DESPITE the insistence of the president’s spox that his boss would rather do his job of battling the Covid-19 pandemic instead of facing problems of a looming split in his political party, the public sees the opposite. At present, disorganization is the word to describe the PDP-Laban, presumably the major party of President Duterte’s coalition.
It shows that in more than a couple of months, the problems haunting the PDP-Laban metamorphosed into an impending political party collapse, even quicker than the mutation of the coronavirus Alpha variant into the Delta variant.
The vicious power struggle among top leaders of the ruling PDP-Laban should warn voters on who to vote for in 2022. Only recently, the public witnessed the exchange of allegations and accusations between Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi with the backing of Sen. Koko Pimentel and President Rodrigo Duterte, respectively.
The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP–Laban) that was founded in 1982 in Cebu City by Nene Pimentel Jr. and a group of activists against the government of Ferdinand Marcos, became the ruling party in 2016 when it took under its wing President Rodrigo Duterte when he decided at the last minute to join the presidential race and won. Later, he was designated as chairman of the party.
But while it is now the ruling party, it is in truth a mix of politicians belonging to other political parties, including those coming from the Liberal Party (LP) and even the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
PDP–Laban is the merger between the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino and Lakas ng Bayan. In 1983, PDP initially coalesced with the Lakas ng Bayan party founded in 1978 by former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Then in 1986, the two groups merged to form the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan or PDP–Laban.
The newly formed PDP–Laban alliance became the single biggest opposition group during that period to run against Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential election. Corazon Aquino, the widow of the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr., became the party’s nominee to run for President.
Later, PDP–Laban aligned with Salvador Laurel’s UNIDO. But after the EDSA Revolution of 1986, which led to an Aquino – Laurel proclamation as President and Vice President, respectively; UNIDO was dissolved.
Then before the 1988 local elections, PDP-Laban was criticized for its loose policy in accepting members of the KBL party which is largely composed of Marcos loyalists and sympathizers. This led to PDP–Laban split into two factions which were the Pimentel Wing and the Cojuangco Wing of Jose Cojuangco Jr.
Meanwhile, the Cojuangco Wing and the Lakas ng Bansa party of House Speaker Ramon Mitra, Jr. merged in 1988 to form the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino party (LDP).
The rest is history. Senator Koko Pimentel, the son, and namesake of the party founder Nene Pimentel Jr. was party president until he designated Senator Pacquiao in 2018 as acting president while he assumed the position of executive vice-chairman. Energy Secretary Cusi was vice-chairman.
Then an internal rift in the party started in early 2021 when Pacquiao criticized Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy regarding the South China Sea dispute.
PDP-Laban chairman Duterte chided Pacquiao’s criticisms and took offense to the senator’s statement that his administration was more corrupt than his predecessors’ terms. Pacquiao also came into conflict with PDP-Laban vice chairman Cusi.
On July 9, 2021; the Pimentel-Pacquiao faction expelled vice-chairman Cusi, allegedly for violating provisions of the party’s constitution by showing allegiance to a political party apart from PDP-Laban. President Duterte refused to recognize the expulsion of vice-chairman Cusi.
A week later on July 17 in Clark, Pampanga, the rift took a new turn when Pacquiao was ousted as acting president while Cusi was elected in his place during the party’s national assembly, attended mostly by the Duterte-Cusi faction.
Certainly, the Pacquiao-Pimentel faction will organize its national assembly next month as it claimed that the “national assembly and election of the new PDP-Laban officers were unauthorized” under the party’s by-laws.
I see this early free-for-all as posturing for the 2022 elections. For the president, and as a seasoned politician, he knows that in his last year in office, he is considered a lame-duck president that is why he had to announce that he would run for vice president in May 2022.
This reminds me of my professor in Political Science who said that the 1987 Philippine Constitution is the lousiest that was written by the framers who think they are the best and oppose all proposed amendments.
He said the framers should have written in the Constitution that “outgoing presidents cannot run for the position of vice president,” saying further that what is not prohibited by the Constitution is allowed.
The framers should have also maintained the four-year term and one reelection for all political positions to allow politicians to stay in public office if they are performing well or get rid of corrupt elected officials by not reelecting them.
President Duterte was accused of liability over the occupation of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese, and also faces an investigation by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity over the killing of thousands of victims of his war on drugs.
But Sen. Pacquiao has income tax issues to settle, too. His anti-corruption posturing cannot make the public forget his wrongdoing. Same thing with former Sen. Trillanes who is facing several criminal cases.
The cheapest way for Trillanes and Pacquiao, both of whom might run for president, is to have their names recalled by the electorate by accusing their rivals without having to file cases in court as people will be hearing the allegations while election fever is in the air.
All statements by politicians, not only Duterte and Pacquiao, expose the genuine intentions in running for public office. Many, if not all of them seek public office for personal reasons.
The public can expect more drama as the filing of certificates of candidacy nears. But what the country needs are politicians who would not get elected just to escape liabilities.