Two wings of the PDP-Laban: 1992 presidential elections - lost opportunities Manila Bulletin

Two wings of the PDP-Laban: 1992 presidential elections - lost opportunities Featured

Second of a series

THE PDP-Laban was part of the Corazon "Cory" Aquino ruling coalition in 1986, but a small segment, principally coming from Davao, Bohol and some Muslim areas, was opposed to the 1987 Constitution. Our group wanted Cory to extend her presidency beyond 1992 under a "revolutionary government," using an amended version of the March 25, 1986, Proclamation 3, adopting a Provisional Constitution. We felt the remnants of the Marcos government could successfully engineer a comeback while our fledgling democracy was still finding its footing; and the decades of the pre-martial law structures and traditional politics, buttressed by the clout of the old and new oligarchs and political dynasties, needed to be dismantled. The disparity between the rich and the poor was growing wider, and poverty alleviation was nowhere in sight. The core tenets of PDP-Laban were shunted aside by Cory: parliamentary government (adherents were narrowly defeated in the 1987 Constitutional Convention); the institutionalization of real political parties; the banning of political dynasties; and federalism, declaring she was not doing a Marcos - ruling by presidential decrees. She would restore democracy - however nebulous her concept of it was. In hindsight, the Philippines lost a rare opportunity for a systemic restructuring. Instead, she opted for a cosmetic facelift by just replacing overstaying Marcos local government officials within the same government structures with officers in charge (OIC) - a task assigned to the Interior and Local Government Secretary Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. (I was his undersecretary tasked to implement the OICs on the ground).

Cory's distaste for politics

Those were tumultuous years, 1986-1992, under this convent-bred saintly president - a tyro in the world of politics although married (and widowed) to a compleat traditional politico - who did not herself believe in political parties. She had no taste for politics, relying instead on advisers from the Catholic Church hierarchy, a smattering of Ninoy's political colleagues, personalities from the oligarchy, and the old moneyed political elite from whence she sprung and whose values she shared. She was in some ways a captive of her class. More importantly, she relied heavily on her close relatives, foremost among which was her Rasputin of a brother who held sway over the PDP-Laban as secretary general - Jose "Peping" Cojuangco.

But we were still hopeful that she would transcend this with the outpouring of love and adulation shown by the masses - whose values were not congruent with hers. But we were no match for the ruling class. Cory surrendered her prerogatives for real socioeconomic-political reforms by rejecting the people's gift - the 1986 Revolutionary Constitution. She then proceeded to embed her dogma in her 1987 Constitution that her son, President Benigno "PNoy" Aquino 3rd, vowed "not one of its comma be altered" during his regime.

'A Fragmented Political Coalition' (excerpts)

"The refusal of President Cory to run for another term (legitimate) under the new Constitution portended an open melee among her fragile EDSA People Power coalition. Among the contenders as Cory's successor, Speaker Ramon 'Monching' Mitra was the heavy favorite. An erstwhile PDP-Laban stalwart, and a Pimentel competitor, Mitra had the backing of President Cory's brother and the majority of the congressmen. But his image as the epitome of trapo was pervasive. In contrast, Fidel Ramos, now Secretary of Defense, was the 'non-politician' whose role as Cory's protector and the People Power hero - in the process rehabilitating himself from among the Marcos originals - was a huge positive albeit lacking a party machinery. He was enticed by Mitra to join the newly created Laban Democratic Party (LDP) and naively agreed for the convention to decide on one candidate. Mitra was chosen, whereupon Ramos bolted LDP and formed his Lakas-Tao, merging instead with Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus' NUCD, which provided the Christian Democrat ideology. FVR won the presidency and governed up to 1998. This was one of the biggest opportunity losses of PDP-Laban.

PDP-Laban and LP - ideological soulmates

"Cory made no secret of her preference for a Ramos-Pimentel tandem. Apparently, this didn't appeal to Pimentel as he felt ideologically bound to the avowed Christian Socialist Jovito Salonga and couldn't trust the rightist General Ramos, Marcos' one-time martial law implementor. But many in the PDP-Laban found Salonga unattractive. Since the PDP-Laban didn't have the wherewithal to field a complete presidential and senatorial slates, a coalition with another party was mulled over. PDP-Laban President 'Janet' Ferrer constituted a negotiating team to pursue talks with allies of President Cory to push for the dream slate.

"The negotiations failed. Nene Pimentel, defying the PDP-Laban national convention accepted Salonga's offer as his VP, with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) heading the senatorial slate.

"This split the PDP-Laban into several factions: a segment supporting President Cory's preference, Ramos-Osmeña of Lakas Tao-NUCD; and two major wings of the PDP Laban - the larger Pimentel-Salonga wing, and the PDP-Laban Secretary General Peping Cojuangco-led Mitra-Fernan LDP group. Both Raul Daza and I representing our parties were appointed as national co-campaign managers. (The PDP-Laban-Liberal Party coalition, however, is worth reviewing in some detail.)

Line-up unravels

"Early dawn of the day before the deadline for the filing of candidacies, former president Diosdado Macapagal wrote a letter to Salonga advising him of the withdrawal of daughter Gloria from the LP-PDP-Laban senatorial slate to run under the Ramos-Osmeña ticket instead. This precipitated a crisis and a rethinking of the slate, as Gloria in several surveys was consistently the only probable winner in the incomplete LP slate.

"Consequently, the Salonga-Pimentel campaign was a debacle. We couldn't raise the logistics and couldn't even put in place the crucial precinct poll watchers. And we created hundreds of disgruntled members and PDP-Laban candidates.

"With the two wings of the PDP-Laban unable to reconcile, the party remained in hiatus for the next three years 1992-1995 - until the assumption of Makati Mayor Jojo Binay at the helm, unifying the factions."

1992 and 2021: The Pimentels

Comparing scenarios, the Pimentel pere initiated the break in 1991 when he defied the PDP-Laban 8th national convention decision on May 12-13, 1990, in Laoag City, for him to run as PDP-Laban standard bearer in the 1992 presidential elections. His consenting to run with the LP's Salonga as the latter's vice president was a personal choice - not the party's, nor the wishes of President Cory who preferred him to run with Ramos. But he was still reluctantly supported by a majority of the original party intelligentsia.

Today's 2021 PDP-Laban's break-up is different yet curiously bears some similarities. The Pimentel fils abrogated his presidency, appointing Pacquiao "acting president" in contravention of party processes - the main issue that PDP-Laban chairman, President Duterte, has chosen to harp on. There was no way Koko Pimentel/Manny Pacquiao could withstand Duterte's ire.

Like the virus, the party has mutated. Duterte's wing is the only game in town. It is a small comfort that Nene Pimentel who nurtured it to its pinnacle is no longer around to witness his PDP-Laban's metamorphosis from "left of center" to "left or right" of...nothing!

Next week, Aug. 11. 2021: Revival of sorts000
Read 1242 times Last modified on Wednesday, 04 August 2021 11:05
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