A casualty

Last year I had written of (but not "off") the Liberal Party as one of the casualties of the political crisis. This news report reminds me of the cost the party — much rejuvenated in the last few years — has had to endure in the last few months.

THE grand old man of the Liberal Party, former Senate President Jovito Salonga, offered to patch up his splintered party as the feuding factions went their separate ways in celebrating the group’s 60th anniversary on Thursday …

“Today we are divided once more but it is my hope and prayer that like brothers, we can disagree without being disagreeable, we can differ without being difficult,” said Salonga, the party’s chairman emeritus. “If I can serve as an instrument of reconciliation between the two camps, I shall be most happy.”

Salonga has the unique distinction of being the only person to run for the Senate thrice, and topping the list of Senate winners each time. Despite the three-decade-old shrapnel from the Plaza Miranda bombing that still lodge in his body (and the heartache of losing a presidential election for lack of money and machinery), Salonga remains remarkably sharp, his mind wonderfully lucid.

But who will listen to an old hand who does not wield power but only influence — and the off-putting, moral kind, at that?

Addressing the political crisis that has gripped the nation for the past eight months, Salonga said that if Ms Arroyo was right in saying she won the May 10, 2004 presidential election fair and square, “there should be an end to the senseless squabbles and bickering” crippling the nation.

“But if the truth is otherwise, then justice must take its normal course,” he added.

Sounds about right, yes? The equivalences in his statement, read for him by Quintin Doromal at the Liberal Party’s 60th anniversary rally in Manila (that is to say, before the faction led by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza), seem to strike the balance one would look for in a neutral reconciliator. But if I may hazard a guess, his parallel phrasing will not sit well with the other Liberal faction, that led by Senate President Frank Drilon.

Why? Salonga’s lawyerly stress on justice taking its normal course is precisely what the Drilon faction was worried about when it called on the President to resign. Let me be more exact. Salonga places a great importance on the constitutional processes, and assumes that the remedy will take time. The faction led by Drilon does not share Salonga’s sense of patience; if anything, they would describe Salonga’s course of action as lacking the right sense of urgency.

A pity. I thought the Liberal Party was well on its way to becoming a politically cohesive force that decided on the basis of party policy, not personality.



Filed under Readings in Politics

3 responses to “A casualty

  1. manuelbuencamino

    “But if the truth is otherwise, then justice must take its normal course,” he added.

    I took this to mean that Salonga is appealing to the Liberal Party and Mrs. Arroyo, specially, to allow justice to take its normal course. That would mean allowing the truth to be told because there can be no justice if there is no truth. Simply put, we cannot make any conclusions if we do not have all the facts.
    How will we know if she really won? And even more important, that she did not cheat if every attempt at uncovering the truth is being blocked ? How can justice take its normal course then?

    The first part of Salonga’s statement can only be answered when Mrs. Arroyo allows the second part to happen – let justice take its normal course.

  2. I guess justice is the easier concept to define. But the norm . . . the “normal course” in Philippine politics is pregnant with interpretations? And watch for the “ifs” too.

  3. You both are right, of course. Salonga has already called for a forthright accounting on the President’s part. The limits of his remarks, however, may only reflect the limits of his audience: I mean he must have intended his statement primarily for an “internal” public, the members of the Liberal Party’s two factions.

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