THE WORM’S EYEVIEW: Chaos pretending to be a ‘party system’

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 11 June) ­– Politics is on full throttle now, with lots of grandstanding all over the place and lots of maneuvering between and among the traditional politicos—trapos—and assorted wannabes.

Vying for attention, name recall, and popularity ratings, the race is clearly on, along with the continued and unchecked bastardization of the political “system.”

Up and down the vertical and horizontal levels of government, self-appointed “leaders”—misleaders really—are indulging in gimmicks and unseemly displays of vanity, bravado, and greed.

Election fever is afflicting even those who pretend they’re not running even as they’re already galloping. Think of Davao’s Rodrigo Duterte and Panfilo Lacson.

Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is getting into the act, positioning itself for the 2016 elections by launching its United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).


It’s unclear, however, if the UBJP will operate like a regular political party—meaning, civilian, non-violent, democratic. Its fatigue uniforms and displays of high-powered weaponry during its gatherings are sending an ominous message.

Does the party renounce violence or armed struggle in pursuing its political goals? Does it pledge allegiance to the Philippine Constitution and the Philippine Republic in contesting regional elections?

Better clarify that now.

For that matter, the Liberal Party, supposedly the “ruling party,” is no help in making people understand and appreciate what a political party is all about. It’s not even clear what its hierarchy is or who constitutes its rank and file.

They say President B.S. Aquino is its “titular head”—whatever that means. It’s laughable the way he peddles Mar Roxas as his choice for 2016 but keeps on chasing after Grace Poe who’s not even a member.


The other so-called parties are just as unruly. Nacionalista. United Nationalist Alliance. Nationalist Citizens Coalition. Puwersa ng Masa. PDP-LABAN. All they have are “talking heads” and alleged spokespersons but without a body of members propping up the head. Do they even have committees or chapters?

We don’t see them holding caucuses, or organizing chapters. As far as one can tell, they have no “party stand” or position that they forge collectively “as a party.” Whatever the talking head says, that’s it!

Such dysfunctional, make-shift parties are a disservice to our society’s need for political education. Pedantic and pretentious, they mock our democracy, betraying its immaturity through its indeterminate processes.

They sport party labels that are basically meaningless. It’s not really a party system. It’s an alphabet soup with acronyms floating around, with nothing to meaningfully distinguish one from another. And ponder the mish-mash of “party list” groups: they’re neither parties nor lists prepared by parties.


All the fakery covers up the reality that they’re merely a bunch of self-proclaimed (mis)leaders and power-greedy conspirators with no real followers that one can refer to as the party faithful.

What they consist of are sycophants, backers, and financiers with vested interests that have nothing to do with society’s interests or the common good.

Let’s hope the United Bangsamoro Justice Party knows better and performs well. This newcomer—and yes—the newly formed Centrist Democrat Party financed by Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation—may be the only pair that will come to resemble a real political party in due time.

[Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. Author of books on governance, he is chairman/convenor of the Gising Barangay Movement Inc. ]