Editorial: Philippine political parties’ immature nature

·4 min read

Is PDP-Laban a cake left out in the rain? The ruling party is in a mess, to say the least, because of its unresolved leadership issue. The party has two factions—one wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and the other wing led by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

The party’s presidency is disputed between Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Cusi, while its chairmanship is disputed between President Rodrigo Duterte and Pimentel. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to resolve the ruling party’s conflict.

On Nov. 9, 2021, Pacquiao met with Duterte. The full details of what the two political figures discussed were not revealed. News outlets reported that it was only a meeting between “friends.” Pacquiao had been the subject of the President’s tirades after the boxing icon’s remarks about corruption in the government.

Pacquiao is gunning for the presidency under Promdi, not under PDP-Laban.

Duterte who had said that he would retire from politics after his term ends on June 30, 2022, filed via representatives his certificate of candidacy (COC) for a seat in the Senate under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS) party near the deadline of withdrawal and substitution of COCs on Monday, Nov. 15. The President substituted for Mona Lisa Visorde.

The Chief Executive is also supporting Sen. Bong Go, who withdrew his COC for vice president under the PDP-Laban Cusi wing and the neophyte lawmaker later filed a COC for president via substitution under PDDS.

Go’s move and Sen. Ronald dela Rosa’s withdrawal from the presidential race was seen to give way for the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, to run either for president or vice president with them. For her part, Duterte-Carpio, after denials of running for a national post, resigned from her regional party Hugpong Ng Pagbabago and took oath as member of Lakas-CMD, under which she filed a COC for vice president, also via substitution. The move of Davao City’s first female mayor reportedly disheartened her father.

Where is PDP-Laban in all these political manuevers of the administration? Refusing to fade, the PDP-Laban issued a statement. It said the party and the PDDS will be united in promoting Duterte, Go and their other candidates.

PDP-Laban noted Go’s “wealth of experience acquired from years of mentorship under President Duterte.” Go had been the President’s longtime aide before he was elected as senator in the 2019 midterm elections. The PDDS party supported him at the time.

Political party drama in the country is not a monopoly of PDP-Laban, officially the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan—a merger of two anti-Marcos parties PDP (founded by Pimentel’s father, the late Aquilino Jr., in Cebu City in 1982) and Laban (founded by the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1978).

Before the 1935 presidential elections, the Nacionalista Party had been split between the factions of Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmeña. The party held national conventions that resulted in the naming of Quezon as its candidate for president and Osmeña as its candidate for vice president. Had Osmeña not accepted the results, he could have left the party and formed a new one, and faced Quezon.

Then there was the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. He was a member of the Nacionalista Party’s Liberal wing, which eventually became the Liberal Party. Before the 1965 presidential elections, he left the Liberal Party after failing to get the party’s presidential nomination. He returned to the Nacionalista Party and ran as its candidate for president, which he won. He was reelected for a second term in 1969 and declared Martial Law in 1972, setting off an authoritarian rule that lasted for over a decade.

There were instances also that political overlords created their own parties over disagreements with their original parties.

The multi-party system in the country is immature as most of the parties do not practice their ideologies or walk their talk. A party’s ticket to stardom in the Philippine political arena could be a charismatic person who could have guiding principles or lack of it. A party could abandon its values just to accommodate a political rock star who has a wayward behavior.

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