Multi-party setup-A A +A
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
TALKS of a ‘Cha-cha’ or constitutional amendment that figured so much in the past have suddenly reemerged in the national scene. The present constitution was last ratified by the Filipino electorate in 1987, which ushered in the regime of Corazon C. Aquino.
The 1987 Constitution came about, it should be recalled, as reaction to what happened in the Martial Law years of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He abolished the two parties that existed before the war. The Philippines then was under a two-party rule.
The United States, where we copied the constitution, had the Republicans and the Democrats. The Philippines had Nacionalista and Democrata. But after World War II, the Democrata was not revived, and only the Nacionalista Party with Sergio Osmeña Sr. as head, remained. Don Sergio was then the country’s president, taking over from the late Manuel L. Quezon.
Coming up to challenge Osmeña for the presidency was Manuel A. Roxas. Rather than revive the Democrata, he formed the Liberal Wing of the Nacionalista Party. The rest is now part of Philippine history. The elections in 1945 saw the victory of Roxas since Don Sergio at the time was portrayed as old and sickly.
When Roxas assumed the presidency under the newly independent Philippines, he legitimized his Liberal wing into a separate Liberal Party. He became the first Liberal Party-affiliated president of the Philippines. He was the first of a number of LP presidents the last of which was Diosdado Macapagal.
It was then that the multi-party system came into the picture. It was noted that under a Philippine setting, the two party-system somehow weakened democracy in the country.
In fact, Ferdinand Marcos ascended to the presidency in 1965 defeating Diosdado Macapagal by secretly joining the Nacionalista Party and subverting Emmanuel Pelaez’s hold of the party to win the nomination.
A third party, the Progressive Party of the Phillippines (PPP), never had a chance. It was the disillusionment of the PPP leaders Manuel Manahan, Raul Manglapus, and later Emmanuel Pelaez that became the “roots” that nourished the seed of the multi-party system. The political principle behind the move was to further “democratize” elections by opening the opportunity of leadership to as many Filipinos as possible.
They were allowing them to organize political parties at will, from the grassroots to the top. This was embodied in the 1987 Constitution, the same constitution that we are seeking to amend and is the key to the various political parties now coalescing in various parts of the country. The LP, NPC, NP are merging, while the UNA, the NUP and others are waiting on the wins to make their own assurance to win in 2013. (To be continued)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 11, 2012.