The slow and painful death of Philippine Political Parties

Political parties in the Philippines do not just serve as mere vehicles for the political aspirations of influential/powerful individuals. They are legally organized syndicates formed by a few who agree to acquire legitimate political power in pursuit of their shared selfish interests.

The recent in-fighting among leading officials of the administration party PDP-Laban reveal that parties are short-lived alliances bound to die a natural death once an individual's ulterior political motives do not align with the others. The cracks within the ruling party also reveal a potential break-up of current alliances and a potential shift in membership either to old and established political parties or to newly formed political coalitions/parties to cater to fractured egos and an individual's ambition for higher office.

Gone are the days where politically minded and involved individuals gravitate towards political parties because of their shared ideologies, platform of governance and vision for country. Today, the attraction to political parties is due to its popularity and winnability of its leading officials, along with its strong political machinery.

About a decade ago, there were serious discussions to enact a political party reform law to prevent political turncoatism and promote membership-driven parties. It never gained serious attention of lawmakers as it is perceived that it goes against their interest in terms of political preservation. During this administration, the bill has never been heard of again.

Political parties, in essence, are only active during the election season. While they are mandated to maintain headquarters and install officials within a fixed term, political parties in the Philippines do not have regular party activities such as member consultations, agenda-building and advocacy raising which make them organizations that work in seasons rather than full-pledged organizations with year-round programs and projects.

Where does that leave the Philippines come 2022? It is expected that new broad coalitions of political parties will rise, and where old traditional parties currently out of the limelight will be resurrected to cater to an individual’s aspirations for higher office. It is very likely that the current administration coalition will disintegrate as several key personalities from within have expressed their intention to run either as President or Vice President. These events leave the fate of political parties to the same practice election in and election out.

Political parties are relevant entities in the life of every Filipino. Parties are supposed to embody and reflect the collective vision, aspirations, and dreams of a select group of Filipinos for a better Philippines based on ideology and shared beliefs. When parties become otherwise, people need to reject representatives of these parties through the power of the ballot. Otherwise, expect the same experiences from one administration to another.

The country’s political party system is experiencing a slow and painful death in as far as its true essence and purpose is concerned.

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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