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Political realignments


echf ecf JOHNNY DAYANG echoes

THE next election is yet two years away but the smell of political realignments now pervades the air. Shifting partisan alliances is a fact in Philippine politics which reflect the porosity of our electoral system. Politicos change affiliations at the drop of a pin and view coalitions as nothing more than convenience mechanisms.

Although PDP-Laban is deemed as the administration party, its membership does not even constitute a third of the entire Congress. The Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, meanwhile, which Rep. Martin Romualdez heads, is now rebuilding its foundation with new recruits from the House adding muscle to its overall membership.

The rebuilding was first announced in September 2018 by minority leader Rep. Danilo Suarez of Quezon Province who declared that Lakas-CMD “will soon regain its lost political dominance after Arroyo stepped down as president in 2010.”

The strengthening is significant in several ways. First, a total of 30 non-Lakas congressmen have already jumped ship and joined the Romualdez bloc. Second, two former presidents identified with Lakas-CMD and Kampi, respectively, have infused brighter prospects for the bloc to become dominant. And third, the ongoing intramurals inside the PDP-Laban has encouraged defections to Lakas-CMD and the National Unity Party (NUP).

Adding optimism to Lakas-CMD’s buildup is the ongoing House leadership conflict that is sure to create cracks in the House coalition. A political coup can happen anytime, repeating an earlier episode that involved high-profile luminaries. If this happened in the past, there’s no reason it cannot be repeated.

The rise of Rep. Romualdez as new kingmaker may not be a welcome development for people with an axe to grind again his family. The Leyte lawmaker who owns Manila Standard and the Journal Group of Publications, however, is working independently outside the stigma that comes with being associated with the Marcoses. In fact, his humble and gentle persona makes him more diplomatic as a leader and politico than those who claim to stand for what is right.

What makes the Lakas-CMD and Kampi coalition even stronger is the clout Fidel V. Ramos commands through his subalterns and the direct effect Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wields over congressmen who still consider her as patron and influencer.

To start with, things look brighter for the Romualdez bloc in the 2022 polls. For calmly handling the House leadership scuffle in 2019, he has presented himself as a person of substance, something that is wanting among many House leaders.