I was in in Duterte country over the weekend and again, I was treated to what can be. The Davao International Airport was a lot better than NAIA I, cleaner and more user-friendly than NAIA II, with functioning escalators compared to NAIA III. There was order in the taxi queue. There were no individual transactions on how much the fare would be. Before the taxi can go out the complex, the security by the gate logs the number of the taxi and the name of the rider.
When I asked my driver why they do that, the answer was interesting: “Mam para kung may reklamo kayo o may naiwan kayo madaling mahanap.” Remarkable. I asked about the situation in the area and the driver was more than willing to engage. As we talked, I was observing the cleanliness of Davao City, the sense of order and the pride the people had in themselves. It shows!
The statement that got me thinking was: “Mam, maswerte ka kung manakawan ka dito sa amin, bihira kasi mangyari. So celebrity ka pag nangyari.” Amazing!
And so I went with my task and told the driver to pick me up 5:30 pm so I can do some local shopping before I catch my plane back to Manila. The driver was at the doorstep of the hotel 5:00 pm and he brought me to two areas with not much hassle, so unlike cab drivers in Manila.
The Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) or “Ang Partidong Tunay Na Demokrasya” was founded in January 2012 and became a full pledged national political party upon accreditation of the Commission on Elections on 12 September 2013. Two names stood out in the ground breaking work of “charting a legacy– pass the torch, as it were, to a new generation of Centrist Democratic political technocrats and operators who may have to carry on the task of lifting the Pilipino from the socio-political-economic quagmire” the older generations have made—Lito Lorenzana and the late Rey Teves.
I have often bumped into Manong Lito. A big man physically yet often quiet and observing. He |often agitates people when he speaks in his booming voice. He often asks the right but hard questions, forcing the listeners to pause and think before reacting. Lito is a man of purpose; of ensuring the successor generation has the wherewithal to manage political discourse a lot better than their generation. I often asked Lito why he plods on building political parties and not giving up and you would see the answers to that once you attend the trainings of CDP.
CDP started as a movement composed of young professionals who “must first understand the uses, misuses, abuses and even non-use of political power.” This is quite outside the box in approach. Building a party off election year has never been the way to go. But CDP started that way. In 2011, though the auspices of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), the movement visited Germany to see first-hand how a country so devastated picked itself up from the ruins of WWII and elevated its economy to no. 4 in the world through the Christian Democratic concepts of Social Market Economy.
I spoke on internal and external communications of a political party, a talk I did for parties in the Asean region some months back. This was my second talk with CDP since in December 2013 where I was asked to talk on “Effectively Communicating the Messages of a Political Party to a Large Audience.” I have personally decided to assist the Centrist Democratic Party or CDP so I can witness the birth of a new party in the country. It is interesting how CDP evolved and who the prime movers are in building the party.
Political parties perform an important task in government. They bring people together to achieve control of the government via elections, develop policies favorable to their interests or the groups that support them (agenda setting), and organize and persuade voters to elect their candidates to office (offering options).
When functioning properly, political parties develop “common ideas among a significant group in order to exert pressure upon the political system. Thus, they help place citizens’ local concerns in a national context through interest articulation. Citizens may be divided over interests, leaders, or policies; political parties can organize these differences, creating grounds for compromise and helping societies to unite. In addition, political parties train and nominate political leaders who will assume a role in governing society. Through their efforts to control and influence public policy, political parties play an intermediary role, linking the institutions of government to economic, ethnic, cultural, religious and other societal groups. They can rally support behind important legislation, advocate positions that improve the public welfare, and advance citizens’ interests. Further, their participation in elections allows citizens to hold them accountable for their policies and actions.”
During the training, I asked the participants what makes the CDP stand out from the rest? Three responses came in rapid fashion: a) “I control the party”; b) CDP is human dignity; and c) “I pay membership dues”.
What struck me were the first response and the third. Never do we see these things in existing parties. CDP is not a party of incumbents. It is a party of ordinary people and they pay dues to be members. Never heard of in party building in this country. When you have ordinary people, paying dues to be members in a political party, you are doing it the opposite way but the fact that these two elements are present this early, CDP is moving in the right direction.
To CDP, the waves are not calm, the men and women are looking for something much, much more and they have not said yes to the presumptive heir to the throne. May you spread your wings and scale the heights and may your efforts be a way for others to look into themselves and ask if their parties have served the people well or were they just the same as the previous monolith of a political party where membership is just momentary; where institutions are milked to ensure allegiance; where taxpayers’ money is party funds and where interest articulation for a legislative agenda has been compromised or worse, set aside.