WHAT do Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and his political rival, former Mayor Michael Rama, have in common? They are not PDP-Laban members -- yet.

Osmeña has had differences with Duterte's men, if not Duterte himself, over the transfer of the mayor's chosen police officials in the city and the region. Rama, on the other hand, was among the high public officials identified by Duterte as a drug coddler.

Both will most probably join the parade of politicians seeking entry to Duterte's camp eventually. But first Osmeña has to mend fences with whoever it was he banged heads with while Rama has to disprove Duterte's allegations and clear his name. Rama's task is more difficult because no case has been filed until now against him in connection with his being allegedly a drug protector.

Many, if not most, of those who converted to Duterte's cause did so for personal and political convenience. The claim about a plitician having to change parties to show full support for the president's programs is all b.s. because one can do that without necessarily having to wear his political colors.

Duterte is smart. He knows that the oath of allegiance by a political turncoat is not even worth the paper that it is written on. At the slightest hint of trouble, these recently recruited wily veterans will be the first to abandon him. They are not fooling him now no matter how solemn they try to look while reciting their pledge. He's just trying to humor them.

Same dogs, different collars. This is the reality now, the same one that Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago wrote about in her explanatory note to the bill seeking to penalize political turncoatism. "Most political parties in the Philippines are not composed of citizens advocating an ideology or platform or principles and policies for the general conduct of government," Santiago said.

"More often than not, traditional politicians who were not nominated by their original party for the position that they desire easily change political parties even if their new party espouses an opposite belief as compared to their original party."

She should have also added to her enumeration the traditional politicians who are nominated by, run and win under their original party but who switch political parties following their election because the grass is greener on the other side.

The practice weakens the political party system and results in confusion as to who are the genuine majority and who are the majority opposition party, Santiago added. Even if she made that observation decades ago, she could have been describing the current set-up in the House of Representatives where the majority and minority are engaged in an incestuous relationship.

Political turncoatism is an old practice (remember that Ferdinand Marcos was originally an LP member who defected to the NP after Diosdado Macapagal allegedly reneged on his promise not to run for reelection and support Marcos instead). But it became more pervasive after the ban on turncoatism was deleted in the 1987 Constitution.

Santiago was joined in her move to ban the political balimbings from public office by Sens. Edgardo Angara and Franklin Drilon. But the other senators were not persuaded, notably Serge Osmeña III. It's foolishness, Serge said of the proposed ban.

"Why are you preventing something that is not a crime?" The proposed law would force candidates to run as an independent, he warned.

The anti-balimbing bill never got anywhere and Serge remained independent. An acknowledged economist, he ran for re-election without a party in May and lost. Boxer Manny Pacquiao ran under Binay's UNA in the same election and won. The habitual House absentee was among the first, if not the first, to switch to the PDP-Laban.

(frankitherside@gmail.com)