The more important thing for me now is to devote my time to my candidacy and not the 18,000 or more local candidates. This is, in a way, an important step for the party and for myself.
-Gilbert Teodoro Jr., March 30, 2010
The Long View
Their master’s voice
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:05:00 03/31/2010
IN “PRESIDENTIAL BANDWAGON: PARTIES and Party Systems in the Philippines,” Japanese scholar Yuko Kasuya set out to work on a problem. Here’s her own summary of what her work was about: “In the wake of democratization, one of the biggest challenges facing new governments is managing a smooth transition to democratic rule.” This was the specific problem Filipinos faced in 1986 after the dictatorship fell.
So Kasuya asked, “How can newly elected governments stabilize their hold on power and consolidate democratic processes?” Or, put another way, “Under what conditions might an apparently successful transition misfire?”
Kasuya “explores these questions by focusing on one of the most pressing issues in consolidating democracy: the stability of party politics.” And she also asks, why is it that “the party system changed from a stable two-party system to an unstable multi-party system in the aftermath of democratization in the Philippines?”
Kasuya argues that “the shortened presidential term limit from two terms to one under the new Constitution was the major factor that destabilized the party system in the post-Marcos era.” The nature of the president’s term means that parties have no reason to stick together to support the re-election of a president; that, furthermore, presidents keep their focus on simply keeping their coalitions together during their time in office, but loss much of their ability to influence who would replace them.
And a longer presidential term also means a longer period in the wilderness for politicians, who could be attracted to join each president’s temporary coalition, depriving opposition parties of leaders to wait in the wings.
But all the efforts to nurture a coalition from scratch (to keep governors and congressmen fat and happy, or to prevent an opposition victory in the Senate), all the things that keep presidents busy for six years melt away as soon as the campaign for their successors begin. The present Frankenstein coalition is two-thirds Lakas-CMD and one third Kampi, the former itself a hybrid created to provide a political vehicle for Fidel V. Ramos and the latter manufactured by President Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband as a vehicle for his wife. Lakas itself withered away during the brief Estrada presidency, and it took repeated jolts of patronage to finally assemble the present Lakas-Kampi-CMD.
On Monday news came that Gilbert Teodoro Jr. had resigned his post as party chair, followed less than a day later by the party president, Miguel Dominguez. Asked to respond to Teodoro’s resignation, Speaker Prospero Nograles said, “It is a shock to me and without consultation from us, the previous leaders of the party. [I] am now confused and seem to be out of the loop.” When asked about Dominguez, he said, “What has happened to our party, to each his own?”
Yet only a few days before (on March 26), the party nomenklatura had gathered in Mandaluyong to witness the signing of a “Green Covenant,” with Prospero Pichay (he of the repeated assurances the Frankenstein coalition has 33 percent of the national vote in the bag) in proud attendance. Except to be Green requires more than sentimental ties. Or it may simply be that the kick-off of the local races led provincial allies to discover that Teodoro had no goodies to dispense.
Which makes quite relevant the March 29 statement of Sen. Richard Gordon in Hilongos, Leyte, who tartly observed, “Traditional politicians will go to Villar. They see how much money that guy is really pouring. They are just waiting for their campaign funds.” No money, no honey, and the flies, having buzzed around Teodoro for some months, have decided to feast elsewhere. The biggest and juiciest of them – the ones, incidentally, on whose shoulders would rest the much-vaunted Pichay prediction of a 33 percent administration percentage regardless of public opinion – had been droning over to Villar’s side for days.
Three days before Teodoro threw in the towel as far as the party chairmanship was concerned, provincial kingpin Chavit Singson announced that he was officially supporting Sen. Manuel Villar. Another provincial kingpin, Jose Zubiri, has done likewise (though his sons remain officially members of the ruling coalition). Alvin Garcia in Cebu has publicly gone for Villar, while Gov. Gwen Garcia has publicly endorsed Loren Legarda for vice president. Other Lakas officials began trickling into the Villar camp late last year, as Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao did in October and the Eusebios of Pasig did in November.
Something mentioned in Bukidnon Online piqued my interest: It was the elder Zubiri’s claim that he had invited Teodoro to address his provincemates in order to “dispel rumors he is a mere puppet of outgoing President Arroyo,” only to be snubbed. Now Edwin Espejo, in the same article in which he reported talk that party secretary-general Francis Manglapus also relinquished his party post, also quoted Fidel V. Ramos as commenting that Teodoro would have to make a bold move: “Gibo will have to do something¦ he will likely do it. “Was he talking of an FVR-style bolting of the coalition? Desperate times call for desperate measures.
The President’s American spokesman, Gary Olivar, cheekily snorted it’s a “win-win” situation, and for once he may have been telling the truth. Teodoro remains an ongoing experiment. But a sideshow.
The clincher is in the same article by Espejo: “Party insiders said that they have been receiving reports that the husband of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been calling Lakas-KAMPI-CMD officials to shift their support to Villar.”
Jinggoy Estrada once complaint that Villar had shoplifted their theme and campaign color. His father’s spokesmen have pointed out that the stampede to the NP is merely the same dogs with different collars obeying the same master’s voice.
(the Frankenstein Coalition’s April Fools’ Day reshuffle is here: Shake-up rocks Lakas-CMD Kampi leadership.)