Press Release
July 13, 2006

Let Comelec settle LP leadership row, Drilon camp appeals to critics

The Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP) under party head, Senate President Franklin Drilon, today appealed to critics to let the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decide on the current legal question of the LP leadership and not allow the matter to deteriorate into a "dirty propaganda war in media."

LP Executive Council member Chito Gascon, Drilon's spokesman on party matters, said the Drilon camp was leaving it to the Comelec to decide on its petition questioning the legality of the March 2 rump session conducted by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor to supposedly replace the current party leaders headed by Drilon.

"We would prefer to let the legal process take its course and leave it to the Comelec to settle on the LP leadership case. We are confident that an impartial scrutiny of the LP constitution and recent party events would uphold Drilon as the legitimate LP president," Gascon said.

Gascon said Drilon has consistently refused to answer the media attacks being waged by former LP Director General Eli Quinto, a long-time associate of Atienza, and urged media to see through Quinto's personal motives.

"Mr. Quinto has an axe to grind against Drilon," Gascon said. "He was ultimately dismissed by Drilon as LP director general because of his inability to competently handle the affairs of the party during the last elections. It was unfortunate that Mr. Quinto was unable to cope with the sudden expansion of the party when Drilon assumed the LP presidency."

Gascon was one of Drilon's lawyers who filed a petition before the Comelec last March 5 seeking to stop Atienza, Defensor, and their pro-Malacañang allies from misrepresenting themselves as the new officers of the LP because the rump elections they held at the Manila Hotel last March 2, were illegal, illegitimate and violated party rules.

"The penchant of Mr. Quinto to win publicity for himself in the tabloids at the expense of Drilon and the other LP leaders can be unnerving," Gascon said. "But engaging in a dirty propaganda war for an internal matter such as this will not help the party in any way. I am certain LP members who still care for the party and its future in Philippine politics will agree with me."

In the petition, Gascon and LP counsel Wilfred Asis asked the Comelec to stop Atienza's group from performing their "duties and functions" as party officers, noting that Drilon continues to exercise control over the LP headquarters and all provincial and city chapters despite the failed attempt by Malacañang to take over the 60-year-old political party.

Last Month, Drilon hosted a meeting of over 100 international Liberal Party leaders during a joint meeting of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD)-Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)-Liberal International (LI) Meeting in Manila, Cavite and Tagaytay.

The visiting liberals included 30 Members of Parliament and Senators, five incumbent ministers and a number of national and local officials from at least 30 countries. CALD, the regional grouping of liberal democrats in Asia, recognized Drilon as LP president in a resolution approved last April 26.

Last Monday, Senator Mar Roxas and Rodolfo Biazon joined former LP Presidents Butch Abad, Wigberto Taada and Raul Daza in declaring that Drilon was the legitimate president of the LP.

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