Press Release
March 17, 2006

Drilon says Atienza, Defensor, et al. deemed resigned from Liberal Party

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon today announced the ouster of Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, former party chairman, and four other top LP officials from the party roll of members after they were "deemed resigned from the party" for holding a rump convention and election of officers at the Manila Hotel last March 2.

In a press conference during the Cavite LP Chapter Solidarity Rally held at the General Trias Convention Center Friday afternoon, Drilon said a resolution passed by the LP National Political Council had declared Atienza, Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor, Antique Gov. Sally Perez, Northern Samar Rep. Harlin Cast-Abayon and Batangas Gov. Armand Sanchez "deemed resigned from the Liberal Party for convening and holding the unauthorized assembly of LP leaders and the election of renegade officers on 2 March 2006 at the Manila Hotel."

Senate Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinan replaced Atienza as LP national chairman while Capiz Gov. Vic Bermejo replaced Perez as Vice President for the Visayas, Drilon said. Defensor, Abayon and Sanchez do not hold officers positions in the party.

"This is the best thing that ever happened to the Liberal Party," Drilon said. "Now, the entire Filipino nation can tell who among us joined the Liberal Party for political convenience and who joined for principles and conviction."

At the same time, Drilon lashed at President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her allies for attempting to steal the Liberal Party. "President Arroyo, who has yet to answer charges that she stole the last elections, is now trying to steal the Liberal Party," Drilon said.

"But more than just a name, the Liberal Party is a principled spirit that stands firmly against tyranny or when our democracy is threatened. Even if they try to steal our name, Atienza and the Malacañang puppets can never be considered true liberals," Drilon said, referring to Arroyos allies who tried to unseat him as party president. "Mice who try to project themselves as lions will eventually fail because they do not have the heart and cannot roar."

Drilon said Atienza and his group will never be accepted by the Filipinos as true liberals. "They are the extensions of a president who has illusions of legitimacy. They are weaving the illusion that they are the historic liberal party," he said. "Ninoy Aquino embodied the liberal spirit that fights tyranny. Atienza and his ilk can never be like Ninoy Aquino. Ninoy kicked the tryrants ass. They are there to lick it."

During the press conference, Drilon also announced minor changes in the LP list of officers. Tarlac Rep. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was elected the new LP Vice Chairman, taking the position vacated by Pangilinan. Sen. Mar Roxas was voted as LP Executive Vice President while Former Education Secretary Butch Abad was elevated to the post of Vice President for Platforms, Policies and Advocacies. Bukidnon Rep. Neric Acosta, erstwhile Executive VP, will now serve as Secretary General vice Aquino.

In a resolution signed by members of the LP National Political Council, Atienza, Defensor, Abayon, Perez and Sanchez were also declared "guilty of culpable violations of the LP Constitution by committing acts antagonistic and inimical to the party objectives and interest; dishonesty and abuse of authority by maliciously and deliberately planning and conspiring and organizing the rump session to unset the duly elected party officers."

By such overt acts, the resolution said, Atienza, Defensor, Abayon, Perez and Sanchez "have considered themselves deemed resigned from the party."

Drilon said other LP officials who participated in the rump convention organized by Atienza were undergoing further investigation to determine the extent of their participation in the illegal activity. "Its a continuing process," Drilon said. Among those who supported the move to oust Atienza and company from the party were three past LP presidents namely Abad, Northern Samar Gov. Raul Daza, former senator Wigberto Tanada.

LP Director General Chit Asis said Drilon has been getting overwhelming expressions of support from LP chapters in the provinces as well as from the partys allied organizations.

"We have been getting _expression of support from the LP chapters in Northern Luzon, Southen Luzon, Davao, the Caraga Region, Lanao del Norte, Iloilo City, Guimaras, and many more," Asis said.

He added that majority of the LP members in local government units such as Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, Cavite Gov. Ayong Maliksi, Iliolo Gov. Neil Tupaz, Capiz Gov. Vic Bermejo, Naga Mayor Jess Robredo and many others expressed their support for the leadership of Drilon.

Drilon also warned that Atienzas group was planning to hold another "rump meeting of the LP National Executive Council or the National Political Council" next week in an apparent effort "to legitimize the illegal Manila Hotel elections."

"Certainly, you cannot legitimize an illegal activity with another illegal activity," Drilon said.

Under the LP Constitution and By-Laws, Drilon pointed out, only the party president can convene a meeting of either the National Executive Council or the National Political Council. Besides, he added, Atienzas group composed only a small minority of both councils.

News Latest News Feed