IN the normal course of events in Philippine politics, a majority party supporting a new administration breaks up when a new administration is elected and most party members migrate to the new one in power. This has been the case since the restoration of party politics after the end of martial law in 1986.
When President Duterte won the presidency in 2016, most members of the majority Liberal Party under the previous Aquino administration quickly joined the new President’s PDP-Laban. Many smaller parties then joined the super-majority coalition in the House of Representatives.
It is only the third year of the six-year Duterte administration, but the PDP-Laban appears to be breaking up. Or its top leaders in Congress have lost support, so that they have had to give way to new leaders. Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, president of the PDP-Laban, was replaced as Senate president last May by Sen. Vicente Sotto of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, even if he could have stayed until October when he had to file his certificate of candidacy.
Last Monday, the PDP-led majority behind House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, secretary-general of the party, disappeared and Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was elected to replace him. Then last Friday, a big group of PDP-Laban members gathered at the Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City in what they called the party’s 11th National Assembly, and elected a new president and secretary-general to replace Pimentel and Alvarez.
To this day, the situation in the PDP-Laban remains confused. There is talk that the party never really held the allegiance of so many members who merely migrated to it because it was considered President Duterte’s party in the 2016 election. The new break-away group which met at the Amoranto Stadium ousted Pimentel and Alvarez but retained President Duterte as chairman and his special assistant Bong Go as auditor.
In the interest of political stability in the country, we hope that the situation in the House will stabilize and PDP which remains firmly behind President Duterte will get to settle the differences within its ranks. The recent revamp in the House appears to have been directed at the personal leadership of the ousted speaker and his advocacies, like no-elections in 2019, which no other party member shared.
We thus look forward to President Duterte’s move to call a caucus to unite the divided party factions. And through the new House leaders, the PDP-Laban should be able to carry on as the majority party as it shepherds various important bills through the chamber in the coming crucial years of the Duterte administration.