MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday lauded the resignation of opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as president of the Liberal Party after its eight Otso Diretso candidates failed to secure a spot in the “Magic 12” of the senatorial race during the May 13 midterm elections.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo praised Pangilinan, who acted as the opposition senatorial slate’s campaign manager, for holding himself accountable for the Otso Diretso’s defeat.
“That’s commendable. He accepts defeat,” said Panelo in a Palace briefing.
“As he says it, he is responsible for the loss of the senatorial candidates of the Liberal Party in the Otso Diretso,” he added.
Pangilinan said he will vacate the LP top post starting June 30. However, Vice President and LP chairperson, Leni Robredo, reportedly rejected Pangilinan’s resignation.
Members of the Otso Diretso’s senatorial slate are former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino, Gary Alejano, Samira Gutoc, Chel Diokno, Florin Hilbay, Romy Macalintal and Erin Tanada.
Panelo attributed Otso Diretso’s defeat to the Filipino electorate’s continued trust and confidence in President Rodrigo Duterte and the senatorial candidates he endorsed.
The eight Duterte-endorsed Senate bets currently at the Top 12 are reelectionist senators Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III; former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, and former Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino.
“Sa amin, kaya natalo sila dahil yung taong-bayan ay di naninwala sa kanila. Mas naniniwala kay Presidente Duterte (For us, the reason why they lost is because the people don’t believe in them but they believe in President Duterte),” Panelo said
Panelo emphasized the Otso Diretso candidates have repeatedly claimed that the outcome of the May 13 midterm elections would serve as a referendum on the Duterte administration.
“Kasi ang ginawa nila referendum daw kay Presidente. Yung ang banat nila e (What they’re doing is they keep saying the midterm elections is a referendum of the President. That’s their claim),” Panelo said.
He said their loss also meant that Filipinos have rejected the Otso Diretso’s efforts to criticize the Duterte administration.
“They didn’t raise the issue against the candidates endorsed by the President or Mayor Sara but they concentrated and focused on the performance of the President and the issues raised against him and the people simply repudiated them,” Panelo said.
He was referring to the President’s party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and his daughter, Sara’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
Earlier, Panelo said the expected victory of Duterte-backed senatorial candidates showed that Filipinos want the reforms started by his administration to continue.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is expected to announce the 12 winning senatorial candidates on Tuesday (May 21).