Letters from Davao: ‘The Rise of Regional Parties’ By Jun Ledesma
POLITICS IS one single activity that ranks high in the consciousness and subconscious of Filipinos from birth to graveyard. Children of politicians are fed the daily dose of conflicts, intrigues, disputes, art of deception, back-stabbing and murder – the kind of brew that our brand of politics is replete with. So we see that the story of grand betrayal surrounding the assassination of Julius Caesar by his bosom friend Brutus, a senator, is not confined in Rome alone. It is very much with us. The only difference is that we improved on it in that the Church and the Judiciary have joined the fray.
The insatiable greed for wealth, title, power and other entitlements predates even the birth of Christ only that in the Philippines the progenies of Brutus seemed to have multiplied into abominable monsters and grotesque politicians some of whom metamorphosed into forever power hungry political animals. These days members of the Liberal Party are hardly heard anymore. The garrulous ones in the upper and lower chambers belong to other parties and party lists. The LPs are now the majority members of PDP-LABAN so it’s like happy days are here again. If there is a party that is nearing extinction it is in fact PDP-Laban. The tragic comedy now is that there are a number of Duterte loyalists in the lower chamber which were even deprived of congressional funds while those who campaigned tooth-and-nail against candidate Digong are getting a big chunk of the moolah! Well, such is the nature of the beast even during the era of the Roman Empire so what the heck.
I therefore cannot find fault in Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio when she spearheaded the organization of Hugpong ng Pagbabago. And I was neither surprised nor shocked why majority of the political leaders in Region 11 have gravitated to HnP and shed off their traditional political identity.
Yes, the political base of Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte is Davao where Partido Demokratikong Partido (PDP) was nurtured as a national political party by the late Atty. Jesus V. “Chito” Ayala. The President himself was among the charter members. Then how come the demise of the party will start in Davao? Let’s do a political autopsy.
It is noteworthy to know that through the years, friendship and cooperative endeavours among business and political leaders in Region 11 transcends political parties and ideologies. The Uys of Compostela Province, Malanyaon and Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental, Duterte of Davao City, Del Rosario and Floirendo of Davao del Norte and Bautista of Davao Occidental may have ran under different political banners but when it comes to regional interests these leaders shed off their colors and work as one. That is why aside from the Regional Development Council there is a Davao Integrated Development Program.
It is this bond of friendship and integration of development programs that propel and sustain the growth of economy (12%) in Region 11. This is almost double the national average. The provinces and cities are the favorite investment destinations in Mindanao. The region is home to the burgeoning banana industry that permanently employs hundreds of thousands and indirectly benefit over 300,000 home-based livelihood business and small scale enterprises. The billions of pesos from salaries and wages and the export revenues circulate in the region and these account for the dynamic growth of business enterprises and influx of population especially in Davao City.
In the inaugural address during the launching of HnP Mayor Inday, enunciated the need to spread investments for vital industries to the other growth centers in the region so that Davao City will not be congested.
The regional bond in Davao is a study in politics. When former Liberal Party pillar from Surigao del Sur, Rep. Johnny Pimentel and Rep. Rey Umali of Mindoro crossed borders and along with House Speaker Bebot Alvarez invaded Davao del Norte and demanded the dismantling of quarantine foot and tire washes checkpoints the regional leadership assembled in full-force in Tagum City.
The political intruders – Pimentel and Umali – declared, as if to scare the stakeholders, laborers of plantations and telegraph their message to the political leaders in the region that they will conduct their committee meeting in Tagum. Their mission they announced is to remove quarantine checkpoints in public roads that traverses through banana plantations. In the usual melodrama, they assailed plantation owners specifically the Floirendos of TADECO, who they claim value more their bananas than the convenience of the public. The duo do not know where and what they are up to. They are not aware that if they remove those quarantine stations, which they stupidly describe as roadblocks, in less than a year, the dreaded fusarium wilt popularly known as Panama disease, will wipe out not only the TADECO plantation of the Floirendos but the entire banana industry.
Of course the regional leadership will not allow that to happen. There will be more jobless workers in the region to take care of than there are OFWs in the Middle East. Wreck the banana industry and you wipe out the vibrant economy of the region. Certainly the leaders will not allow insurgency and criminality to reign amidst chaos and loss of livelihood like what is happening in Surigao del Sur and Mindoro.
Inday Sara is not mincing words. Even with her joke as she speaks in the Tagum audience the other week, she intoned that she will run for Congress and vie to be Speaker of the House. And then more cryptic message. With her in that assembly was Rep. Tonyboy Floirendo, the estrange friend of Bebot Alvarez. What a waste. These two were bosom buddies. Months back rumor mongers were saying that the rift was brought about by the loves of their lives. It’s turning out to be something different. I must confess here that once I attempted to see if their friendship can still be patched up. What I heard from Bebot is that “this is not about friendship anymore”. Stunned by the retort, I failed to ask what it was about. Now am beginning to see the reasons why.
In some significant events that had happened in Davao, political pillars in North and Central Luzon mostly identified with regional political parties, have been observed to be hobnobbing with political leaders in Davao Region who are the core members of HnP. I have seen a number of incumbent political leaders from Metro Manila, North and Central Luzon who frequents Davao nowadays. I think they love the beaches, the eagles, chocolates and congeniality of leaders in Davao Region. Or am I seeing the rise of regional political parties? (Jun Ledesma)
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