Centrist Democracy Political Institute - Items filtered by date: April 2024

Second of 3 parts

LAST week's column cited three crimes involving powerful people: former president Rodrigo Duterte, former congressman and deputy speaker Arnulfo Teves Jr., and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy. These high-profile criminal cases have international implications, but they don't matter. Their local deleterious political repercussions have more importance. And considering how the wheels of justice in this country turn and grind slowly, based on similar cases involving the high and mighty, I estimate that social and mass media will determine a short life expectancy until the next controversy supersedes. And out of the public glare, our dysfunctional system intrudes, and in the end, nothing happens. These three would most probably go scot-free, and Philippine jurisprudence will be none the worse for wear. The man in the street will speculate why. Na politika na naman!

Deegong and Quiboloy cases

It is now obvious that the continued investigation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) cases when BBM said he was studying the Philippines' return to the ICC fold triggered Duterte's ire that is now tearing the UniTeam and the political firmament apart. The Philippines under Duterte withdrew from the international tribunal in 2019 after he questioned its authority to investigate his campaign against illegal drugs that killed thousands of Filipinos. The Marcoses, upon BBM's assumption of the presidency, were then fully behind this move. But BBM's reversal was the Damocles sword held over the former president's head, the red line BBM can't cross, sparking vituperative statements calling BBM "bangag," a dope addict, with his two sons artlessly joining the chorus excepting the daughter, Sara, who did not exactly stay in the sidelines — a fact that riled the first lady.

No doubt the cavalier treatment by the Marcos camp of VP Sara, stripping her of intelligence funds from which a substantial portion traditionally and anomalously could be diverted to future campaign funds, to the very public snub by the first lady Liza of Sara added fuel to the political fire now raging between the two political dynasties. Political cognoscenti and pundits see these as the opening gambits for the mid-term elections in 2025 and the ultimate 2028 presidential elections.

As to the powerful ally of the Dutertes, Pastor Quiboloy and his media empire, the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), may go the way of a similar Duterte bete noire, the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN. SMNI's disenfranchisement is now going through the wringer in Congress, orchestrated by the powerful Marcos relative, House Speaker Martin Romualdez — the not-so-apparent heir to the Marcos political dynasty. The ASOG Quiboloy likewise has a deadly cloud of uncertainty hovering over his head with his possible extradition to America over a multitude of cases being investigated by the US FBI of rape, child molestation, cash smuggling, and laundering. Urban legend suggests the ASOG may be hiding in plain sight in Davao, protected by his Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church (KOJC) — his and Duterte's bailiwick, where even the uniformed authorities must look the other way. Then again, the finale to all these is substantially in the hands of President Marcos. But politics is the underlying condition upon which these may be resolved.

The case of the ex-congressman

It could be different with ex-congressman Arnulfo Teves Jr. Compared to the previous two; he is a small fish in a pond now undergoing the process of expulsion from Timor-Leste from where he was arrested, living the good life of a rich fugitive. He is not too high up in the national political totem pole to become a headache for the Marcoses, but his clan in the Visayas could prove to be invaluable in Negros Oriental and Visayas politics as he can boast of a distinguished bloodline: former Negros Oriental governors 'Meniong' and Lorenzo Teves, former finance secretary Margarito Teves, brother and former governor Pryde Henry Teves (his election was annulled by Comelec), and assorted local government (LGU) mayors and minor elective officials. These are bargaining chips in our type of transactional politics.

From where we sit, the resolution of these cases depends not so much on Philippine jurisprudence and the fairness of our justice system but on the exigencies and realities and how the pragmatism of politics will unfold these coming months. And these are the prevailing conditions by which this country is now being perceived by our neighbors and tragically even by our own citizenry and which right-thinking Pinoys should be ashamed of.

Will the Deegong be brought to face the ICC and answer for his transgressions — if any — and satisfy the demands of families of the thousands of victims reportedly killed during his regime? I doubt it! He is too politically powerful and has enough clout to prevent being arrested, even if a warrant of arrest comes from the ICC. Currently, he has maintained his high popularity with the Filipino masses, and a substantial portion of the elected senators and congressmen owe him fealty. For the mid-term elections of 2025, he ranks a high second place in the senatorial preference surveys, according to the polls conducted by Publicus Asia. And among those senators who could win, more than half are his minions and allies.

Can he be arrested in Davao? And by whom? The ICC has no police powers or an independent mechanism to enforce arrest warrants and depends solely on the host countries' judiciary systems. Reportedly, ICC judges have issued 40 such warrants in 22 years of existence, and 15 of those to be arrested remain at large. Vladimir Putin himself has an ICC-issued warrant of arrest.

The same may be true with the Deegong's ally, Pastor Quiboloy, as far as his cases in America are concerned. He may not be easily extradited to the US despite the FBI labeling him "wanted in America." He has too many powerful friends elected to the Senate and and the House through the captive votes of his church with a claimed membership running to the millions, not to mention the tax-free millions of church funds under his control. He has boasted that his assets are in the billions of US dollars. And he has the protection of his newly appointed KOJC assets "encargado" — the Deegong himself.

Yes, he could be arrested for the local criminal charges against him, but prosecuting him through the cracks of the Philippine justice system would almost be next to impossible — the reason why he fears the US CIA rendition.

What is imperative for the country is the need for the presidency to display moral ascendancy with a clearly defined agenda to effect change using one's political capital exhibiting political will. It doesn't give the citizenry much confidence and the leadership much credibility when, for example, it is challenged by a former speaker, Pantaleon Alvarez, the Deegong's ally, calling for the military to withdraw support from a legitimate government. And BBM does nothing!

We boast of being the first truly democratic country in Asia when America first planted its system of governance and the underlying concepts of republicanism and democracy, where we uphold the rule of law. Perhaps it is high time to review these standards for their continued relevancy.

Published in LML Polettiques

First of 3 parts

THREE high-profile cases with international implications are the backdrop for this series on Philippine politics and jurisprudence. These are not run-of-the-mill types, as they involve powerful persons. However, they are not only cautionary tales but also reflections of the kind of justice system that defines the rule of law as applied to Philippine governance.

Fugitive ex-congressman

First is the case of Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr., who was involved in a ghastly crime caught on CCTV and went viral on social and mass media, exacerbated by the insipid response of government authorities. Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo was murdered in broad daylight on March 2023, along with some of his people, at his residential compound. The congressman, a political rival, was accused of being behind the assassination, although he was out of the country days before Degamo's murder.

A public hearing by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs ensued, incongruously labeling Teves a terrorist, though he has not even been charged with any crime.

The House Ethics Committee subsequently held seven closed-door hearings since the killing to tackle Teves' case but merely slapped a 60-day suspension order twice, a cavalier treatment by his colleagues, while Teves was already romping free abroad and gone AWOL, refusing to come home to face the music. Eventually, he was expelled from Congress and charged in court five months after the deed, by which time he had evaded justice and was practically allowed by the system to fly the coop.

Only a year after the murder was Teves finally arrested in Dili, Timor-Leste, while absurdly playing golf. His apprehension was a joint operation of the International Police's (Interpol) National Central Bureau (NCB) in Dili and the Timorese police. Teves was on Interpol's red notice alert, requiring member states to cooperate to collar a miscreant abroad. Teves couldn't be spirited out of Timor-Leste as he used all legal remedies to seek political asylum, which was denied. The Philippines has no extradition treaty with Timor-Leste, but both are signatories to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (Untoc), which could provide a framework for extradition. But a faster way was initiated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) by canceling his passport, rendering his stay in Timor-Leste illegal and subjecting him to immediate deportation.

Fugitive 'Appointed Son of God'

The second case involves Pastor Quiboloy, who now has three arrest warrants to his name: one issued by a grandstanding Senate committee for having snubbed the chamber's investigations on his alleged sexual abuses in his ministry; one issued by a Davao court for violation of Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; and a third one by a Pasig trial court on qualified human trafficking charges. A non-bailable offense, this will bring him directly to a prison cell once apprehended.

On top of this, he is a wanted fugitive — with several other co-accused members of his church — by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud, coercion, sex trafficking of children and cash smuggling.

But in all of this, Quiboloy, while in hiding, had the gall to demand from President Marcos, Justice Secretary Remulla, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil, and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Medardo de Lemos ironclad guarantees that he not be surrendered to the Americans. He has oftentimes alleged that US authorities have intentions to kidnap or kill him rather than extradite him for trial in an American court.

Quiboloy also claimed without an iota of proof that BBM had already agreed and therefore conspired with the Americans to hand him over to them once in custody, embellishing the tale further by saying that the CIA has arranged for his rendition — a process of illegal transfer, a scheme used to protect the façade of the cherished American justice system (Islamic terrorists were "renditioned" to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for in-depth interrogation — a euphemism for waterboarding and torture).

As a repartee in a more dramatic fashion, he plays well as a deluded faux martyr; "Unless you give me the guarantee I'm looking for, go ahead and manhunt me. I will not be caught alive!" Quiboloy declared.

Of course, BBM will not oblige. And in a restrained adult response, chastising a child in a tantrum: "We will exercise all the compassion to Pastor Quiboloy; we've known him for a very long time. What I can promise is that all the proceedings will be fair."

Quiboloy's dread is similar to why South American drug lords like the Columbian Pablo Escobar fear extradition to the US. They can't buy or blow their way out of American jails. Escobar intimidated the Colombian government into agreeing to build, at his own expense, his palatial prison — exclusive to him and his cohorts in crime.

And witness the Philippines' overcrowded New Bilibid Prison, where the rich inmates live in luxurious apartment-like kubols protected by a patron or bosyo, top boss inmates with their own servants or "alalay." ("Understanding the Conditions of New Bilibid Prisons: Implications for Integrated Reforms, R.E. Narag, PhD, Southern Illinois University). The ASOG, with his resources, will thrive in such surroundings.

The US Embassy in Manila may not be so cryptic about its intentions either, stating: "For more than a decade, Apollo Quiboloy engaged in serious human rights abuses, including a pattern of systemic and pervasive rape of girls as young as 11 years old, and he is currently on the FBI's Most Wanted List. We are confident that Quiboloy will face justice for his heinous crimes." (Rappler.com, April 6, 2024)

The Deegong and the ICC

The third case involves former President Duterte Quiboloy's close friend, and now the "encargado" of his properties, who has pending cases in the International Court of Justice (ICC) on the killings of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) while he was Davao City mayor, and the war-on-drugs killings during his term as president.

If the ICC issues an arrest warrant against Duterte — which the Deegong is sure is coming — the big question is how the Philippines can enforce such a warrant when the country is no longer a member of the ICC.

But the ICC has an agreement with Interpol (similar to ex-congressman Teves' case). The ICC can also request that the subjects of its warrant Interpol can now request that its 196 member countries cooperate and be put on the red notice alert. If that happens for Duterte, Interpol can now request its 196 member countries to cooperate and possibly arrest and detain Duterte on their behalf.

And there are precedents of notorious individuals, heads of state and political leaders accused of similar crimes, investigated by the ICC and some prosecuted: Omar al-Bashiir, president of Sudan; Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Ivory Coast; Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, president and deputy president of Kenya; and Bosco Ntaganda, a former rebel leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others.

How will all this impact the Philippine political landscape and, more importantly, our justice system and the rule of law?

(To be continued next week)

Published in LML Polettiques
Thursday, 11 April 2024 08:53

The olipolidyn-polpat genesis

Last of 3 parts

PRIOR to Spain's arrival, our islands were populated by indigenous settlements and villages called barangay, headed by local chieftains, a datu, assisted by a council of elders — maginoo, or local nobility — who helped in decision-making and governance. The people under this system were the maharlika (generally the warrior class) and the commoners known as timawa — freemen, who had limited rights and were obligated to provide labor and resources to the datu in exchange for protection and security.

In a system of serfdom, the alipin rendered services and labor under a complex system of obligations: alipin namamahay, paid servants, were housed within the premises of the people they served, and alipin saguiguilid were the unpaid servants. These are forerunners of our current kasambahay (maids and yaya), and not a system of slavery, later introduced by our Spanish colonizers through the encomienda system.

The datu oversaw a few hundred kindred subjects composing a stable sociopolitical unit. Leadership was hierarchical. Authority and power were concentrated in the hands of the datu and maginoo. His ascendancy was based on lineage, wealth and ability to provide for his community. A centralized, unified government structure over the entire archipelago was nonexistent. The villages were decentralized.

The 300 years of Spanish colonization, the introduction of a bureaucracy and the influx of the Catholic Church hierarchy evolved a semblance of centralized government, eroding the preeminence of the datu and the ruling class on top of the social order.

Decision, decision-making and morality

The colonial regime eventually converted the polity into its instrument for governing the territory, collecting taxes and keeping the peace — all in the name of the Spanish crown. The original pre-colonial bonds between social classes, maginoo, maharlika, timawa and alipin, primitively feudal but a perfectly working arrangement, were eroded and eventually broken, their nature transformed by Spanish fiat.

American tutelage

The imposition of another system of governance piggy-backed on these traditional bonds further altered the character of the rulers and the ruled. Filipinas was America's first colony, and these baby steps at colonization were a trial-and-error. For instance, America, whose people take pride in their individual freedoms, injected democracy and republicanism, particularly the idea of representative government, bypassing the cultural and political practices and roles of the datu and maginoo.

"Filipino aristocracy" was never subscribed to by either Spanish or American colonizers, effectively dismantling the structure. But the cultural imprint of centuries of clan interrelationship was indelible, where the clan heads/patrons were expected to perform their traditional roles, providing protection and even livelihood to their clansmen. The patrons, therefore, had to accumulate the wherewithal, wealth, and political power to perform these obligations and tasks. Driven to preserve their prerogatives, patronage politics (polpat) began to take root.

America introduced alien institutions like the three co-equal branches of government, further complicating traditional governance. Yet, what was structurally imposed was a far cry from the American system itself. Instead of a federal structure suitable for diverse clans proliferating in the islands, a unitary system of government headed by a president was instituted. But the most glaring defect of the presidential system is that this became the embryo upon which patronage politics was centralized, nurtured and dispensed.

When we claimed full sovereignty from America after the commonwealth period, the traditional patronage system was structurally ingrained as a systemic anomaly buttressed by the 1935 Constitution. Thus, it was bequeathed to our Philippine presidents the role of the top patron, reaching its apex during the Marcos Sr. years. The dictator elevated patronage politics, practiced to perfection during the martial law years, when "crony capitalism" came into our political lexicon. To hold on to power, patrons and padrino could dip their dirty fingers into the public coffers — thus, a new sub-species of the oligarchy appeared in the glossary, "kleptocracy."

And in our presidential system, where the president, the most powerful position in government is elected at large, he is expected to provide the resources for an expensive election campaign. This opens an aperture for the oligarchy and the moneyed elite, which was coming into its own, to influence the outcome.

And this goes down to all levels of governance. Today, polpat has become more pervasive, fomenting corruption. Our electoral processes, for instance, are the overarching environment upon which political patronage incubates.

With the constitutionally mandated term limits of elective officials, the desire for continuity in office easily morphs into a deviant model of "public service as a private business," becoming a strong impetus toward the perpetuation of this power base — thus the need for the patron/clan head to pass this on to wife, husband, children or relatives. This assures the family control over its portion of the local government unit, seeding public elective or appointive positions of power with blood kin. Thus, the flowering of "political dynasties" ("Presidential system, patronage politics and political dynasties," The Manila Times, March 28, 2018).

Oligarchy, political dynasty (olipolidyn) intertwine

In the Philippine setting, the oligarchy, as defined, refers to certain large private multi-businesses, some of whose wealth can be traced back to the Spanish colonizers. Some sources of wealth were gifted to families from Catholic friar lands for their services to the crown (encomienda).

Growing over time, this wealth is passed on to the next generations. Many of these businesses started as monopolies and continue to the present time. But many indubitably grew out of sheer hard work by founders, gifted with talent and the ability to convert opportunities into wealth creation.

But to exist, survive and flourish, they needed to acquire and possess political power to protect their economic clout. In the present context, political power is acquired through a legitimizing process of elections, perverted or otherwise.

This marriage of interests between the oligarchy and political dynasty blurs the line between economic and political power accumulation, resulting in several phenomena with grievous consequences.

First, encroaching directly into the political mainstream, political parties are created or captured. Cases in point (read part 2 of the series, TMT, April 3, 2024): The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) of the late Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, Jr., now under successor Ramon Ang; the National Unity Party (NUP), chaired and funded by Enrique Razon Jr.; and the Nacionalista Party (NP) of billionaire and former senator Manny Villar.

Party-list system

The second phenomenon is the travesty of the party-list system. Originally a political innovation patterned after European party lists to give broader voice to the "non-political" sector of society — the farmers, fisherfolk, labor, peasants, etc. — the purpose of which was to democratize the lower house of Congress which the oligarchy and the political dynasties had co-opted. What was meant to allow one-fifth of the lower house greater democratic representation was instead perverted by the oligarchy and the political dynasties by installing family members as party-list representatives. Today, the party list has become an adjunct to the twin evils of Philippine politics — the olipolidyn.

The seeds of the oligarchy and political dynasty (olipolidyn) on the fertile soil of political patronage (polpat) germinated during those centuries on Spanish and American influence and now have grown in their full glory.

Politics in the Philippines as a family business is thriving.

Published in LML Polettiques
MANILA, Philippines— Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has filed a bill providing for a system of people’s initiative and referendum that will cover the system for constitutional amendments.

Filed late last week, Pimentel’s Senate Bill No. 2595 also seeks to penalize a person who gives, offers or promises money in exchange for people’s initiative signatures.

In filing the bill, the senator cited a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that found Republic Act (RA) No. 6735 known as the “Initiative and Referendum Act” inadequate to cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution.

The same ruling cited the law’s failure “to provide sufficient standards for subordinate legislation on the part of the Commission on Elections,” the senator said.

“As a measure to not only fill in the gaps found in R.A. No. 6735 but to also update the system of people’s initiative and referendum to reflect present-day political conditions, it is proper that this bill be introduced as a new measure, rather than an amendment to the existing law,” he said in his explanatory note in the bill.

“This measure introduces as well penal provisions against the commission of prohibited acts connected to the conduct of initiative and referendum.”

“Making reference to the punishable acts of the Omnibus Election Code and other election laws, this measure ensures the sanctity of direct democracy just as our election laws ensure the sanctity of the ballot,” the opposition leader further said.

The conduct of a people’s initiative is one of the three modes of amending the 1987 Constitution.

Under Pimentel’s bill, the people’s initiative will commence upon the filing of a verified petition with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The petition should contain the following, among others:

• Complete name, address and personal circumstances of the petitioners
• The complete text of the proposed amendments to the Constitution
• The reason/s therefor
• The signature sheet signed by at least 12 percent of the total number of registered voter, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least 3 percent of the registered voters therein
• The starting date when the signatures were collected

Within 90 days from receipt of the petition, the Comelec shall determine the sufficiency in form and substance of the petition and verify the number of signatures and their authenticity.

“The decision of the Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court by a special civil action for certiorari,” the bill said.
The Comelec, according to the bill, will set the date of the plebiscite not earlier than 60 days but not later than 90 days from its certification of the petition.

The measure also provides for the procedures on how to pass or reject a law through initiative and referendum.

In addition to acts already penalized under existing laws, the bill likewise seeks to penalize any person “who gives, offers, or promises money or anything of value, any office or employment, franchise or grant…” in exchange for the PI signature.

A jail term of up to nine years is being proposed under the measure.

“If the same is committed by a public officer, the penalty shall not be less than 9 years and one day but not more than 12 years, and forfeiture of all benefits with perpetual disqualification from public office,” the bill further added.

Other prohibited acts with corresponding penalties were also enumerated in the proposed legislation.

The filing of Pimentel’s bill came at a time Congress is discussing amendments to specific economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Published in News

Second of 3 parts

In this malevolent triumvirate version of the Philippine Deep State, the oligarchy and the political dynasty (Olipolidyn) acquire certain permanency and continuity that supersede the third component, those who are constitutionally term-limited, like the president/patron, although the latter's temporal powers have deadly immediate and irreparable consequences when applied. Witness President Duterte causing the downfall of the Lopez family by disenfranchising its flagship ABS-CBN; marginalizing the Rufino-Prieto clan, owners of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) and who for years were accused of "swindling" the government of billions of pesos for the "illegal" use of the Mile Long complex, a 6.2-hectare Makati property; and Roberto Ongpin's PhilWeb that was forcibly sold for a song to Gregorio Araneta, an erstwhile Duterte supporter and a relative of the Marcoses by marriage.

The Olipolidyn, two different faces of the same coin, if not allied to a sitting strong presidency/patron, may encounter temporary setbacks. But the more dominant partner, the oligarchy, with its vast resources, will always attempt to exert influence over the political dynasties, the running of the Philippine economy, the lifeblood of the country, and, by extension, the levers of government.

Democracy and republicanism

The defective Philippine political structure is predisposed toward rectifying any imbalance ultimately in favor of the oligarchy, tending to concentrate political power on a few as we govern ourselves, a derivative of our cultural and political history forged over the centuries.

The American colonialists introduced republicanism and democracy, the idea of a State, checks and balances, political parties, a constitution, and the subsidiary idea of popular sovereignty, where authority is derived from the consent of the governed, among others. These concepts were overlaid on the Spanish/European 'divine right of kings,' which view was itself piggy-backed on the original Filipino sultanate/datu system of governance. (This will be discussed further in part 3 next week.)

Briefly, republicanism emphasizes a system of government where the head of state (the top patron) and the political leadership are chosen by the people based on their qualifications and merits and perforce is accountable to them. And democracy highlights the idea that government authority should be based on the will of the people and the rule of law rather than by divine right. Further refinements are that the citizenry indirectly participates in decision-making through democracy's most sacrosanct held belief — voting in elections, notwithstanding the necessary precondition that the voters must be educated and discriminating enough to choose from a menu of yet another inviolable doctrine — ideologically differentiated political parties.

These are ideas alien to the Spanish-indoctrinated Filipino natives where for 300 years, authority derived from the rightfulness and legitimacy of the sword and the cross, which in turn had already eroded and perverted the original Filipino patriarchal reliance on native sultans and datus.

These are the evolving anomalous realities over the centuries leading to our homegrown Filipino mongrelized oligarchy, the political dynasties (Olipolidyn), and the top patron underpinned by the iniquities of political patronage (Polpat). These are structured toward the accumulation and concentration of political power.

Political parties and their co-optation

As a class, the Philippine oligarchy, though not itself elected, vies for political power by fielding its own members, co-opt or capturing existing ones, or creating its own political parties. As intended by the dictates of democracy and republicanism, "Political parties are the primary vehicles to gain political power by engaging themselves in political contests, primarily elections. The members and their leadership are expected to adhere to a set of principles and strategies written in a platform unique to that party. This espousal of a vision of governance defines the ideological identity of that party - and therefore, the electorate must be permitted a patent choice - as to who must govern them based on what the candidates and their respective parties stand for." (www.cdpi.asia, CDP/CDM/CDPI manuals)

The oligarchy understands this only too well, and attempts at perverting the whole concept to conform to their interest have been pervasive and, thus far, successful. A case in point is three currently existing ones.

The Nacionalista Party (NP), the oldest Philippine political party founded in 1907, was captured and funded by the real estate magnate and former House speaker Manny Villar, one of the country's richest businessmen when he ran unsuccessfully for the 2010 presidency. The NP subsequently propelled his wife, Cynthia, to be the No. 1 senator in the 2013 elections, with the son, Mark, conveniently ensconced as secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in 2016 under President Duterte. Mark is now a senator in a mother-son tandem, with the NP's four sitting senators comprising 16.675 percent of the 24-member senate. Daughter Camille is the current deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. The NP has 38 congressmen.

The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) was founded in 1992 by the late Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. when he ran for president and lost. He was one of the few politically savvy oligarchs who was the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos' protégée. The NPC is now under the tutelage of Danding's subaltern, who is now a self-made billionaire, Ramon Ang (RSA). The NPC can boast five senators, 20.83 percent)of the 24-member Senate, 38 members in the lower house, and then-presidential and assorted local government executives (LGUs).

The National Unity Party (NUP) is funded by another billionaire of Spanish heritage and large holdings abroad, Ricky Razon. The NUP was allied with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) but later joined PNoy's coalition in 2013, while its other elected members allied with another, the United Alliance (UNA) of then-presidential candidate VP Jojo Binay. NUP counts 38 congressmen in the 316-member House.

The absence of ideologically differentiated political parties and the proliferation of hundreds of single-issue party lists are quirks of the 1987 Cory Constitution, allowing political butterflies or turncoatis ("balimbings") to flourish.

The Olipolidyn are not monolithic and often are pitted against each other, but their goal is the advancement of their private agenda — all under the guise of serving the common good — the pursuit and attainment of power and wealth, the mortar that cements some sort of permanency.

Olipolidyn on local political dynamics

Politicians, whether "wannabes" or incumbents, spend millions of pesos to gain the support of their constituents. As a result, a major consideration of the elected public servants is to recoup their expenditures through all sorts of "rent-seeking activities," leakages in public funds and outright corruption — to the detriment of society's development and public good.

And in our presidential system, where the president, the top patron, is elected at large, he is expected to provide the wherewithal for an expensive election campaign. This opens an aperture for the oligarchy and the moneyed elite to influence the outcome.

To understand better our homegrown oligarchy and political dynasty (Olipolidyn) and their relations with the presidency/patron, the Philippines' rough equivalent of America's Deep State and its role in our lives, we go back to its historical beginnings. Part 3 reprints excerpts from my columns and articles and literature of the Centrist Democratic groups over the years. A particularly relevant item is the "Political dynasty handmaiden to oligarchy" (The Manila Times, Aug. 5, 2020).

Published in LML Polettiques