
With the myriad challenges faced by the Liberal Party today, hiatus is not an option. In fact, now is the time to perpetuate the legacies of LP. We may be small in numbers now but we are far from insignificant. For what we lack in numbers we compensate with the unquestionable quality and excellence of our members.
We should strive to be even more relevant now that the present administration is led by the antithesis of democratic principles, integrity in public service, good governance and accountability – the very principles upon which the Liberal Party is anchored.
We look forward to the 2025 mid-term elections and beyond. Babalik tayo.
As your President, I am not ready to incant the requiem of the Liberal Party. I assume the presidency to lift up the Liberal Party from the ashes of the May 2022 elections.
To remain relevant and expand our ranks, we must unite and strengthen our crusade for sound, effective, and just governance and intensify our recruitment activities starting from the grassroots and concentrating on getting the support of like-minded political leaders. The Party must also be invigorated with young blood and we must also prioritize the enlistment of members from college campuses, barangay youth leaders and the ranks of young national officials.
We shall immerse with the masses of our people. We shall be partners in their aspiration for a better life. We shall be privy to their desperations. We shall be guardians of their inalienable rights. We shall champion the noble causes they have been struggling for. And we shall be the people’s party because we exist and endure for them.
We shall be at the forefront in fighting against oppression, repression, and tyranny.
We shall encourage and develop popular volunteerism. Volunteerism shall be central to our recruitment of new members. Where and when public institutions fall short, volunteerism fills in the gaps, contributes remarkably to capacity-building, and enhances a person or a group’s sense of agency. Volunteerism allows communities the opportunity to contribute to their own growth, ensures social inclusion, and encourages civic mindedness.
But the power of volunteerism does not stop there. It also raises awareness in others and has a ripple or contagion effect that inspires and motivates others to also volunteer, share their talents, extend a helping hand, pitch in whenever they can, and let their voices be heard, thus keeping volunteerism alive and effective.
We shall also seek and welcome the membership of kindred political leaders. We shall be open to alliances with groups and parties with the same ideals, convictions, and objectives.
We shall be resolute and determined.
If there is determination, there is hope; if there is hope, there is fulfillment; if there is fulfillment, we shall prevail; once we prevail, we shall endure; and when we endure, we become relevant; as we are relevant, we shall lead and be victorious once again. Tuloy Liberal!
Thank you, and Godspeed to one and all.