Unlikely political alliances: Sara Duterte’s new party mix

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Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio arrives at Novotel in Quezon City on March 24, 2018. (STAR/Michael Varcas)

Highlights:

  • Expect an unlikely group of political personalities under Sara Duterte’s new Davao-based party.
  • “Hugpong ng Pagbabago” was deemed a rival to the dominant PDP-Laban, but this has not been made clear.

MANILA, Philippines — The formation of a new senatorial slate under Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s “Hugpong ng Pagbabago” has baffled those on both sides of the political divide.

The baffled reaction of administration supporters to Senator JV Ejercito’s revelation that he and a number of his senatorial colleagues will be under the newly-formed party appears to arise from the inclusion of unlikely names on the list, namely Sens. Bam Aquino, Grace Poe and Nancy Binay.

Aquino has since refuted talks of his alliance with senators from rival parties, and has gone on to herald LP’s “The Resistance” slate for the 2019 senatorial elections.

Poe, meanwhile, is remembered for finishing third in the 2016 presidential race from which Duterte-Carpio’s father, Rodrigo Duterte, emerged victorious.

Other names on the list unveiled by Ejercito are Sens. Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar, noted supporters of several pro-administration initiatives.

Ejercito says that the six re-electionists have decided “to stay together.” Two weeks ago, he admitted being dismayed for being left out of PDP-Laban’s senatorial slate for 2019.

The initial list only included newcomers such as PDP-Laban Secretary General and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Rep. Karlo Nograles (Davao), presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, and controversial online personality Mocha Uson who also serves as a communications assistant secretary for Malacañang.

Hugpong ng Pagbabago, offshoot or opposition?

The multi-party system of the Philippines, a third wave democracy, is classified as moderately polarized, said Aurel Croissant and Wolfgang Merke of the University of Heidelberg in 2004. This means the views, positions and agenda of rival parties do not largely contrast or contradict,

Croissant and Marke also wrote that a moderately polarized party system does not necessarily represent real political positions in society.

House Speaker Alvarez, however, dismissed Sara Duterte’s formation of a new regional party as an “opposition”—a label that the presidential daughter blasted him for on social media in February.

Davao Region’s top elected officials led by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio (center) and (from left) Governors Nelson Dayanghirang (Davao Oriental), Claude Bautista (Davao Occidental), Anthony del Rosario (Davao del Norte), and Jayvee Tyron Uy (Compostela Valley) at the launch of the Hugpong sa Pagbabago political party. (BusinessWorld/Carmencita Carillo)

Since then, news of the new regional party’s advent surprised administration supporters.

Though Ejercito has claimed that talks are not yet final, the announcement suggests the possibility of unlikely political partnerships to be forged

The presence of Poe, Villar, Binay, Ejercito under the political banner of Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter also signals an unlikely partnership between relatives of former rivals in elections past.

Poe competed against Binay’s father, former vice president Jejomar in the 2016 presidential race, where the two finished third and fourth respectively.

Cynthia Villar is the wife and party-mate of billionaire and former senator Manny, who finished third in the 2010 race behind Noynoy Aquino, the cousin and partymate of Bam Aquino, and Joseph “Erap” Ejericto Estrada, the father of JV. Estrada ran alongside the elder Binay under the UNA banner.