Back Scratching

Monday, April 19th, 2010

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The defections of many Lakas-Kampi-CMD members to either the Nacionalista Party (NP) or to the Liberal Party (LP)-the most recent of which is Albay Governor Joey Salceda's migration to LP-challenge if not undermine the claims of these two parties regarding their avowed identities of being "oposisyon" or "moral reformist."

In the case of the Sen. Manuel Villar-led NP, it has portrayed itself as the "opposition party" against Mrs. Gloria Arroyo's Administration. Nonetheless, the NP has continued to gobble up Lakas-Kampi members and stalwarts like Camarines Sur Third District Cong. Luis R. Villafuerte and his son, Camarines Sur Governor LRay Villafuerte. With the elder Villafuerte, a known staunch ally and defender of Mrs. Arroyo at the Lower House, now joining Villar's NP, it stretches the imagination how the Nacionalista Party can indeed be the "oposisyon" it peddles itself to be. What Villafuerte et al's defections abet is the persistent talk of "Villaroyo," or the ecret collusion between Arroyo and Villar.

Governor Joey Salceda's recent abandonment of Lakas-Kampi-CMD in favor of the Liberal Party poses the same quandary for the Sen. Noynoy Aquino-led Liberal Party. The Arroyo Administration's top economic adviser, Salceda can be credited-or blamed, some say-for the current economic programs pursued by the government. With the Liberal Party's own acceptance of many of Arroyo's partymates, it cannot but sow doubt on whether Noynoy Aquino's reformist slogan of eliminating corruption in government-which has been enthusiastically embraced by a people longing for moral reform-is simply that, a slogan.

Last year, we said that political turncoatism had seemed to have lost its stigma as evinced by the lack of outrage or indignation from the public regarding incidences of defections. The public's derision and contempt for politicians whose loyalties are marked by opportunism seemed to have been replaced by resignation to this unfortunate feature of our political culture. Loyalty to one's party, especially if there were really no core ethical principles which truly bound its members, is ephemeral. Party loyalty, or so it seemed, is based on quid-pro-quo arrangements: I scratch your back if you scratch mine.

Clearly, there had been a lot of back-scratching lately in the Nacionalista and Liberal Parties.