Betrayal in politics

“The challenge to both traditional and progressive political groups is to return to an ethics-based politics…always doing the right thing the right way to achieve the right outcome”

There we go again.

Trapo (traditional and transactional) politics on display.

The worst of Philippine politics.

There is no policy issue being debated, no vision of society being contested.

What we are seeing is a display of naked power and blatant self-interest.

Social media is abuzz with the resignation of Vice President Sara Duterte from her political party Lakas-CMD, after an uproarious day at the House of Representatives involving its top party leaders, Speaker Martin Romualdez and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

After former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was ousted as senior deputy speaker at the House of Representatives, Duterte resigned, although she did not give a specific reason for her resignation.

But she cited “political toxicity.”

I will not be surprised if she will let go or be asked to let go of her position as Secretary of Education.

She is not qualified for that position and has not been doing well, alienating many sectors.

It is best if she maximizes the Vice-Presidency so that further harm to our educational system is prevented.

While Duterte made the dramatic move to enable her to “meaningfully serve” fellow Filipinos and the Philippines – with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading the way, political analysts see thru the real reason behind such a move.

Opposition leader and Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said the removal of former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from her senior deputy speaker role and Vice President Sara Duterte’s resignation from Lakas-CMD are linked.

He further said, and I agree, the recent events involving the administration’s allies also show the positioning for the 2028 presidential polls has started already.

Believe me when a politician employs doublespeak or makes promises such as “public welfare, common good,” or “meaningful service” that one cannot accept it lock, stock, and barrel.

In fact, the default must be to take a politician’s statements with a grain of salt.

We have enough experience with political reality to see thru the real intent behind it.

Today, political dynasties and celebrities dominate our politics.

There is the absence also of genuine opposition.

The dominance of the ruling party limits the opportunities for opposition parties to gain traction and influence.

The concentration of power can lead to limited checks and balances, which is essential for a healthy democracy.

Moreover, strong executive powers can limit the effectiveness of the opposition, as the ruling party often controls key government institutions and resources.

When political power becomes highly concentrated, it often leads to impunity, creating a range of negative consequences such as a lack of checks and balances, and suppression of dissent and opposition.

Impunity thrives in an environment where institutions are weak or compromised because weakened institutions are less likely to investigate and prosecute abuses of power, allowing those responsible to act with impunity.

Corruption and nepotism thrive in this environment, and the proliferation of human rights abuses.

As a whole, the concentration of power erodes democratic principles and values. In a healthy democracy, power is dispersed, and there are mechanisms in place to ensure accountability and prevent abuses.

However, when power becomes concentrated, democratic norms and processes can be undermined.

This erosion weakens the democratic fabric, making it easier for those in power to act with impunity.

Ultimately, one should not rely on a solitary group or political party to rescue the state of Philippine politics.

True transformation must originate from the Filipino individuals residing within the Philippines themselves.

Recognizing that politics involves a clash of diverse interests, it is crucial for the Filipino people to assert their own stake, as governments exist fundamentally to serve their citizens.

The confluence of these factors results in more or less predictable outcomes in the elections, whether in the national or local political arena.

This is why we now see the dominant political personalities and dynasties jockeying as early as now to gain the best vantage point for the 2028 presidential contest.

What is happening to the country is a consequence of our transactional politics. Unfortunately, we see this type of politics permeating all throughout our system.

To some extent, as Machiavelli and even Marx have written, this is the nature of politics since you have to build coalitions.

I have seen this in 45 years of engagement in Philippine politics.

Even the best and the brightest, even those in progressive and yes revolutionary movements, practice transactional politics, and as I have myself experienced strong bond of friendships are disregarded aside in favor of political gains that are ephemeral.

Betrayal is not a unique to traditional politics; even the best and the brightest and the most committed to the masses and the people do it for political exigencies. Recently, I experienced this myself and was hurt deeply by it.

But I learned lessons from my sad experience.

The challenge to both traditional and progressive political groups is to return to an ethics-based politics, what I have described to my students in the Ateneo School of Government as always doing the right thing the right way to achieve the right outcome.

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