Monday, January 30, 2006

The Root of the Divide

Of the columnists of the country’s leading broadsheet, Amando Doronila is the one I usually pay attention to. Unlike many of his colleagues, one does not know what he will tell us before starting to read. Excessively opinionated commentators get boring with the time.

This time, however, Doronila was out of touch. In his “analysis” published today, he attributes the divide within the ranks of the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP) to “the rivalry for the country’s presidency between Senate President Franklin Drilon and Sen.Mar Roxas II, grandson of the late president.”

If this were the case, the return to a united liberal organization would merely be a matter of time. No, unfortunately, it's not between those two senators. Unfortunately, the divide reaches much deeper and has to do with fundamental, almost philosophical differences.

I have given my take on the present divide in a commentary entitled “Filipino Liberals” published the other day in the BusinessWorld newspaper:

"As on various occasions in the past, today, once more, two opposing concepts of politics are evident among the leaders of organized Philippine liberalism: the politics of conscience versus the politics of convenience. On the one hand, Liberals are proud of their progressive values and concepts; upholding them is a conscientious imperative. At the same time, Liberals tend to be pragmatists; they know that in order to shape meaningful reforms they have to work within the system and within the parameters of the law.

The Philippine political context includes features and mechanisms not conducive to clean and transparent governance. Confronted with the dilemma of conscience and convenience, not all Liberals adopt the same standard. Some prefer to stay in power arguing that their presence allows them to influence developments in a positive direction. Others have chosen to quit arguing that staying on in what they perceive as an illegitimate structure would signify collusion.

In abstract terms, this is the situation of organized Liberals today – a split between two camps with diametrically differing views on the dominant issue of domestic politics."

Go to Filipino Liberals for the complete text of the commentary.

P.S.: In his “analysis,” Doronila quotes from the statement of former Senator Jovito Salonga and says this was read at the Plaza Miranda rally sponsored by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and “not at Drilon’s assemblage at the Dusit Hotel” in Makati City.

Doronila overlooks that Senator Salonga personally showed up at the LP’s testimonial dinner at Club Filipino and was celebrated by all those present as the true icon of Philippine liberalism. It is quite embarrassing that columnist Doronila and his editor overlook this politically significant detail.


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