Is the Liberal Party still alive?
Franklin Drilon knows LP barely breathes but he’s no longer surprised, much less worried.
According to the Senate minority leader, the shrinking number of LP members is a reflection of the weakness of the Philippine political party system that is largely personality-based instead of platform-based.
And this lack of loyalty to a political party’s principles and goals or the absence of such party platform is also the reason why every time there’s a change in administration, throngs of politicians also jump ship, scrambling over to the ruling party usually in exchange for political and economic favors.
“Si VP Leni Robredo, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, Bam, Leila, mga ilang kongresista sila Banal, marami-rami pa rin. Ngunit inaamin ko na parang kumunti ang aming kasama sa Liberal Party. At isa po ‘yan sa aking ikinalulungkot dahilan sa ang….political party system sa ating bansa ay isa siguro sa pinakamahina sa Asya,” said Drilon during an interview with DZRH’s Damdaming Bayan program with Cesar Chavez on Monday, March 12.
[LP has still a number of members such as Vice President Leni Robredo, senators Kiko Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, and Leila de Lima, and some congressmen like Rep. Jorge “Bolet” Banal. But I admit that the number of LP members has decreased. And that’s one of the reasons that makes me sad because the political party system in our country is perhaps among the weakest in Asia.]
He explained that this weakness is the reason why party-switching every time there’s a new administration has become a normal thing in the Philippines, just like the exodus of politicians to President Rodrigo Duterte’s party PDP-Laban.
“Talagang pagpalit ng administrasyon, magpapalit lahat ng affiliation. Sa katunayan, tinatanong ako sa aking probinsya, sa aking lalawigan sa Iloilo, dahil lahat doon ay lumipat na sa PDP-Laban,” the senator said.
[Affiliation really changes every time the administration changes. In fact, I’m being asked in my province of Iloilo about it because all of the politicians there had already transferred to PDP-Laban.]
But Drilon is untroubled by the “death” of LP in his home-province because he knows another wave of political exodus will happen when the administration again changes.
“Buhay pa ba sa lalawigan ninyo ang Liberal Party? Ang sagot ko ay I’m not bothered by that dahil alam ko naman na pagpalit ng administrasyon, magpapalit na naman lahat ‘yan. That is the irony, ‘yan po ang weakness ng ating political party system,” the lawmaker said.
“At nakakalungkot…dahil sa demokasraya dapat matibay ang ating mga partido politikal. ‘Yan po ang dapat nating unawain at dapat ‘yan po ang ating ambisyon,” added Drilon.
[And it is saddening because under a democracy, our political parties should have been stable. That’s what we need to understand and that should also be our ambition.]
‘Fans club of politicians’
In a study published in 2009 by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German political foundation associated with the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Ateneo de Manila political science instructor and Ateneo School of Government program coordinator Joy Aceron noted that in the Philippines, political parties “can be best described as temporary political alliances.”
“Some would even go to the extent of saying there are no real parties in the country and what we have are mere ‘fans club’ of politicians,” said Aceron.
This, according to Aceron, “is usually blamed on our political leaders and politicians, and their inability to go beyond their political ambitions and vested interests.”
“The people are also sometimes blamed for not participating in partisan politics and for not voting according to party affiliations. Pundits even claim that the political parties’ lack of ideological orientation are due to the politicians who behave the way they do because people do not vote according to party platforms or programs,” she said.
“This has become a vicious cycle—a blame game that provides no immediate actionable options for effecting change. Altering the politicians’ behavior and making them suddenly party-followers would be wishful thinking, and so is changing the people’s view on political parties,” added Aceron.
WATCH CESAR CHAVEZ’S INTERVIEW WITH SEN. FRANKLIN DRILON: