The Need for Platforms in Politics: Why parties in the Philippines have no clear political stand

by: Pammy Macasaet 2012-57319

While the country is riding on economic high, growing at a phenomenal rate, it is hard to ignore the plight of the marginalized. The way the government is run can be blamed for the current situation of the Philippines. Another system that can be blamed is perhaps, the political parties that are behind the all these politicians. Many of the political parties today campaign under a banner of ideology with no clear laid out action plan. Platforms are not a big reason for being elected. This creates an election based on name recall instead of action. This has to be stopped. In this article I will be looking at the Nacionalista and Liberal party.

 

In order to understand the reason for the why parties have no clear platforms, one thing must be clear: the goal of these parties is to win. How to win is a big factor to why there are no platforms. Because the Philippines has no two party system- the party’s candidates have to win by a plurality instead of majority. What do I mean by this? This means that the candidate has to focus on getting the most number of votes from all people. There is more competition since there are many candidates. Well, that is a given since that is a point of an election. But there is a difference. Take America, for example, where the presidential candidate needs to win by a majority. The candidate needs to get more than half of the votes. It attains this by getting votes from certain sectors of society. Notice on CNN or other news channels whenever they analyze the presidential elections they say, “Candidate A is strong with the women.” or “Candidate B has the senior vote.” Carle Lande wrote about the political parties in the Philippines. He said that candidates in the Philippines cannot have clear stands on issues because they have to get the vote of all sectors of society instead of one.

 

The Nacionalista and Liberal Party of the Philippines are probably the reigning parties in the Philippines. They have a history of being active in Philippine politics since the establishment of the modern government during the American period.

 

 

I chose these two parties because they are still relevant and influence Philippine society today. Both these parties fielded presidential candidates in the 2010 elections, Manny Villar for the Nacionalista party and Noynoy Aquino for the liberal party. The latter came out as the victor, restoring some of the Liberal party’s influence and power. The Nacionalista party is the oldest political party in Philippine history. It began during the American rule and became a vehicle for independence. The Nacionalista was born out of two parties. Claro M. Recto, one of its members, led the Nacionalista party during its inception. The Nacionalista party is currently headed by Manny Villar. The Liberal party branched out from the Nacionalista party. It was officially founded by Manuel Roxas on January 19, 1946. He was part of what was known as the “Liberal Wing” of the Nacionalista party. From this party came two  other Philippine presidents. These were Elpidio Quirino and Diosdado Macapagal.

 

Other parties like Former President Joseph Estrada’s PMP or Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino and GMA’s Lakas-CMD Kampi are personality-driven. These parties rose and fell with its leaders. Their political interests are self-serving and only aim to elect them into office.

 

The Nacionalista party is the more “conservative party” of the Philippines. They have fought for independence through the legislation of laws and negotiating with the Philippine’s colonial powers. Its tag line “Ang Bayan Higit Sa Lahat” which roughly translates to “Country before anything else” talks about how it prioritizes the nation before anything else. They have been able to achieve this through creation of laws and implementing policies that bring progress to the nation. It can be compared to the Republican Party of the United States. The Liberal party is the more “open-minded” party as compared to the Nacionalista party. Its tag line is “Sa daang matuwid, asensong walang patid.” However, there is a lack of clear stands on political issues.

 

The two parties today (Nacionalista and Liberal) talk about their plans for the country, but the plans are not expressed clearly and tend to be vague. The reason being, the two political parties are similar; more specifically, they are both parties of the rich: “the argument rests on two essentially Marxian assumptions, that political parties are the agents of specific social classes, and that two parties representing the same social class cannot be expected to differ from one another to any significant degree” (Lande, 1967). By comparing the beliefs and platforms of these two parties, one can see that there is a problem with the Philippine political system. There is no room for debate when two political parties have no definite stance on relevant issues. Lande reasons that political parties greatest aim to get elected. In order to be elected, they must acquire support from all sectors of society. To gain this support, they must agree and uphold all views; therefore, the party cannot commit to any distinctive and coherent programs and stances on issues. (Lande, 1967). Lande mentions another way these two political parties are able to gain power without having a solid opinion on issues, through the cultivation of the “among the most assertive and politically influential individuals of every social stratum, interest group and region.” (Lande 1967). This explains why the Philippines is extremely personality-driven. The President Noynoy Aquino, son of democratic icons Noynoy & Corazon Aquino, outshines the platform and beliefs of the Liberal Party. Likewise, Manny Villar, the billionaire businessman of the Nacionalista Party is at its center instead of the platforms and beliefs of the party. Lande believe that this “is made possible by  the absence of strict and impartial law enforcement, a deficiency characteristic government in a society which attaches a high value to favoritism and little  value to general rules.” (Lande, 1967) This is an extremely problematic for Philippine politics. There is no room for improvement in the country when the elections are based on personalities instead of the issues at hand.

 

Comparing different political organizaitons namely, the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party can help us to further understand the Philippine’s history and give insight to its current political system. Comparing differences in beliefs and aims reveal problems of the lack of commitment to issues. The Nacionalista and Liberal party seem to stand at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Through comparison, it is revealed that these parties are not really that different. In the current political system there is a lack of focus on the important issues. This is why issues and problems can never be resolved. Hopefully, the insights gained from this essay can be used for the further progress of the nation.

 

Sources:

About the liberal party. Retrieved 30 September 2013 from

http://www.liberalparty.org.ph/about-lp/

 

About us. Retrieved 30 September 2013 from http://www.nacionalistaparty.com/index.php/about-us

 

Amended constitution of the liberal party of the Philippines. Retrieved 30 September 2013 from http://www.liberalparty.org.ph/LP2012/LIBERALS_IN_GOVERNMENT/Pages/EXECUTIVE_files/LP_Constitution.pdf

 

Crisanto, A.C., & Crisanto J.M. (2009). Building the nation first 100 years Nacionalista party 1907-2007.  National Library of the Philippines Cataloging in Publication.

 

Lande, C.H., (1967). The Philippine political party system. Journal Southeast Asian History. Retrieved from http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/dspace/bitstream/1808/1186/1/CEAS.1967.n5.pdf

 

Vision, mission and objectives. Retrieved 30 September 2013 from http://www.liberalparty.org.ph/about-lp/vision-mission-and-objectives/

 

 

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One thought on “The Need for Platforms in Politics: Why parties in the Philippines have no clear political stand

  1. Interesting read indeed. Made me think about what politics are, and how it is in the Philippines. I have to agree that there are a lot of setbacks in today’s politics. a definitely a lack of focus in a lot of areas.

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