But let’s stop to think if we can change our politics
By Raïssa Robles
The silly season has long begun. I am referring to the period when politicians put up political parties, form coalitions and float names of national candidates.
By force of habit, I am still tempted to do that.
For instance, Senator Manny Villar has confirmed to me in a chance interview that he is “retiring” from politics. What he did not confirm is the buzz in the political grapevine that his wife Cynthia is being groomed to take his place. And she is being wooed by both the group of Vice-President Jejomar Binay and the Liberal Party. What the Villar couple is doing by straddling two parties is the way many of our politicians like it.
But really, now. Let’s stop to think what all these mean for us and for our country’s future.
As a general rule and except for the post of President, the Filipino voter has never expected much from those they vote into office.
Our politicians have it easy. They can expect to stay on and on and on in office unless they make a colossal mistake such as NOT opening an envelope during an impeachment trial or having part of city hall burn down during their watch or being caught stealing or killing (and even then…).
It’s time voters start demanding more from politicians running for public office.
For starters, let’s demand more from political parties
What does a particular political party stand for and how does putting its candidates in power help the city, town, province and ultimately, the country?
For instance, I have always wondered ever since I first covered a convention of the Liberal Party – what is so liberal about the Liberal Party? I looked at its party platform by clicking here and it all consisted of motherhood statements.
I also looked for what PDP-Laban stands for and I got nothing.
In its spanking new website is a picture of boxing icon-congressman Manny Pacquiao, who recently joined PDP-Laban (see photo above). Wait a minute, didn’t he run and win under the Liberal Party in the last 2010 election? And under the Nacionalista Party before that? And with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Lakas-Kampi Party before that?
Reforming the country’s political system starts with reshaping the behavior of Filipino politicians. Let’s start with two behaviors:
♦ Say “No” to political promiscuity.
♦ Ask political parties, senatorial and local candidates to list what political principles they represent and what they intend to do once they get into power BEFORE they get into power.
Our parties split & grow like amoeba
Just for the fun of it, I decided to try to trace the major political parties that had sprung up since 1986.
When you read the list, please ask yourself the following questions:
- Whatever did these parties stand for, really?
- How have these parties improved the lot of the poverty-stricken majority?
- How can parties be more inclusive, engaged with the people and not remain games that our political elite play?
You will notice that political parties in the Philippines never break up over questions of policy or principle, but simply due to the personalities involved.
UNIDO (United Nationalist Democratic Organization)was led by Salvador Laurel. It allied with PDP-Laban after its senior leaders persuaded Laurel to shelve his presidential ambition and run alongside Corazon Aquino in 1986. Unido died with Laurel.
PDP-Laban – started as a coalition of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino of then Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Laban (Lakas ng Bayan) of then former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in the 1980s. It fielded Corazon Aquino for president in 1986.
Liberal Party – fielded Jovito Salonga for president in 1992. He lost. Fielded Senator Benigno Aquino III in 2010. He won.
Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) – businessman Eduardo Cojuangco formed NPC in order to run in the 1992 presidential elections. He lost. He kept it on anyway because it proved to be a useful tool to protect his business interests.
LDP – Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino – was born out of a 1988 split in PDP-Laban between the Pimentel faction and the Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. faction. It fielded Ramon Mitra Jr. as presidential candidate in 1992. Mitra lost. In 1998, it fielded Edgardo Angara as Joseph Estrada’s vice-presidential running mate. Angara lost.
Partido Lakas ng Tao – Because LDP chose Mitra to be its presidential candidate iin 1992, Fidel Ramos bolted from LDP to form this party and run for president against Mitra in 1992. Ramos won.
Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) – Joseph Estrada used this to run for vice-president in 1992. He won.
LAMMP – In 1998, Estrada’s PMP allied with Angara’s LDP to form LAMMP (Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino). Estrada won but Angara lost.
Lakas-Kampi – In 1998, Lakas fielded Jose de Venecia for president. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Vicente Sotto III both bolted LDP to form Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino). Lakas allied with Kampi.
Kampi – Mrs. Arroyo and Sotto (now a senator) formed Kampi in order to run for president and VP, respectively, in 1998. But the partnership was short-lived. Sotto’s involvement with an arrested drug lord surfaced and Arroyo slid down to be De Venecia’s running mate.
Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) – was formed from a core of LDP to back the candidacy of Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004. LDP, however, split up on this. One faction supported Poe while the other faction backed the presidential bid of Panfilo Lacson.
Nacionalista Party – When Senator Manuel Villar bought the late Vice-President Salvador Laurel’s house, he negotiated the acquisition of the Nacionalista Party brand, too, from Laurel (The Unido had disintegrated and Laurel decided to simply revive the pre-Martial Law Nacionalista Party). Villar used the Nacionalist Party to be his campaign vehicle in 2010. He lost.
UNO – United Opposition – is the alliance of Binay’s PDP-Laban and Estrada’s PMP for the 2010 elections. Estrada lost but Binay won.
UNA – Early this year, Binay renamed UNO into UNA as the vehicle for the 2013 midterm elections. And possibly his 2016 presidential run.