THE biggest story in Cebu politics is today’s mass oath-taking by local politicians signifying their transfer to the administration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP)-Lakas ng Bayan (Laban). Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez are said to grace the occasion, which is supposedly the brainchild of Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino.
Actually, this shouldn’t be a big news considering that the politicians who are set to “balimbing” to PDP-Laban have themselves “balimbinged” to the parties that they are now deserting. Most of them were with the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo camp when she was president but transferred to Noynoy Aquino’s Liberal Party after he succeeded Arroyo. In this sense, the news would have been if they didn’t go “balimbing” at all.
This I would say is the weakness of our current political setup. The framers of the 1987 Constitution, in their eagerness to democratize the system, replaced the two-party system with one that is multi-party. Now every politician can either transfer easily form one political party to another or set up their own political party. Personalities and not party principles guide the multi-party system.
But there was a period after the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising when progressive politicians (no, that’s not an oxymoron; they did exist once) attempted to transform a political party into one that is principles-based and not personality-dominant. But even in those heady days, the effort failed. The name of the political party? If I remember it correctly, PDP-Laban, a merger of the PDP, founded by Koko’s father Aquilino Pimentel Jr, and Laban, founded by former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., father of Noynoy.
The older Pimentel can be considered a progressive (or principled) politician early in his political career. He was an activist (or human rights) lawyer decades before Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque claimed to be one. He was among the prominent personalities of the loose anti-Marcos movement that battled the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the late ‘70s when it was not yet a fashionable thing to do.
It was not surprising that when he set up the PDP and then led the PDP-Laban meger, other progressive politicians gravitated around him and his party. Again, if I remember it correctly, Nenita “Inday Nita” Cortes-Daluz was among the personalities in Cebu who joined the PDP-Laban. I often heard her talk in her radio program about the party’s recruitment rule, which was to have the new members undergo seminars that would ensure their adherence to the party’s principles. No other political party at that time had that rule.
But things changed drastically when traditional politicians (trapos) joined the party and began dominating it. The idea of having members take to heart and adhere to party principles soon got diluted and eventually was abandoned altogether. More so after PDP merged with Laban, the party founded by former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., Noynoy’s father.
I don’t think PDP-Laban leaders even know now the party’s illustrious past.