By Elinando B. Cinco
If it’s true, as the late US President Richard Nixon once said, “the one thing sure about politics is what goes up must come down and what goes down must come up,” then the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP), as the dominant political party at present, should really be working very hard to expand amid turbulent political waters even beyond the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Take the case of PDP’s experience in Cebu province, where last week it was able to attract no less than 50,000 new members to its fold.
News reports said an estimated 40,000 people filled the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City alone. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez administered the oath to the new members. He said those who took their oath must support Duterte’s reform agenda, especially the war on drugs and corruption.
Those who took their oath are considered probationary members. That’s because those who want to join PDP, a people’s party with a distinct ideology, constitution, and political platform, must undergo a basic membership seminar or BMS before they can become full members.
Recruits must know what the PDP stands for, and should really understand the key elements of its ideology and reform agenda, instead of joining it merely for political convenience or expediency.
All Cebu congressmen, except for two, were present during the mass oath-taking. The local group Alayon of the First District, previously aligned with the Nacionalista Party, also shifted alliances.
Although Cebu province is headed by Governor Hilario Davide III of the Liberal Party, the new PDP recruits said they support projects that would benefit the people.
In fact, Alvarez said, he is amenable to Davide’s suggestion for a possible coalition between the two parties on the local level. “I welcome the statement of the governor… If you are willing to help the administration,that is most welcome.”
While a political party must be willing to work with other parties, alliances, and coalitions, it should continue to expand and consolidate its membership for it to remain relevant and a force to reckon with not only in electoral contests by more so in setting the pace in pursuing its agenda of change in Philippine society while in power.
For the PDP, the task of strengthening the party under current conditions falls on the shoulders of Alvarez as secretary general.
Alvarez must talk to all political leaders and seek their support for party initiatives not only in the House of Representatives but also at the national and local levels.
When it became clear that Duterte, as the party chairman and standard bearer, had won overwhelmingly over his nearest rival in the 2016 presidential elections, Alvarez and other top PDP leaders, such as PDP Vice Chairman Alfonso G. Cusi and PDP President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III were already working behind the scenes to secure support for the president-elect’s political, economic, and social agenda.
Alvarez’s joint efforts with other PDP stalwarts to win over new party members from among the district and party-list representatives as well as those belonging to other political formations in Congress led to the creation of a “super-majority” that has paved the way for the passage of several of the Duterte administration’s priority legislative agenda.
With the PDP starting to grow exponentially in the other regions outside of its home base in Mindanao, it is now lending active support to the government’s social development efforts. PDP Cares provides humanitarian assistance to people in areas ravaged by natural and man-made calamities, among them Iligan City at the height of the Marawi conflict.
Meantime, Duterte’s Kitchen, another PDP initiative, continues to feed the homeless and displaced people with nourishing meals on a regular basis.
So, how do you build and consolidate a political party?
Obviously, from the ground up so that we can have an honest-to-goodness grassroots democracy. But that will not happen without a leadership that provides much-needed direction and guidance, as the PDP is doing, so that it continues to serve the nation and overcome challenges to stay on top for as long as it is needed.
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