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Palace commends Pangilinan for quitting LP presidency over opposition’s defeat in polls

Malacañang on Tuesday commended Senator Francis Pangilinan’s decision to resign as president of the Liberal Party after the opposition Otso Diretso’s crushing defeat in the 2019 midterm elections.

“That’s commendable. He accepts defeat,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference.

Pangilinan and LP secretary general and Quezon City Representative Kit Belmonte resigned as they took responsibility for the complete shutout of the eight-member opposition slate in the May 13 elections where 12 seats were up for grabs.

But Vice President Leni Robredo, who serves as LP chairperson, rejected the resignations of Pangilinan and Belmonte.

“Much work remains to be done, and they will do it together," lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, said in a statement.

When asked if the latest development in the LP bodes well for the former ruling party, Panelo said: “Let LP speak for itself. We will watch in amusement.”

Panelo said the opposition candidates made the President, who was not on the ballot, an issue in the elections when they should have focused on differentiating themselves from their administration-backed rivals.

“Kaya natalo sila dahil 'yung taumbayan ay hindi naniwala sa kanila. Mas naniwala kay Presidente Duterte. Kasi ang ginawa nila referendum daw kay Presidente Duterte. 'Yun ang banat nila eh,” he said.

“They didn’t raise the issue against the candidates endorsed by the President or Mayor Sara [Duterte]. They concentrated and focused on the performance of the President and the issues raised against him. And the people simply repudiated them.”

Panelo earlier attributed to Duterte’s endorsement power the victory of nine of the 12 preferred senatorial candidates of the President.

The Palace spokesman said the "overwhelming majority" of the electorate had responded to the hugely popular President's call to support those whom he said would help pass laws supportive of his goal "to uplift the masses of our people and give them comfortable lives they richly deserve."

Panelo said the voters rejected the negative propaganda unleashed by the opposition against the President and his administration such as extrajudicial killings, the drug war and the South China Sea dispute. —KG/BM, GMA News