Robredo officially takes over helm of Liberal Party

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LP chair and VP Robredo, along with Sen. Pangilinan (front) and Sen. Drilon

Updated to include statements from Vice President Leni Robredo's speech.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 10) — Vice President Leni Robredo is now officially the chair of the Liberal Party (LP).

This after the party's national executive council ratified on Thursday the party chairmanship of Robredo, as well as the party presidency of Sen. Kiko Pangilinan. Former president Noynoy Aquino was also given the title of chairman emeritus.

The low-key ceremony was held at the U.P. University Hotel, which marked the first official gathering of the party since the May 2016 presidential election.

In a speech, Robredo called on LP members to rebuild the party and return to its roots.

"Siguro iyong araw na ito, tapos na iyong pahinga, 'di ba?" she said. "Parang nagpahinga tayo ng isang taon, pinagbigyan natin, transition. Pero ito, it's time to work. It's time to rebuild the party."

[Translation: I suppose the time to rest is over today. It's like we've rested for a whole year to give the new administration time to transition. But now, it's time to work.]

Robredo also called on her party mates to remain strong in the face of harsh criticism against the party, especially as many of its members have strongly opposed many of the Duterte administration's policies, such as its controversial war on drugs.

"'Pag inisip natin na gaano pa katagal, at inisip natin kung anong kahirapan iyong dinaanan, parang siguro panlulumo iyong nararamdaman," she said. "Pero 'pag binalikan natin iyong kasaysayan ng Liberal Party, parang we were made for these times."

[Transition: When we think of how many more years we will go through this, it feels like it's so depressing. But when we go back to the Liberal Party's history, it's like we were made for these times.

"Iyong shared aspirations natiniyong shared values, iyong shared dreams — iyon iyong pag-uumpisahan natin, iyon iyong magbibigay ng inspirasyon," she added.

[Transition: Our shared aspirations — shared values, shared dreams — our roots, those are what will serve as our inspiration.]

'Certainty of conviction'

Despite the fact that many partymates had already jumped ship to the administration party, Pangilinan said he chose to take up the LP presidency "not because of the certainty of victory, but because of the certainty of our conviction." From over 100 Liberal lawmakers and officials during the Aquino administration, the party now has less than 30 members.

Related: More LP lawmakers, local officials jump ship to admin party

He also enumerated his dreams and plans for the party and the country, including recruiting "new blood" from the academe, basic sectors, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs, the religious and faith-based sectors, arts and culture, and women.

"Sa krisis, sinasabi nila, nariyan din ang oportunidad. At narito tayo humaharap sa oportunidad na palakasin ang ating partido upang maging tunay na partido ng taumbayan," he said.

[Translation: In crisis lies opportunity. And we are now faced with the opportunity to strengthen our party to be a genuine representative of the people.]

Also present were senators Frank Drilon and Bam Aquino, and former LP presidents Mar Roxas, Butch Abad, and Wigberto Tanada.

Representatives Kit Belmonte, Nene Sato, Teddy Baguilat, Edcel Lagman, Raul Daza, Bolet Banal, and former House Speaker Sonny Belmonte were also with them.