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“You are good if you can uplift Filipinos from their current condition. But you are greater if you bring them to a condition beyond where they need not be uplifted.” – Lito Monico C. Lorenzana (LMCL), Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippine (CDP) Founding Chairman

I’M prepping up to write a treatise on Centrist Democratic Party’s arduous journey from a fledgling “Successor Generation” movement to a nascent political party and interpolate the “Centrist” concepts of some of the brilliant minds, our mentors, who started it all and my own ideas built on experience from the “roots of the grass,” as political action officer. I hope to draw the attention and persuade idealistic segments of society and the public at large that the way to good governance and participatory decision-making is through Centrist Democracy’s brand of political technocracy and to which they are invited to join as party members. Will it be relevant to present realities? With the flowering of the initiatives, will national redemption be at hand? Can it leave a legacy that will shape a secure and prosperous future for the succeeding generations? The essay hopes to give pragmatic answers as well as insights from party stalwarts, fodder to the grist mill, hoping that the by-products would contribute to the development of real political party institutions and advance the cause of nation-building. This article will just be a glimpse of that work.

Centrist Democracy’s roots can be traced from as far back as the French Revolution in 1789 when “democratic passions were unbridled throughout Europe” and supported for the greater part by Catholic Church’s teachings. It was then called Christian Democracy, with the application of Christian principles in ordering society’s political, economic and social life. In the Philippines, the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) in 1950 and Federation of Free Farmers in 1953, started out as associations exhibiting “definite Christian democratic orientation” and, with the Church, worked for reforms. The birth of the Christian Social Movement, the major political repository of the Philippine version of Christian Democracy, under the guidance of the initial movers led by the preeminent Raul Manglapus and the support of Filipino Muslims in Mindanao, soon paved the way for what would become Centrist Democracy, although unraveling political events in the country preempted the flourishing of the Centrist movement. There were many groups who followed the Christian democratic path although none were able to rise to national prominence. We hope that this generation, comprised of knowledgeable and patriotic young Centrists, imbued with Christian values and principles will rise to the challenge and bring about genuine reforms in this country, an economic laggard behind its mostly non-Christian Asian neighbors.

CDP started as Centrist Democratic Movement, a federation of young professionals and sectoral groups which have attracted a good number of adherents who believe in democratic ideals tempered with social concerns. The proponents, comprised of the founding Chairman Lito Monico C. Lorenzana and several others sought accreditation from COMELEC which granted them a national political party status in September 12, 2012 under the able guidance of Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez who eventually became its National President. I boarded the political ship just as it left port so to speak, to field candidates for the 2013 midterm elections, an experience which left an enduring impression and paved the way for my eventual entry in politics and the first electoral exercise where I actually campaigned for party candidates. It was like finding a missing thread that would be intimately woven to complete a patchwork quilt defining my life’s work.

One of the party’s goals is to institutionalize political reforms to eradicate the patronage-oriented parties which dotted the political landscape. Unlike most political parties with leanings to conservative standards and strong liberal (capitalist) inclination, CDP follows the “mixed economy” principles of a Social Market Economy (SME), the political ideology which ensures the rise of Germany from the ashes of two devastating world wars. The essay I am about to write will have a good portion discussing the subject including the Centrist Democracy’s adherence to a truly functional democracy and the rule of law, the principle of subsidiarity and decentralization and a sustainable political party system to ensure effective governance.

Centrist Democracy hews close to the Christian ideals promoting human dignity, which in the words of Dr. Peter Koeppinger, one of the guiding pillars of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany, also means self-determination. According to him “all must be free to determine the course of their lives and be able to take care of themselves; it is freedom of personal development, initiative and decision-making”. The Centrist way is by no means the be-all and end-all in the political discourse and offers no quick fix to the nation’s ills. Nevertheless, as we are facing political problems, just so we proffer political solutions. A close friend and colleague, Ben Contreras, a mayoral candidate asked: “If our government is being ran by people from the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP), do you think we will be better off than under PRRD?”. I answered unequivocally, “under the present unitary, centralized system, with an aberrant political and electoral system, unbridled corruption and oligarchic control, uncontrolled political dynasty and patronage, (with) no transparent and accountable government bureaucracy, ignorant citizenry and bribable officials, a categorical NO”. There has to be institutional reforms which will usher a society and government that uplift human dignity, tempered with the rule of law, social justice and genuine people empowerment.

This is a centrist’s challenge to my age, to the youth, the Church, the politicians, the civil society organizations, the government officials, to those who hold the welfare of mendicants, the poor and the “hungry poor” in their hands, the people displaced by war, the landless, the indigenous people whose future are made uncertain by land-grabbing oligarchs and to the people’s protector, the vanguard of the defenseless, an impartial military establishment who will ultimately decide if they follow the rule of law or take matters in their own hands or support a revolutionary government and lay more chaos in the land: take responsibility and help shape the future of this country for our posterity’s sake. Do it the centrist way.000
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