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Party dynamics


“PDP-LABAN will be soon gone. You see, at least 50 percent of the PDP-Laban members in the House chose Arroyo to be Speaker. What does it say about strength or lack of it by PDP-Laban — a party wherein Alvarez serves as the secretary general?”

Not so much a profound prognostication as a foregone conclusion is the statement of a party insider – quoted in the media – on the impending abandonment of the political party of choice for the past two years by its once chestthumping loyal members.

So, what remains to hang onto a party that in the short shrift of 64 days lost the Senate presidency and the House speakership?

So, what else is new?

Balimbingan, it is called in the local parlance. It permeates all political hues, notwithstanding the bright yellow color of the allegorized multisided sour fruit.

The game of musical chairs, or the dance of changing partners, transposed to politics. So, it is euphemized.

Butterflies flitting from one flower to the other, seeking the sweetest nectar. So, politicos engaged in it are metaphored. And, put in simile, like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

It cannot get any plainer than this: political opportunism – the very rule of thumb in the Philippine political praxis.

So, has the time come to sing the swan song for PDP-Laban? And raise the first hurrah for Sarah Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago?

I think not. As I thought nearly six years ago, under different circumstances that came to the same head as now – a political party pronounced dead. Here’s Zona Libre, September 7, 2012 under the headline:

Premature obituary

KAMPI NOW dead. Even Lakas is dying.

So was quoted Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan as saying in a story here yesterday.

Can’t argue with EdPam. He knows whereof he speaks, being – as the story noted – a stalwart of the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, founder of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino in 1996 and its prime reviver and beneficiary in the 2004 national elections.

Indeed, with GMA a veritable pariah in the current administration of President Aquino, only the trapped rats have not abandoned her sunk Kampi ship.

Still, I guess the good city mayor may have made an advanced, and therefore premature, obituary for Kampi and Lakas there.

The fate of Kampi underscores the failings, aye the aberrations, of the party system as practiced in the Philippines.

Rather than grounded on ideologies or philosophies, policies or programs, the Filipino party system is popularity- and personalitybased. Hence parties rise or fall with their human embodiment.

Thus, with the Great Ferdinand, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

With Marcos’ New Society supplanting the old socio-economic and political order, the KBL devoured the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party, effectively ending the Americanpatterned two-party system and birthed the invincible, formidable monolith that in 1978 managed to elect the octogenarian Pablo Floro over the charismatic and then prisoner-ofconscience Ninoy Aquino.

EDSA Uno shattered all of Marcos, his beloved KBL reduced, nay, restored to its sacramental reference of kasal, binyag, libing – the life cycle of the nominal Catholic – not totally devoid of political bearing though with weddings, baptisms and wakes serving as fertile grounds for electioneering.

On the wings of the widow in yellow rode Doy Laurel’s United Nationalist Democratic Organization and the Laban ni Ninoy, morphing into the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

In Cory Aquino’s radiance wilted Laurel and his UNIDO, leaving LDP as dominant party, with renascent power broker presidential brother Peping Cojuangco at its helm, and Ninoy buddy Ramon Mitra, voted House Speaker.

With Cory’s acquiescence came the great schism of the LDP – Mitra winning as party presidential bet in the convention, but defeated rival Fidel V. Ramos, forming a ragtag aggrupation called Lakas-Tao, winning the 1992 elections.

Lak-Tao underwent a series of evolution in the Lakas-NUCD (for the National Union of Christian Democrats of Sen. Raul Manglapus) then Lakas-CMD (Christian-Muslim Democrats) till fi nally coalescing to Lakas-CMD-Kampi, the appendage being GMA’s Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino.

Lakas-CMD-Kampi assumed, for the 2004 presidential elections, the moniker Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan para sa Kinabukasan (Coalition of Truth and Experience for Tomorrow), shortened to K-4, that provided the stage for GMA’s elevation to the presidency through the ballot, more (in)appropriately – many folk contend – through “Hello, Garci.”

The 2010 presidential elections saw the renaissance of the grand old parties – the NP with Manny Villar and the LP with Noynoy Aquino, the comeback of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino of ousted President Erap Estrada, the birthing of new parties Bagumbayan spearheaded by Sen. Dick Gordon, Ang Kapatiran of Olongapo City Councilor Juan Carlos de los Reyes, and Bangon Pilipinas of evangelist Eddie Villanueva. And of course, the trouncing of then-ruling Lakas-CMD-Kampi.

LP emerging victorious shoved to the sidelines NP and PMP and altogether doomed to early extinction the other wannabes.

Yes, parties rise and fall with the fortunes of their human faces.

Thus, Aksyon Demokratiko of Raul Roco, People’s Reform Party of Miriam Defensor Santiago, Promdi of Lito Osmena.

Not all political parties however can just be summarily dismissed as OPD – officially pronounced dead, just because the figurehead falls.

Look at the Nationalist People’s Coalition – losing with Danding Cojuangco in 1992, and falling short of getting Malacanang with FPJ in 2004. Those failings notwithstanding, the NPC remains a much-sought-after coalition partner of every ruling party.

Look at the PDP-Laban – losing with Nene Pimentel in 1992 – flexing its muscles anew in Vice President Jojo Binay, no matter the fall-out in the United Nationalist Opposition wrought by Sen. Koko Pimentel’s obstinacy vis-à-vis Miguel Zubiri in the same coalition. (Lest we forget in the swirl of recent events, it was the paltry PDP-Laban that Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte mounted in his drive to Malacanang in 2016).

Look at the KBL – Bongbong Marcos in the Senate, Madame Imelda Marcos in the House, Imee Marcos in Ilocos Norte.

As in the Origin of the Human Species, it is not the strongest that always survives, but that who can best adapt to the environment, blend with the situation. So, it is with political parties, being, after all, originated by humans.

Hence, for the issue at hand, we may as well appropriate Mark Twain: The reports of the death of Kampi and Lakas are greatly exaggerated. If not all too premature…

THUS, CAME to pass the renascence of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to new heights of political power only last Monday.

On Thursday, House Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya announced that some congressmen from PDP-Laban are jumping ship to Lakas-CMD, GMA’s very own party before she switched to PDP-Laban only last October 2017. Andaya furthered that Lakas-CMD may possibly merge with Hugpong ng Pagbabago, with the President and the Speaker leading the coalition.

So goes on full spiral anew, the dynamics of political parties.

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