Our kind of politics is more about personal ambition than serving the broader society–and never about the pursuit of lofty ideals. The institutions of politics such as political parties, therefore, serve raw and naked personal ambition not institution-building or nation-building for that matter. The political parties have been sadly reduced to platforms that serve – literally – the ego and power trips of our leading politicians.
With the presidential election just two years away, the full intensity (some use the word venality) and scale of ambition is in full display. And the political parties, or what is happening to them, aptly mirror the chaos and the turmoil that are the brutal wages of these overarching ambitions.
Take the case of the Nacionalista Party, the political party with the grandest tradition, the party that elected five presidents from the Commonwealth period to the declaration of martial rule. The party founded at the turn of the previous century.
The NP is right now imploding and is about to go the way of the old CPP, which, after the breakup, had this configuration: one solid Reaffirm Group and seven or so smaller Rejectionist Groups. Alan Peter Cayetano, who intends to run for president in 2016 heads one NP group. This is a serious group with all the wherewithal of a serious campaign. Funders have been lined up. Advisers, strategists and pollsters, including advertising people, are now working to make the young Cayetano president.
Quietly, another senator, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has operators all over the regions preparing for a possible presidential run. The matriarch, Rep. Imelda Marcos has publicly stated the grand dream of recapturing Malacañang through Bongbong. Whether this will go far, we do not know. But the young Cayetano has to fight it out with Bongbong on who has the cache to use the NP in 2016 in case Senator Marcos runs.
At a recent news conference of the sure UNA candidate, Vice President Jejomar Binay, a faction of the NP showed up its true color. It is for Binay and Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, a NP leader, was assigned to speak for Mr. Binay. Did Remulla’s designation come with the approval of billionaire real estate developer and former Senate President Manny Villar? No word from Mr. Villar yet. But would Gov. Revilla speak for the Binay camp without the nod of Mr. Villar? Impossible.
Villar is not only the richest politician in the country. He is the president of the NP and within the party, he carries a big stick.
This early, with no formal announcement of a schism within the NP ranks, there are already factions a-building.
The designation of Gov. Remulla as NP spokesman (note that the Manila Times op-ed was first to point out that Mr. Tiangco had to get a decent haircut were his desire his to be the permanent spokesman of Mr. Binay and the UNA), supports the second sentence in the three-sentence headline of this column: that right now, the UNA is poaching from other parties.
May we add that the poaching is effortless.
Pragmatic political leaders (and you are talking about 99 percent of the Filipino politicians) are making an exodus to the Binay camp. The polls all point out to a Binay win and the destination of most is toward the Binay camp. Ted Kennedy, in his concession speech after losing in his challenge to incumbent Jimmy Carter, said something like this: “Often we sailed against the wind but held the rudder true.”
That idealism does not apply in the local context. Ours is a politics of impossible pragmatism and “balimbingan” is the busiest activity in politics after a new president is elected. No one sails against the wind and no one holds the rudder with a firm grip.
What if the Binay campaign loses momentum as the elections nears? Easy. The new converts to his cause will desert his foundering ship.
The LP, quite unusual for a party in power, is stricken with a great malady. It does not have a winnable presidential candidate in 2016. Its pool of candidates are as stern and dour-faced as the old Kremlin apparatchiks before the breakup of the USSSR. They all look like Leonid Brezhnev, I said in a previous column. Senator Grace Poe, the candidate that could bolster the party’s chance of retaining the presidency, said it is still premature to even think of a presidential run. Without Poe, the LP does not have a viable, competitive candidate.
In that state of hopelessness, they are plotting for Plan B, a charter change initiative that would remove the constitutional provision that provides for a one presidential term of six years. A resolution filed seeks a return to the old pre martial law structure, two terms of four years each for the president.
But there is a problem with this proposition. The PNoy Fans Club, whose other name is Big Business, had stated their piece on the matter. Against. No term extension. This melds perfectly with the sentiment at my level, the Joes and the Everyman. Where the opposition is probably in the high 90 percent.
Pushing Cha-Cha, the plotters have to be reminded, is the equivalent of laying the ideal environment for EDSA Kwatro.