On its 75th birthday, the Liberal Party debuted a younger-looking logo that will serve as its face to Gen Z and millennials online. It underscores the need to recruit young blood if it were to reclaim its leadership position in next year's elections, analysts said.
Its numbers nearly decimated since the last Liberal president, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III stepped down in 2016. Vice President Leni Robredo urged the LP to "persist" (tuloy lang) despite adversity.
“The attacks might continue, the threats might become even more formidable, but we must find strength in the fact that our every effort takes us a step closer to our vision: a society where there is freedom and justice, where everyone works together to champion the welfare of all,” said party chairperson Robredo, herself the target of trolling online.
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The new LP logo retained the touch of yellow. In the years since Aquino stepped down, pro-administration forces have shamed the opposition with the tag "dilawan," which translates roughly to yellow.
"Liberal Party needs to reacquire its leadership role in Philippine politics. It needs to develop new leaders and resources for coming political battles," Ramon Casiple, Executive Director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, told reportr.
One year before the 2022 presidential elections, the country still lacks a strong opposition, said Jean Encinas-Franco, a political science professor at UP Diliman.
"Coming off from their performance in 2019, they're still dancing with what the rules of the game compel them to do," Encinas Franco told reportr, referring to how the LP appeared to be positioning itself.
How the Liberal Party 'lost its touch'
Proof of the LP's much weakened position, all eight candidates of its Otso Diretso senatorial ticket in 2019 lost, including reelectionist Bam Aquino. This made the cousin of former President Noynoy Aquino the last in the family to hold a national position.
Bam Aquino won handily in 2013 on his first try, when his elder cousin was in power.
"It's not just because Duterte was so popular, it's also because the opposition was really struggling to rewrite itself, to come up with a better alternative to what Duterte is saying and doing," said Encinas-Franco.
Elections in the Philippines are popularity contests, said Encinas-Franco. Duterte won the 2016 elections by riding public clamor for change.
"Like any other political party, LP is still very much elitist. Their candidates are usually well-educated, represents the ideal Filipino family, and brand themselves as 'decent' candidates", she said.
In 2018, under the leadership of party President, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, LP said it opened its doors to "ordinary people". It currently boasts 10,000 new members in 100 new chapters, and still plans to recruit 75,000 more, as the 2022 elections loom.
"I think it's good that they opened their doors to ordinary people, but are these ordinary people going to help them win?" said Encinas-Franco.
Can the LP return to power?
The LP needs a wide political base for its comeback, said Casiple. It's removal from Malacanang also meant that it lost many of its allies who jumped ship to the ruling party.
"This phenomenon of political turncoatism has long been a problem in Philippine politics, and they should have anticipated it," said Encinas-Franco.
The challenge for the LP is grow support and regain popularity while staying true to its ideals, she said. It's "worrisome" that at the moment, it lacks potential presidential candidates aside from Robredo.
Robredo placed fourth in the last Pulse Asia survey that was led by the President's daughter and political heir, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio.
"If they don't do anything soon, my two cents is that lalong lalakas lang yung camp ni Duterte," she said.