Ruling Party of the Philippines to Learn from China’s Communists


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.

Philippines: Massive Party Switching Towards President Duterte’s Coalition for Change


Partyforumseasia: Political parties in the Philippines are known for their volatility. Not that parties are much more stable in other countries in the region, at least as long as they are not in power and don’t have much money to offer. Party hopping and offering positions to rich candidates are quite common in Southeast Asia, ideology and programs are not important, but that is increasingly true in Western democracies as well.
AntsDuterteAquino

The presidential system of the Philippines has developed a unique and smooth ritual once the new president has been elected. As everywhere, politicians scramble for positions, but 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. And at the same time the party switchers retain the perks they are used to. President Jokowi of Indonesia could not even dream of such a smooth transition.
CamelionThe changes look dramatic with the underlying figures: The Liberal Party (LP) more than tripled its presence in congress with the election of president Aquino in 2010. According to Asiasentinel, 17 June (LINK) between 80 and 90 of its 110 MP’s are prepared to join Duterte’s PDP-Laban party. Outgoing house speaker and LP vice chair Feliciano Belmonte declares that the Liberals will eventually coalesce with what president elect Duterte calls the Coalition for Change. His policy priorities, a federal system, fighting crime and corruption, and re-introduction of capital punishment, should easily find support in the congress. After Duterte’s tough crime buster talk during the election campaign, anticipatory obedience seems to set in already among the police. Since the election 42 suspected drug pushers have been killed in shootouts with the police. But what the president elect has promised, eradicating drug related crime within six months, remains a tall order.