'The Force' and 'The Resistance' as anti-political parties

The battle lines are slowly being drawn for the 2019 Midterm Elections.

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Koko Pimentel and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez have already given their preliminary Senatoriable preferences. Meanwhile, re-electionist Senators who are generally supportive of the Duterte administration have formed an alliance called ‘The Force.’ Left out in ‘The Force’, Sen. Bam Aquino has expressed his desire to be part of an opposition slate which he dubbed as ‘The Resistance.’

The formation of groups such as ‘The Force" and ‘The Resistance’ are present day manifestations that the country lacks a genuine political party system. In the absence of constitutional reform, this practice will continue to be a prevailing trend for succeeding elections to come.

In reality, there are no distinguishable political groups/parties/organizations in the country probably except for the CPP-NPA. Most of these political entities are built around personalities who come and go. Instead of espousing for ideology-based programs and policies, these groups pander the masses with proverbial heaven on earth and melodramatic promises.

Much as PDP-Laban has been labeled as a bandwagon party, it is actually encouraging that Sen. Koko Pimentel has made support for federalism as a pre-condition for inclusion in the administration's Senate slate. Following this pronouncement, members of "The Force" will be compelled to either support Federalism or be excluded from the administration's 2019 Senatorial Ticket. However, it remains to be seen whether this policy would hold by the time Certificates of Candidacies are filed before the COMELEC.

On the other hand, the inability of the Liberal Party (LP) to attract party membership and consolidate the opposition has prompted its leaders to call for a unified ticket that will challenge the Duterte administration's policies under ‘The Resistance.’ However, becoming part of ‘The Resistance’ continues to be an unattractive proposition based on recent events. For example, LP's gimmick to launch ‘Tindig Pilipinas’ immensely failed to attract a critical mass or even force the President’s hand for changes in policy direction. Hence, it remains to be seen whether ‘The Resistance’ is capable of filling up a Senatorial slate to credibly oppose the PDP-Laban in the 2019 Elections.

Political preservation is the name of the game in national politics. Based on this survival instinct, politicians and political groups are constrained to form temporary alliances or coalitions. In the absence of an enabling law that imposes political party discipline and prevents turncoatism, the habit of party switching and allegiance changing continues to worsen.

For the reasons cited above, we must support calls to have a stronger political party system under the proposed constitutional reform. Otherwise, a transition to a new form of government would be meaningless without strong and genuine political parties.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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