Partyforumseasia: As we described in an earlier post (LINK) a year ago, the democratic system of the Philippines has developed a unique system of party hopping once a new president takes over. Faster than in any other country, losing parties join the presidential camp and MP’s leave their party and join the president’s. Call them opportunists, unprincipled, turncoats or traitors, it is a pragmatic and realistic way of providing the new president with a parliamentary majority that works from day one. This happened like a clockwork when President Duterte took over after his landslide victory in May 2016.
Based on several newspaper comments in the Philippines, the Global Times (LINK) reports a rather noteworthy project of the President’s Party. Aquilino Pimentel III, who is President of PDP-Laban and also the Senate President, has traveled to Xiamen in East China’s Fujian Province with a delegation of two dozen party cadres in June. The trip was a follow-up of an agreement between PDP-Laban with related departments of the Chinese government last December to send party members for “policy training” at the Party School of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee.
While international observers are watching with some suspicion that the Philippines under Duterte are getting closer to China and seem to discount the long-standing and close relationship with the United States, the PDP-Laban – Communist Party of China co-operation projects might be an important game changer. As a former US-colony and close military ally in WW II, the Philippines have not only been important for military support by the US. The domestic political development after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship has also been a preferred area for America’s democracy and party support organizations like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the USAID, and some others from Europe. The 3.5 million Filipino Americans also played a part in keeping the relationship close and seemingly logical.
Getting closer now to the Communist Party and their cadre training must come as a shock and disappointment to all who thought the Philippines were a pillar for Western interests in Southeast Asia, not to speak of Obama’s pivot to Asia. PDP-Laban is certainly not really close to Communist ideology, but flexible enough to cooperate with the CPC, a party maybe no longer that close to traditional Communist ideology either, but well organized and efficient in cadre training.