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"My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins." These are words from the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth, Manuel L.

Quezon, who led the country between 1935 to 1944. Our political parties in the Philippines have really been weak. Today, they are weaker.

They have lost their soul. The days of honor and glory are over.

Public service is now attributed to the dreams of avarice. Political parties in their true sense have died.

You see politicians easily hopping from one party to another. How irritating! Where have their party vision, principles, platforms and constituencies gone? How can Juan Dela Cruz decide on who to vote for the changes or improvements he wants to see in government? Politicians are simply riding on the brand, popularity and finances of the new coalitions.

Once they're in and win, they abandon the goals expressed by the party. The "balimbings" have made a more conscious effort to lookout for sure-win parties.

They would use all the charm and wit and do everything in their capacity to be part of the more popular party or simply a party that will welcome them. Records show that the first Philippine political party was the Federal Party.

It was established in 1900. Next came the Nationalist Party (NP) and the Democratic Party. However, this did not lead to the creation of a two-party system because the Nationalists were in control and the Democrats remained a "loyal opposition.

" It was only after the Japanese occupation and the granting of independence that an effective two-party system the Liberal Party (LP) and the Nacionalista Party (NP) was developed. Then came the Progressive Party, formed in 1957 by supporters of Ramon Magsaysay.

Of course, how can we forget Marcos' Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) that won in the 1980 and 1982 balloting for local officials. The principal opposition party then was the Lakas ng Bayan (Laban), led by Benigno Aquino Jr.

, until his assassination in 1983. This party joined with 11 other opposition parties in 1982 to form a coalition known as the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). Following Aquino's death, some 50 opposition groups, including the members of UNIDO coalition, agreed to coordinate their anti-Marcos efforts.

This coalition of opposition parties enabled Corazon Aquino to campaign against Marcos in 1986. When we regained democracy in 1986, President Corazon Aquino convened a constitutional commission to write a new constitution for the Philippines. But this constitution did not specify the placement of a two-party system.

She formally organized the Lakas ng Bayan, which became the major party in the country when they swept the polls in the congressional elections of May 1987. On May 1989, Juan Ponce Enrile reestablished the Nacionalista Party. Partido Pilipino was organized in 1991 as an opposition party.

On August 26, 1994, then president Fidel Ramos announced a new political coalition that would produce the most powerful political group in the Philippines: the Lakas-National Union of Christian Democrats (Lakas/NUCD) teamed up with the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Laban. After the 1995 elections, more political parties and coalitions were established: Laban ng Masang Pilipino, led by presidential candidate, Joseph Estrada Lakas LP and Aksyon Demokratiko among others.

In 2002, political parties and their leaders included: Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (New Society Movement), led by Imelda Marcos Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Struggle of Filipino Democrats) or LDP, led by Edgardo Angara Lakas, led by Jose de Venecia Liberal Party or LP, led by Florencio Abad Nacionalista Party, led by Jose Oliveros Nationalist People's Coalition or NPC, led by Eduardo Cojuangco PDP-Laban, led by Aquilino Pimentel and the People's Reform Party or PRP, led by Miriam Defensor Santiago. From then on, until today, we see the birth of more political parties in the country.

Groups like Akbayan and later the Bayan Muna, and other party-list organizations have been created to ensure equal representation of the marginalized sector of society. Unfortunately, the party-list system doesn't seem to be effective.

Based on certificates of nomination gathered by ABS-CBN's Investigative and Research Group for the May 2019 elections, there are 49 party-list nominees from political families ndash or families that have produced more than one elected or appointed official. If their parties will get the required number of votes, these nominees could occupy 83 percent of the 59 party-list seats in the 18th Congress.

It must also be noted that in a study conducted by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center in the 16th Congress in 2013, about 25 percent of party-list representatives belonged to political dynasties. Obviously, the party-list is being used by those who want to stay in power.

Sanamagan! The Commission on Elections last month released the certified list of candidates for party-list in the upcoming May elections. Over 180 party-lists initially filed their respective certificates of candidacy including those with pending motions for reconsideration but only 134 was approved.

The nine major parties who have fielded their candidates for the May elections are: Liberal Party (LP), United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Nacionalista Party (NP), Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), Partido Demokratiko Pilipino ndash Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), Aksyon Demokratiko, and the National Unity Party (NUP). There is also the opposition party Otso Diretso whose request to debate with their rivals from the administration's Hugpong ng Pagbabago was rejected by the Comelec.

Candidates run under a political party to help them build their campaigns. In an ideal situation, these parties should support the candidates' beliefs so that the proper programs and platforms are created for the electorate.

Sadly, this is not the case in our political system. The office of the Ombudsman wrote in a primer made for the Political Party Development Act, (whatever happened to it?), "One major factor that makes our political parties weak is the dependence of political parties on personalities rather than on issues and political platforms.

Traditional politicians only use political parties as financial vehicles to win elections." And since most of our political parties are patronage-ridden and personality-oriented, they are not able to educate the electorate.

This then, becomes a problem because the electorate ends up voting for the wrong person who usually belongs to the party dominated by those with the machinery and capacity to win. In the coming Mid-Term elections, those who are with the administration team are bound to seize control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Our current political parties have no backbone. Our politicos seem to only think about their own survival in their cruel world, having no political ideology whatsoever.

And mind you, such behavior becomes a hindrance in the development of this nation. This is why there is no progress in our country.

To make matters worse, majority of our electorate lack the knowledge to make an informed decision. They are blinded by the pseudo-promises.

They are mesmerized by the looks and firm handshakes, not knowing that they are being lured into the lion's den only to be awakened by empty promises and broken dreams.
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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Mar 10, 2019
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