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Sunday, February 25, 2024

The hollowing

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“Such is the state of Philippine politics – bankrupt of ideals, resistant to change other than the cosmetic”

The deputy secretary-general of the party for Mindanao, it’s original base and stronghold, said it all: “I believe, ang maiiwan na lang sa PDP, may mga apat o limang members na lang… (in) Congress.”

When the 19th Congress that elected Speaker Martin Romualdez in July of 2022 began, PDP-Laban had as many as 65 members. Now it is down to some 15 members in the HoR.

And Rep. Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur says there may only be 4 to 5 left in the following weeks or months.

Sic transit gloria mundi. Thus passes away all worldly glory.

As it was in Rome yesterday, more so in the Philippines today.

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And surely so in a country where loyalty is not to any party, not to any institution, but only to self-interest.

It happened even after Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was dethroned.

After Cory Aquino who adopted UNIDO during the snap elections started distancing herself from the party her vice-president, Salvador Laurel, laboriously built, everybody and his mother took their oath with the nascent LDP of Speaker Ramon Mitra Jr.

Six years later, Mitra lost the elections to Fidel V. Ramos, who broke away from the LDP to form Lakas-NUCD, beginning with just around seven members from the legislature.

In short shrift, everybody deserted LDP and moved to Lakas.

Erap who succeeded Ramos, thought his Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino, a coalition of the LDP, NPC and his PMP could stop the waves of disenchantment with his midnight proclivities and his sponsorship of “larong-lupa” (jueteng) from engulfing his popularity. It did not.

Then the same gaggle of politicians went back to Lakas, and for nine years it was the ruling party but for the break-away in 2005 due to ‘Hello Garci’ of the Aquino-led Liberal Party which coalesced with it in ousting Erap.

It was at this time that other big businessmen started forming their own parties, the Villar-purchased NP, the Razon-brokered National Unity Party (NUP), following the example of Danding Cojuangco’s NPC.

All of them, of course, were in alliance with Gloria, as they were with Erap before, as they would be with whoever sat in Malacanang.

When PNoy took over, Lakas was deserted once more, and the Liberal Party gave oath to the same politicos and their dynastic successors who left it after Jovito Salonga lost in 1992.

When someone from behind adopted the PDP from the Pimentels of Misamis Oriental as his standard in 2016 after much substitution drama, he had but a swarm of Davao-based politicos and a small pack of non-politicians from his fraternity and “fools” like this writer (my veteran politician-friends sneered at my ‘quixotic’ support of the Davao City mayor earlier) behind his presidential quest.

But triumph he did, and his speaker-designate, Pantaleon Alvarez Jr., started recruiting once more, the same shifty politicians into the PDP umbrella.

Then Ferdinand Marcos Jr. won in 2022 and succeeded the father of then Davao City Mayor Inday Sara without the then president’s blessings.

And after he named Martin Romualdez his chosen leader of the HoR, the shifting started, little by little.

Now, 17 months later, the hollowing of PDP is almost complete.

Various reasons have been given by those who deserted the PDP and transferred to either the Lakas-CMD or the now remembered Partido Federal, which for a year after BBM’s victory remained the silent victim of palace power plays.

Its secretary general, appointed Cabinet secretary by then President Rodrigo Duterte resigned from the party to save the political fortunes of his wife, whom he succeeded in getting elected congresswoman of Laguna while Duterte was yet in power.

Before that, the chair emeritus of the biggest political group, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former president at that, was demoted from her largely honorary perch to a lesser status, and recently, demolished to mere member of the HoR.

Take note: from KBL to UNIDO, to LDP, to Lakas, to LaMMP, to Lakas once more, to LP, to PDP, and now, a new “Uni-Team” of Lakas and Partido Federal.

That new ‘Uni-team’ will be the administration’s mixed colors for the 2025 mid-term elections.

And expect it to be joined in open coalition by the usual fence-sitters: NP, NPC and NUP.

And in ‘secret’ alliance with whoever are left in the LP and the Makabayan bloc, both of which share a common dislike, nay, hatred, of Duterte whose supporters, in turn, look at them as political lepers.

Then, after 2025, the waiting game begins for who will be the likely winner come 2028.

Such is the state of Philippine politics – bankrupt of ideals, resistant to change other than the cosmetic, perpetually under the stranglehold of the elites.

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