"The ruling party isn’t the only one going through this."
From where we sit, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is dead wrong when he says “nothing has changed” in the ruling party’s objectives for the upcoming elections. Everything has changed.
Cusi, the president of one faction of the ruling PDP-Laban, urged members of his party to remain steadfast, one day after his party’s candidate for vice president, Senator Christopher Go, revised his certificate of candidacy to run for president—under a different political group. At the same time, the The PDP-Laban’s dummy candidate for president, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, simply withdrew from the race, saying it was “a party decision” – presumably on Cusi’s orders.
Cusi, who has been trying desperately to get President Duterte to run for any office—holding out a run at the vice presidency and then for the Senate—sent an open letter to his colleagues that suggests his faction is nothing more than a platform for one man, Mr. Duterte.
“We urge you to toe the party line and remain steadfast. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will personally lead our campaign and is committed to support all our candidates.
“We shall call a National Council meeting before the end of this year. We shall campaign hard and we will not rest until our objective is attained.
“GO for continuity! GO for victory!” he said, apparently referring to the party’s erstwhile candidate for vice president, who decided to run for president under a different party.
The letter and the recent machinations of the President’s men suggest that the PDP-Laban is little more than a political tool to be used for the benefit of the President and his hangers-on, and bears no allegiance to the socialist principles upon which the party was originally founded in 1982.
Meanwhile, the leader of the other PDP-Laban faction, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, supports erstwhile party president Senator Manny Pacquiao—who also filed his certificate of candidacy under a different party, the Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiatives or PROMDI.
All this points, not only to a party in disarray, but to a system of political organization that has become meaningless. The ruling party isn’t the only one going through this—it simply is the most visible example.
This is the expected result when party leaders lose sight of their founding principles and make election victory the only measure of success. The costs to society, as our recent history teaches us, can be high.
In the book “Strong Patronage, Weak Politics,” Paul D. Hutchcroft of the Australian National University argues that as long as parties are weak and lacking in coherence, the primary focus of political contention is much more likely to be on patronage and pork than on policies and programs. That is certainly something to bear in mind as the 2022 election circus rolls into town.