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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Lagman’s politics of opportunism

“It’s either that or the elder Lagman is surreptitiously betting on both the administration and opposition camps, which is Lagman’s politics of opportunism”

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman seems to be the current, and perhaps the only available, talking head of the moribund and unpopular Liberal Party, which likes to label itself as the dominant opposition party.

The LP may be a political opposition party, but it is not dominant.

This spent political party is a ghost of its previous, abusive and corrupt self during the presidency of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and Lagman is its occasional political apparition.

Lagman was with the opposition during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte (2016-2019). During those years, Lagman made many sweeping, erroneous observations about the political situation.

An example was in 2020, when the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation expired. ABS-CBN expectedly applied for a new franchise but it was rejected by Congress.

I remember Lagman claiming in news interviews the decision of Congress not to issue a new legislative franchise to ABS-CBN amounted to an abridgment of the constitutional rights of free speech and free expression.

Lagman spoke as if he was the embodiment of constitutional expertise.

It turned out that Lagman was wrong.

ABS-CBN management petitioned the Supreme Court for relief, but the high tribunal ruled that Congress cannot be compelled by the Supreme Court to issue a legislative franchise if Congress does not want to.

The Supreme Court also held the denial by Congress of ABS-CBN’s application for a new legislative franchise is not a violation of the Constitutional rights of free speech and free expression.

Since he became a politician, Lagman liked projecting the image he is against the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Information available online also states Lagman’s late brother Filemon was the founder of the Alex Boncayao Brigade, the urban assassination unit of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The LP has been an anti-Marcos political party since 1965.

Thus, it was not surprising that after Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was proclaimed the winner in the 2022 presidential election, Lagman assumed the presidency of the LP.

That’s akin to a political counterpart of the conservator of a bankrupt corporation.

Why so?

Mar Roxas, the LP candidate for president in 2016, was soundly defeated by President Duterte.

Three years later, all of the LP’s candidates for senator were clobbered in the polls.

LP senatorial bet Bam Aquino, who ran for re-election, lost, while Imee Marcos, the elder daughter of President Marcos Sr., won as a neophyte senator.

By 2022, the LP had become so unpopular that to run under its banner was equivalent to a political death kiss.

Thus, LP candidates made one final, desperate attempt at recovering political power in the May 2022 national elections by abandoning the LP label and by running instead as “pinklawan” candidates.

That ruse failed to deceive the voters, and so “pinklawans” Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan, the de facto LP candidates for president and vice president, respectively, lost miserably in the 2022 elections.

In 2013, during the presidency of Noynoy Aquino, the LP managed to get Republic Act 10368 enacted. This law called for the construction of an anti-Martial Law museum.

Eventually, the University of the Philippines, headed by its controversial president, Atty. Danilo Concepcion, donated hectares of valuable real estate in its campus in Diliman, Quezon City.

Observers believe the donation is illegal, but that is a topic for another essay.

Last September, during the 52nd anniversary of Presidential Proclamation 1081, the official instrument by which President Marcos Sr. placed the entire country under martial law in September 1972, Lagman was in the news again.

He was complaining about the lack of funds for the anti-Martial Law museum.

Lagman also said the anti-Martial Law museum “will constantly remind Filipinos of the atrocities of the Marcos Sr. martial law regime.”

The traditional politician from Albay added the martial law era was a period of oppression, and was the darkest segment in Philippine history.

Further, Lagman criticized President Bongbong Marcos for supposedly keeping silent about martial law on its latest anniversary.

Lagman also accused the Marcos Jr. administration of engaging in political revisionism in an attempt to justify what Lagman called “the disgraceful history of the Marcos Sr. dictatorship.”

If that is so, Lagman has to explain why his son and political heir and namesake, incumbent Albay Governor Edcel Greco Lagman, recently affiliated himself with the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, the political party of President Bongbong Marcos.

Governor Lagman’s membership in the Marcos Jr. political party is a repudiation by the son of the statements of the father regarding everything about the Marcoses and martial law.

It’s either that or the elder Lagman is surreptitiously betting on both the administration and opposition camps, which is Lagman’s politics of opportunism.

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