Sunday, May 31, 2009

Political Parties and Political Interest in the Philippines

By Romy Teruel
Sunday Post Columnist

The marriage of  Lakas-CMD and Kampi political parties last week was described in many ways.  Some said it was a merger that ensures a political sweep for the party in the 2010 elections.  Others said it was a political suicide given the track record of the administration on issues like corruption. 

 The absence of key party leaders like former President Fidel Ramos, President Emeritus of Lakas-CMD, Congressman Luis Villafuerte, President of Kampi, Jose de Venecia, Lakas Founder, presidential hopefuls Bayani Fernando and Senator Richard Gordon was also viewed as cracks in the new political party.

 Ramos claimed many members were kept in the dark about the merger.  He said there was no consultation with the major stakeholders and the haste with which the merger was done signified a hidden agenda of some party leaders.

 On the other hand, former President Erap Estrada viewed the merger as a publicity stunt and will not have any negative effect on the opposition.

 While Bayani Fernando said he won't leave the party, he was disturbed that non-party members were being considered for the Presidential standard bearer like Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and Vice President Noli de Castro.

 By all measure a bigger party as a result of merger will always be strong notwithstanding issues among the members. Thus it cannot be denied that the merger is a looming typhoon set to swoop upon the opposition who are up to now as divided as ever as they have been.  Unless the different political parties of the opposition can gather their acts together and field just one Presidential candidate, they will have a problem wresting power from the present dispensation no matter how divided.

 The worst that can happen to the opposition is when Senators Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Ping Lacson, Manny Villar. Chiz Escudero and Jejomar Binay would all be running for President.  If they run for President, Erap said he would also run for President.  How will they fare against the lone standard bearer of Lakas-CMD-Kampi?

 What differentiates Filipino politicians with those of other countries like the United States is that Filipino politicians are politicians first and party members second.  That's how the multi-party system came about in the Philippines.

 Expect more political parties being organized when the Presidential hopefuls don't win their political party nomination.  Everybody will think he can do a Ramos and become President of the Philippines even without the support of his/her political party.  They think they know the Filipino voters very well.  Filipino voters don't consider political party platforms and philosophy.  They look for the popular and the moneyed candidates when voting for a candiddate.

 On the local level, it is not yet clear whether the merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi has helped Gov. Erico B. Aumentado on his Solomonic problem of who to anoint between Cong. Edgar Chatto and Vice Governor Julius Caesar Herrera as the Lakas-CMD-Kampi candidate for Governor in the next elections. Neither Edgar nor Julius has bolted the party. So they remain contenders for party nomination.

 What has helped the two perhaps is that whoever is rejected can always run in the opposition political party. After all the Presidential candidates will always be looking for their local candidates to run their campaign in the local level.

 This is proof that in the Philippines there are no real political parties, only political interests. And that's pathetic, to say the least. 

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