Our so-called political parties form and recede quickly like mushrooms in the political field.
We had the KBL for Marcos, LP for Ninoy Aquino, UNIDO for Laurel, Lakas-NUCD for Ramos, LABAN for Mitra, KAMPI for Arroyo, PMP for Erap, NPC for Cojuangco, Nacionalista for Laurel and later for Villar, UNA for Binay, and PDP for Pimentel.
These so-called political parties are no more than mere personifications of dominant politicians to whom they are closely identified. They are formed usually for the politician with presidential ambitions prior to a presidential election or during the tenure of said politician later sitting as president.
But our recent political history saw the emergence of a new kind of political dynamics that is a marked departure from traditional party politics. Recently, politics has resembled the popular basketball game played in far-flung barangays where players just group together into a team and then play against another team.
We saw this political phenomenon in the team of the senatorial candidates of GMA in the midterm elections during her presidency. In the last national elections, we saw this as well in the team of senatorial candidates of Grace Poe dubbed as “Galing at Talino.” Not satisfied with their Liberal Party, senatorial candidates of PNoy called themselves “Daang Matuwid” team.
Recently, we are regaled by what the national opposition is calling itself as the “Resistance” team. Not to be outdone, the pro-Duterte forces, led by Sara, boasted of their own team dubbed as “Tapang at Malasakit.” Even more, a Davao-based team led by Sara Duterte was formed and dubbed as a Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which is touted to be the current political party of President Duterte.
Meantime, the PDP of Pimentel recently has fallen from grace, dissipated and fragmented with the downfall of its key leaders, Koko Pimentel and Pantaleon Alvarez, from their mighty pedestals. This emerging team led by Sara Duterte has taken over the reins of power with the ascendancy of GMA as Speaker of the House, which could eventually lead to the consolidation of power in this team spearheaded by Sara and GMA.
Meantime, the national opposition has not yet come up with its own final team for the upcoming elections, although the “Resistance” is being touted as its team name. From the looks of it, this emerging team is being composed of the remaining core members of the Liberal Party which appears to be its dominant force led ostensibly by Leni Robredo.
It remains to be seen if this opposition team is prepared to be in coalition with the more disciplined and ideologically based groups and political parties aligned with the Left.
Our multi-party politics is weird, comical, and farcical. Once a president is elected, the politicians immediately, like in a bandwagon, switch political allegiance by joining his hitherto ragtag political party. It so happens that the president’s ramshackle political party is then transmogrified into a dominant political party. This may partly be attributed to the popular culture in basketball where players and fans, naturally, grovel to form part of the winning team.
FVR had a ragtag Lakas-NUCD which later reigned supreme. The LP also was almost extinct until PNoy, by happenstance, won. Recently, Duterte used a moribund PDP-Laban which later secured a legislative supermajority due to instant massive party defections mainly from PNoy’s LP.
Our political party system has been in an abject state of infantile stagnation. It has been slowly but forcefully eroded over time to the point that its replacement by the team patterned after the basketball team has emerged as a ridiculous fixture in our politics, which may be attributable to the mass appeal and fanatical popularity among Filipinos of the game of basketball.
Our political parties, if ever they can be called as such, are nothing but mere political brand names just like a commercial brand in an advertisement prominently displayed in ubiquitous billboards. They are a mere extension of the name and identity of the dominant politician for whose personal grand political, nay presidential, ambition they are being peddled.
Ideally, political parties are platforms for mobilization of public support for a political program for the acquisition of power, making them a critical component in a representative democracy. But a question must be asked. Do political parties really matter in our kind of democracy where even the politicians themselves roundly flout the very concept of political parties by forming teams instead as in a basketball game and worse like mushrooms which sprout just as quickly as it later recedes into oblivion?
It may be too cynical to point this out, but it can be said without fear of contradiction that our political culture, which is beguiled more by celebrity and star power than by platform, is downright incompatible with the so-called political party. As shown by modern phenomenon, political players, like in a basketball game, can just call out for teammates, form a team, and play against other teams.
Instead of registering and accrediting political parties, the Comelec can just require these teams to register as ad hoc groups and approve their team names like brands in commercial advertisements. After all, that is what politics is all about in our weird tradition, that is, the advertisement to win votes for a political brand name.
In the same vein, politicians can just run as independent candidates. Politicians need not resort to the political hypocrisy of running under a so-called political party which, after all, serves no residual political purpose. This could usher in a new electoral regime of independent candidacy. – Rappler.com
Jude Josue L. Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato. He filed a mass murder complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands, in May 2017.