A turncoat is a traitor, a disloyal member and supporter of a group, or political party, and a subscriber to the group’s cause and beliefs.
The Word Origin & History paragraph of Wikipedia says “the expression to turn one’s coat and change principles and party is recorded from 1565.” We had thought it came from the more dramatic and egregious act of an entire company of soldiers taking of their Redcoats and putting on the Bluecoats of the enemy army.
Some of the synonyms of turncoat are: betrayer, double-crosser, fink, rat, weasel, Benedict Arnold, Judas, apostate, deceiver, defector, quisling and snake.
Most morally anchored people hate turncoats. We want people to be faithful. We lose respect for those who switch allegiances.
Should we then hate the members of the Liberal Party who have all crawled like miserable lowlifes to the PDP-Laban party coalition that had President-elect Rody Duterte as its candidate and which is now preparing to lead the majority bloc in Congress?
The latest news is that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. , who is always referred to as a “stalwart of the Liberal Party” and shares the “vice-chair” position of the LP with Senate President Franklin Drilon, will stay on as a Liberal Party leader and not defect to the PDP-Laban. So should we then hail Mr. Belmonte as a kind of hero and morally superior politician?
No, we shouldn’t. And neither should we condemn the Liberal turncoats who have become PDP-Laban members or Duterte coalition-partners.
We should not condemn them because all these people have not “betrayed” any cause or allegiance. None them, as far as we could tell, were ever pledged to the ideals and the name of the Liberal Party. We don’t even think the Liberal Party has any real ideals at all—notwithstanding some noble words its written constitution may have and some sanctimonious oath its officers may have sworn to uphold when they were elected to party positions and its members vowed also to respect when they were admitted to the party.
All of them became Liberal Party members for convenience, like Mr. Belmonte himself did in 2009 when he defected from then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s ruling Lakas-NUCD party of which Speaker Belmonte was also a “stalwart.”
These Liberals who have now become party mates or coalition allies of President-elect Duterte are not traitors to a cause they vowed to champion in the Liberal Party. What they have done is act to advance their real and abiding cause–their self-interest.
Up to the time of the late Senator Jovito Salonga there seemed to be some honor and heroism in staying loyal to the Liberal Party. That sense of honor was also strong during the time when President Diosdado Macapagal and Senate President Ferdinand Marcos were “stalwarts of the Liberal Party.”
But Mr. Marcos started its destruction, when he defected from the Liberal Party to join the enemy–the Nacionalista Party so he could be its presidential candidate.
He won. And before long, he was the first Philippine President to win re-election and would make the Philippines a relatively benign martial-law state.