EVERY six years, they rot. Not at a slow process of withering away but via an instantaneous meltdown—and with the timing of the giant crash set at late May after the presidential election. What are these abnormally crash-prone, hollow creatures?
They are the ruling political coalitions in the Philippine context; a country where politics operates without the science, and where seeming political behemoths could disappear in sinkholes within days after the loss of their presidential candidates. Leviathans today, pigmies tomorrow.
So, what is the 2016 version of the instantaneous, but totally expected, crash?
With no surprise to the nation, except for baffled outsiders with stable—and enduring—political coalitions, the behemoth LP unraveled and exploded even before its leader, President Aquino, could turn over the Palace to his successor, The Digong. Barely two months ago, Mr. Aquino presided over a so-called “show of strength and unity,” with every LP leader pledging undying fealty to the ruling coalition and the LP”s Orwellian catchall, “Daang Matuwid.” But the loss of the LP candidate, a Wharton-trained technocrat with a very impressive CV, to a tough-talking Southern city mayor whose favorite verb is kill, pushed the LP into an auto-pilot suicide.
Today, 99 percent of those who pledged undying loyalty to the LP at that April meeting have deserted the losing ship, and worse, are now playing courtiers to the new King and the King’s mandarins. They only not deserted Mr. Aquino and Mr. Roxas, they have easily—and comfortably—shifted to the new slogan, “Change is Coming,” which is definitely more cool and contemporary than the tortured version of Aquino-Roxas’ Daang Matuwid.
Some, and this would be a dagger planted into the hearts of the Aquino-Roxas Bros, now openly mock the “Daang Matuwid” with new formulations from Daang Bako-Bako to Daang Tuwad-Tuwad. These are the lawmakers who got very little “insertions” in the 2016 national budget and have now determined that enduring Mr. Aquino’s long and tiring sermons about “integrity” was not worth the six years of being affiliated with the LP. No president in our contemporary history had had preached on “integrity” and “Daang Matuwid” more than Mr. Aquino—which was too tedious for many of the party members who, in the first place, shifted to the LP in 2010 to gain pork and perks, not to listen to endless sermons on “integrity.”
Are they big-time ingrates? Not so in their minds as politics in this country dances to the tune of personal profit and gain, not to some nebulous concept of people and country and belief in some party plank, which, in the first place, was never really a total commitment of the Aquino-Roxas Bros.
Why did the LP crash and burn like the others without any waiting period? And with the Aquino-Roxas Bros watching helplessly as their former allies donned new coats, the coat of the PDP-Laban, specifically? There was that faint hope that the LP was not just another Lakas-NUCD, which crumpled like a lemon car within days after the 1998 presidential elections and the count which said that the Lakas-NUCD standard-bearer, Mr. de Venecia, was wiped out by Erap Estrada? Or, the late Monching Mitra’s Laban, which crumpled like soaked paper after Mr. Mitra’s loss in 1992.
First and foremost is this. The Aquino-Roxas Bros are not vested with the kind of political gravitas that would make their followers extremely loyal. Their sense of entitlement is such that they regard their followers as serfs, not co-equals. They listen to their own voices and governed from their high perches that no outside opinions could penetrate. To picture how self-entitled the two are, I would like to paint a grim contrast—Aquino III and his father Ninoy Aquino.
Even during the darkest days of martial rule, Ninoy Aquino had the loyalty of most Pampango politicians and the likes of Jose Lingad swore to die for Ninoy and his causes. In Zamboanga, Cesar Climaco waited for marching orders from the jailed Ninoy. Same for Evelio Javier in Antique. Lingad and Climaco and Javier were all assassinated and the binding thread was their undying loyalty to Ninoy.
Can you imagine an LP leader taking a bullet for PNoy? Even Mr. Erice would not take a bullet for the Bros. There is no loyalty vested on lightweights.
On a pragmatic level, it was the Aquino-Roxas Bros who set off the chain of events that led to the scrapping of the pork barrel. If that were for some lofty purpose, it would have been OK. The problem was the Bros just schemed to end the pork barrel to fully control the pork barrel, which soon reappeared in the form of DAP. Why on earth would congressmen, whether the district reps or the party-list reps, be loyal to the architects of the DAP monstrosity? Between the DAP and the pork barrel, the pork, believe it or not, was the lesser evil.
Third is this. Most politicians, who deal with problems from constituents everyday, loath hypocritical talk. They saw that while Mr. Aquino talked endlessly about “integrity,” and warned colleagues against backsliding to the old ways, Mr. Aquino just governed with a limited constituency, enriching the top 1 percent, and limited goals—GDP growth and credit upgrades. The extreme inequality, described by Pope Francis and US President Obama as the defining issue of our time, never bothered him. If you listened closely to what Peping Cojuangco said in defense of The Digong and his indictment of his nephew, that was it, the alienation of so many people from the governance of the Aquino-Roxas Bros.
After the May 9 polls closed, most of the elected saw Mr. Aquino and his LP as deadweights and losers. The LP then crashed and burned like so many of the legless political coalitions before it.