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Elbowing for space

By: Johnny Dayang

If there’s one country that is never wanting in political parties, definitely it’s the Philippines.

Underscoring this environment reality is the frenetic, if not frantic, recruitment the PDP-Laban, the President’s party, has been doing in the last few months.

Understandably, barangay chairmen, presumably under threat of being removed from their office if the village and SK polls are postponed until May 2018, have enthusiastically embraced the ruling party’s overtures.

For its part, the Liberal Party (LP), deemed lost for now, has taken on a new leadership under Vice President Leni Robredo who, pundits believe, will mean adjustments and realignments in the country’s political firmament.

As things presently stand, the dominant PDP-Laban is doubtless a cinch to rule the 2019 midterm elections. One strong indication of this prospect is the unusual interest the party has taken in recruiting village leaders to further strengthen its grassroots bases.

Reportedly, PDP-Laban now lures barangay captains with attractive come-ons like bringing them to Manila on August 29 for their oath-taking. Some 105 of them from Davao del Norte’s first congressional district have reportedly been already signed up.

How much such oath-taking event will cost in terms of airline tickets, accommodations, allowances, and incidental expenses is surely huge. Where the money will come from, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a Senate pretender, may have to explain when Filipinos start asking questions.

In contrast, the LP needs to mend its fences first and bring together what remains of its once massive clout. Many of its members have jumped to PDP-Laban. It’s a reality, however, that turn-coats will likely return to their old alliances when the balance of power tilts afresh.

Elbowing for leadership space inside political parties is a given reality in local politics. Unlike in other countries where there are only two dominant political blocs, in the Philippines partisan loyalty is often equated with political prostitution.

A resurrected LP under a new strong leader who stands on high ground can create complications for the PDP-Laban, especially if its leaders commit more errors along the way. A truly strengthened LP indeed promises a haunting political experience for Filipinos.

Only Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, the unquestioned top gun and the most likely presidential timber of PDP-Laban, can steer clear the majority bloc from a bruising collision with an emerging Robredo juggernaut.