[OPINION] Party poopers 1

[OPINION] Party poopers

Dean Dela Paz

Posted at Dec 15 2021 01:02 AM

(Disclaimer: The opinion expressed here is the author's and does not necessarily reflect the position of ABS-CBN Corp.)

The absence of true and legitimate political parties other than token outliers such as Ang Kapatiran and the remnants of the Nacionalista and Liberal parties has been a matter of debate and perhaps a continuing curse on Philippine politics. Where a party is defined as having distinct ideological foundations such as the difference between Conservatives and Liberals, or the Tories and Labor, while the variances do not necessarily imply diametric opposites, there is a degree of exclusivity inherent in their membership.

Ang Kapatiran advocates strict adherence to Catholic Papal doctrine, edicts, and beliefs. It is not just faith-based or Christian but exclusively Roman Catholic. One wonders if the party whose official nomenclature is ‘’Alliance for the Common Good’’ would consider a Muslim or even a Christadelphian candidate inside the parameters of ‘’common’’.

As for the remains of the Nacionalista and Liberal parties, the difference now lies between members who support the kind of autocracy Rodrigo Duterte seeks to perpetuate as opposed to its polar opposite. In that sense, these fuzzy differences may be thought of as ideological. 

Winnow the chaff. As the Duterte surrogates exit the main stage, the lights turn back on the basic difference between darkness and light with the real choice now consolidating between an apparent survey frontrunner who conjures the darkest days when evil reigned now pitted against the brightest tomorrows we can hope for represented by Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

The foregoing assumes that good versus evil is an ideological distinction. But is morality an ideology? Analyzing what these parties advocate against what exists now or is slowly resurrecting from a buried and rotted casket given the frontrunning candidacies confronting us, it is easy to see where profound ideological differences ultimately matter albeit hidden within the bowels of personality-based coalitions. 

2022 is a morality play. Good versus evil. It is an equation that should really require little voter education save for advocating for facts and truth against those who cavalierly and quite consistently lie. Unfortunately, politicians have this uncanny ability to distort those distinctions. The absurd political promise of redistributing plundered treasures is a case in point where it is foisted as a platform.

For one thing, a true Philippine party system never existed. What we started with and stubbornly continue is a collection of factions whether bi-factional in 1907, or the plethora of convoluted coalitions that infest us today. 

Our history founds our curse and the continuing immaturity of our politics. From the Spanish to the American era the transition rode on the political influence of moneyed families and their power to determine who the community leaders might be. Patronage and family names were ever-present in the seminal DNA. 

The seed in 1907 was the Nacionalista Party that espoused conservatism. A faction broke off. The Liberal Party was born. The cellular mitosis created the two-party system until coalitions among smaller factions coagulated. 

To understand personality-based factionalism, analyze the comedic cavalcade of crass clown acts played out at the PDP-Laban and the Aksyon Demokratiko parties . Venom, vitriol, and rank infighting in one, hemorrhaging in another. See how both, populated with party poopers, gate-crashed legitimate ideologically founded parties. 

We have forgotten the seminal ideals and principles espoused by contemporary heroic founders Benigno Aquino Jr., Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Raul Roco. Where their parties were once vehicles for true democracy, these are now virtual clown cars, hijacked and driven over a cliff by visionless factions that mock democracy. 

Factionalism is one of the reasons that force the electorate into personality politics albeit it is uncertain whether it is the absence of ideology that catalyzes its degradation or the over-emphasis on populism that ensures ideology-based systems will not work. The philosophical grundfragen is whether we have ideologically distinctive political parties or just hollow personality-based factions of the most ambitious? 

The criminal minds of political operators pirated legitimate political parties and, clutching the tiller and rudder of floundering skiffs, enabled dark forces that not only plundered but destroyed our democracy.

In Leni Robredo we have the profound melding of personality and platform where a truly good and decent person espouses a good and decent model of the democracy we lost. In that, Leni is a rarity albeit threatened still by ancient arsenic that runs through our traditional political veins almost as integral as demonic DNA.

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(Dean dela Paz is a former investment banker and a managing director of a New Jersey-based power company operating in the Philippines. He is the chairman of the board of a renewable energy company and is a retired Business Policy, Finance and Mathematics professor.)

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.