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The next election is still eons away, but looking at the maneuverings and posturing by politicians today, at this hour, one would think it’s just around the corner. The political pot is boiling.
Indication that the political season has already begun is the frenzy of meetings and powwows and huddles and caucuses that political players are currently busying themselves with — securing ties, forging alliances, marking out friends (read: financiers), isolating foes, and upping visibility. The operative term for the goal sought by the current game of politicians is political realignment.
William Safire, who makes a living as political lexicographer, defines political alignments as a convergence of like-minded political players in the common spot (party, coalition) to better and more effectively pursue their common ideals.
Realignment simply means the old has been discarded because it’s no longer effective, while the new is being adopted because it offers richer opportunity and brighter potential for power. Safire’s view on political alignments runs into trouble when set side by side with realities in the Philippines.
Homegrown politicians pursue disparate agenda and goals, not common ideals. Self-interest does not remain constant; it keeps changing and morphing to conform to the convenience of the hour and of individual ambitions.
This is not to say that political alignments are bad per se. All I am saying is that the realignment now in progress in the local and political arena is not something new. It is an indelible part of our political culture. And all I wish to state is this: however grating to the ears political realignments may sound they produce some quiet positive and happy results.
Wake-up call for LP
Let us talk about the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), the coalition of Vice President Binay’s PDP-Laban and former President Erap’s Pwersa ng Masa. This produced an entity of unimaginable political strength which even the party in power may be hard put to match. But it has also produced one happy fruit — at least for the administration.
The birth of UNA serves as a wake-up call for Malacañang to mend its political fences. Or else its candidates would land, to use an informal Tagalog phrase, sa kangkungan in next year’s midterm polls.
What shortcomings and faults should the leadership of the party in power look for, in self-audit, and aggressively address before it loses more members through realignment or desertion?
Although out of active politics I continue to interact with political leaders in our vaunted solid North and with former colleagues in Congress, and the prevailing perception is that the aura of invincibility of the party in power is starting to dim.
This could explain why the well-meaning but now marginalized former political supporters of President Noynoy are aligning themselves with other forces, boldly preparing for electoral battles in 2013 and all the way to 2016.
Of the threats to the political hegemony of the Liberal Party – which party leaders have tried to downplay – the most serious and formidable UNA. The irony of it all is that UNA would not have come into being were it not for the arrogance and insensitivity of the Liberal Party leadership.
In words and in deeds the Liberals rub Noynoy’s partisans the wrong way, crowing from rooftops that they alone made Noynoy win the presidency — leaving not even the littlest of crumbs of praise and recognition to people who spent time, effort and personal resources to ensure Noynoy’s victory because they had faith in the man and his Daang Matuwid mantra.
These very same people, disappointed and made to feel unwanted by PNoy’s close-in advisers, will end up disillusioned and ignored.
My reservation about the realignments is that you could get realigned with a group which harbors somebody you absolutely detest or are allergic to. Koko Pimentel, for example, is squeamish about running under the same senatorial slate with Migs Zubiri who re-aligned himself from the party of GMA to UNA, coalition partner of Pimentel’s PDP-Laban. Loren Legarda was a staunch critic of Manny Villar but she swallowed her pride and realigned herself with Villar’s party to become his running mate in the 2010 elections.
Many other cases of realignments make strange bedfellows of personalities with irreconcilable traits, beliefs and political records. Expect more of this as election draws near.
In regions and provinces ruled by political dynasties, expect families to tie up with various political groups. In short, if there are 5 politicians in the family they will most likely be aligned with 5 political parties.
I don’t think the Corona impeachment is a factor in the UNA coalition movement. Binay is a shrewd and battle-tested politician. The impeachment proceeding is a non-issue in the consolidation of a formidable coalition base.
Mind you guys, it’s more fun in the Philippines – if you are in politics! – Rappler.com
(Mr Lumauig is former governor and congressman of Ifugao. For comments, email him at email@example.com)