PDP (PartidoDemokratiko Pilipino)-Laban, the party that catapulted Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency, is showing clear signs of cracking up. Again. One reason for this is because the party lacks any true ideologies and principles to adhere to, and is nothing more than a conglomeration of political opportunists who will jump ship at the first sign of trouble.
This was again shown in the last few weeks when the party president, Koko Pimentel, was ousted as Senate president, followed by the removal of party secretary general Pantaleon Alvarez as House speaker.
For the record, my one connection to the party is that I did a book about its history a few years ago. It was a different organization than it is now, though. Much of the leadership has changed. The one thing that hasn’t changed is its adopting the cause of federalism, which it views as a way to progress. We can surmise that this cause was what attracted Mr. Duterte to the party.
Immediately after the election of Mr. Duterte, PDP-Laban went on a recruitment binge and everybody and his neighbor rushed to join the fun and become a card-carrying member of the party, which soon enough became the dominant political party in both Congress and local government units.
What’s happening to PDP-Laban is sad, considering its early history. Among its founders were the likes of Benigno Aquino Jr. and Aquilino Pimentel Sr., along with a number of respected figures opposed to the Marcos dictatorship. When Cory Aquino became president, it became the dominant party and it was led by her brother PepingCojuangco.
But as is always the case, the party practically disappeared when a new administration took over, even if that new regime (of Fidel Ramos) was allied with Cory Aquino.
Three to four years ago, the party appeared headed for a revival as then Vice President Jejomar Binay had all but taken control of PDP-Laban. Binay appeared to be on his way to the presidency until allegations of corruption derailed his presidential ambitions. The former Makati mayor also decided that he wanted to create his own political party, so he left PDP-Laban.
Rightly or wrongly, the party coerced a hesitant Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte to run for president, and the foul-mouthed politician struck a chord with the electorate. He won the presidency with ease after overtaking early favorite Grace Poe, as well as Mar Roxas and Binay.
In the last few years, therefore, the party of Ninoy Aquino had taken a 180-degree turn, as Duterte has often identified himself as some sort of Marcos loyalist.
Koko Pimentel as party president only proved himself as every bit the opportunist that the majority of its members were. He allied himself with Duterte, and despite being head of the legislative branch of government – and therefore co-equal with the president, at least in theory – Pimentel became totally subservient to the president.
Both Pimentel and Alvarez were Duterte yes men and should be held responsible for weakening the legislature into little more than a stamp pad of Malacanang.
Pimentel can be considered a weakling, while Alvarez was and is the lowest form of politician imaginable – every act he took was taken to either guarantee his continued stay as House speaker, or to follow the dictates of Mr. Duterte.
So why were Pimentel and Alvarez removed from their top posts?
In the case of the Senate president, his weak personality had become too obvious such that the majority of the generally independent-minded senators could no longer stomach his poor excuse for leadership.
As for the deposed House speaker, he believed that the majority of congressmen were loyal to him when in fact they were only loyal to themselves. When former president and now congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo made it known that she wanted to be House speaker, and with the widely held belief that she has billions of pesos at her disposal, the unpopular Alvarez did not have any choice but to exit his prized post. It also didn’t help that he made an enemy of the president’s prized daughter and incumbent Davao City mayor, Sarah Duterte.
So where does the PDP-Laban go from here?
In the coming mid-term elections, the party will still be a big factor. After all, it still has a nationwide grassroots network. It will also campaign for charter change and federalism, which are both tough sells for the public.
After a few expected setbacks, expect this party to again become dormant until another set of opportunists takes its reins.
What else can be expected of a political party that represents nothing?