Partido Liberal on Saturday (July 7) welcomed 71 new Kapampangan members, who pledged to grow the party in number and in its values of freedom, social justice, and solidarity.

For the past eight months, Partido Liberal has opened its arms to like-minded individuals, mostly “non-politicians,” willing to undertake the daunting role of an opposition party — a party vilified every day on social media.

The goal to become a people’s party kick-started many oath-takings nationwide, with the latest taking place in Santo Tomas, Pampanga; various civil society organizations, including women’s groups, church associations, and farmer unions took part. Among them were San Felipe Farmers’ Association, Sanduguan Farmers’ Association, Palay Check Farmers, and Fernandina Women’s Federation Inc.

Batch representative lawyer Jun Canlas, when asked about his reasons for joining the party, said: “Ang nag-udyok sa akin para sumali sa partido ay dahil nakikita kong isa itong partido na naniniwala sa people empowerment. Hindi lang propaganda at puro salita. May kakayahang patatagin ang mga nasasakupan (What pushed me to join the Party is because I saw a party that truly believes in people empowerment. It’s not just propaganda and all talk. It can really strengthen its members).”

Canlas noted how the present administration has been divisive, particularly along class lines. Citing the government’s recent anti-tambay drive, he said no rich person has been arrested for loitering, while shirtless ordinary folk drinking coffee in sari-sari stores have been rounded up.

Reland Francisco, a pastor and civil society organizer, commended the party’s efforts to redefine itself with its “Bago. Bukas. Liberal.” campaign.

Ngayon, in-open ang membership sa lahat ng mamamayang Pilipino. Maganda ito dahil hindi lang po panig ng political leaders ang pinapakinggan, pero pati mismo ang boses ng bayan (Now, they opened the party membership to all Filipinos which is good because we don’t only listen to political leaders, but to the masses as well),” he said.

Francisco explained that this not only strengthens the party, but also creates awareness of the national political and economic situation and encourages participation at the grassroots.

Long-time member Ric Serrano agreed, noting the autocratic tendencies of the present government and a similarity to the national mood before the dictator Marcos declared martial law.

Isang bagong liberal, malakas na partido ng mamamayan. Ang pagpapalakas sa sarili bilang grupo o bilang organisasyon, paghahanda na yan. Ibig sabihin, nag-o-organisa tayo, pero nagmumulat din tayo. Sa pamamagitan noon, lumalawak tayo, nag-o-organisa tayo at naipapakita natin sa pamamagitan ng awareness campaigns natin kung ano’ng direksyon ng gobyerno, ng ating lipunan, na kinakailangang maging handa tayo,” he said.

(“A new liberal, a strong people’s party. Strengthening ourselves as a group or as an organization is a preparation. This means we organize, but we also make people aware. With this, we grow, we organize, and we make people see through ourawareness campaigns where the government and our society are headed, and that we should be prepared.”)

Party president Sen. Kiko Pangilinan closed the ceremony with an inspiring message to the new party members.

Binabago po natin ang hugis at ang anyo ng Partido Liberal, dahil tayo po ay naniniwala na sa ating mga mamamayan na mas marami, sa kanya manggagaling ang talagang lakas ng isang organisasyon,” he said.

(“We are changing the shape and the composition of Partido Liberal, because we believe that citizens in bigger numbers are the true strength of an organization.”)

Over 1,000 people are expected to attend the next oath-taking in Cavite on July 20. Other such events are scheduled in Cagayan De Oro, Naga, Bulacan, and across Metro Manila in the coming months.