Do you remember the time of your parents when there was only the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party?
All the members of those political parties then died either as a staunch Liberal, or as a devoted Nacionalista.
Party-switching or being turncoats was generally unheard of.
Recently, the local media reported that regardless of their former political affiliation, the ‘Kasaligan’ group of Councilors have chosen to become members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition headed in the Province by Cong. Chiquiting Sagarbarria.
Reality check with our present situation consign our political organizations to being mere agents of patronage- and personality-based politics.
This is why political parties, in general, are held in low esteem, often perceived as “selfish, dishonest, biased, and incapable of recruiting quality leaders”.
Rather, Philippine political parties are often reduced to mere ritualized expressions of prevailing elite coalitions, unable to command party discipline; leaders and government functionaries are, therefore, induced to gather legislative and local support through the use of patronage, privilege, and pork, and other forms of rent-seeking activities.
In 1997, Dr. Joel Rocamora of the Institute of Popular Democracy analyzed political parties as temporary and unstable coalitions of upper class fractions pieced together for elections and post-election battles for patronage.
The rest of the time “they maneuver in particularistic horse-trading and the perennial search for deals”.
This view was affirmed by Jose Almonte (2007) who described the country’s existing parties as “catch-all” parties that target to please everyone and anyone from all sectors and social strata, and “paper” parties organized in an instant to support the presidential ambition of a political personality, serving as mechanisms for patronage politics to perpetuate vested interests.
Political parties do not select candidates, but are instead formed by the candidates themselves as vehicles for their own campaigns.
Personality- and money-based politics greatly undermine the electoral exercise since only a few genuinely-democratic options are made available to the electorate.
To many voters, elections have become a process through which “the least evil” is selected from among a crop of choices that were neither identified for their platforms or leadership credentials, but for the amount of money they have at their disposal to run an expensive campaign.
Unfortunately, an electoral exercise that aims to choose the least evil would inevitably result in a bad choice—thus, perpetuating the cycle of corruption, and bad governance.
President Marcos Jr. seeks to unite all political parties to rally support for Federalism, wherein autonomous states are even further divided into local government units.
But are we truly ready for this type of government system? Our nation is not under a good state; the rate of poverty is getting higher; corruption is getting more entrenched; more crimes and violence are committed, with the perpetrators getting away with it.
According to retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza, a shift to a federal system will weaken our Republic, fragment our nation, and render at moot the many years we have spent to attain national unity.
Shifting to a federal form of government would only intensify regional differences, and encourage the rise of village tyrants and village dictators.
Don’t say you were not warned.
Author’s email: [email protected]