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Villar and Cayetano’s Nacionalista Party should expel Trillanes

THEY should have long ago, even before the elections.

But Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ recent interview with the British Broadcasting Network’s much- respected HARDtalk program, in which he not only spewed outright lies against President Duterte but demonstrated his stupidity, should be the tipping point for the Nacionalista Party (NP) to expel this megalomaniac.

There has expectedly been outrage in social media over Trillanes’ outrageous statements in the interview, among them: that the country doesn’t have an illegal drug problem since even if 98 percent of barangays in Metro Manila are afflicted with this scourge, it is only 27 percent for the whole country, and after all, marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug and not shabu; that Filipinos support Duterte only because they are ignorant; and that Duterte doesn’t have an economic program and is just “killing the poor”.

The NP must expel Trillanes, especially because of his asinine reply when he was asked whether “he was a democrat,” and he anwered, announcing to the whole world: “I am from the Nacionalista Party.”

Doesn’t the NP care that this guy from the lunatic fringe presents himself as a Nacionalista to the whole world, and therefore his views are that of the party? But not a peep from Nacionalista’s bigwigs on their partymate Trillanes’ canard against Duterte.

The NP’s chairman is property billionaire Manuel Villar, and its vice chairman his wife, Sen. Cynthia Villar—both staunch Duterte allies and allegedly his biggest campaign donors, so much so that their son, Mark Villar, was awarded the prime post of highways and public works secretary. Duterte’s running mate and foreign affairs secretary Alan Cayetano and the latter’s sister, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, are Nacionalistas.

Other prominent party leaders and supporters of Duterte are Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and his  sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.

Why do these Nacionalistas allow the equivalent of a mad, rabid dog in Philippine politics, Trillanes, to continue to be their party mate, and who has practically done nothing but throw the blackest of dirt against Duterte whom they support, and even get benefits from it?

NOT EVEN A PEEP FROM THEM. Trillanes’ Nacionalista partymates: (clockwise after Trillanes) chairman Villar; vice chairman, wife Senator Cynthia; their son DPWH Secretary Mark; Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano; Rep. Pia Cayetano; ;Bongbong  and Imee Marcos.

No party discipline
Isn’t there such a thing as party discipline in this country? There could only be the following reasons why the NP can’t expel Trillanes, all of them not flattering to the Nacionalistas.

One, they are so afraid of Trillanes that nobody in the party dare try to expel him. For all his machismo, Fariñas is afraid to move against Trillanes? Cayetano with all his hopes to be Duterte’s anointed in 2022 also? Trillanes is mocking them by being, as HARDtalk host Stephen Sackur described him, Duterte’s fiercest critic, and the Nacionalistas say nothing?

Two, the Nacionalistas are political opportunists, hedging their bets that if Duterte falls (or his successor loses in the next presidential elections) and the opposition assumes power, they would still have a strong connection to the new rulers which would likely include Trillanes.

Three, the Nacionalista Party is of the same mold as nearly all political parties in the country since the Edsa revolution: the equivalent of private armies in the political sphere. That is, politicians become members of a “political party” mainly because its covert or overt head provides them with a steady source of money—reportedly at least P300,000 per month—much more than their relatively meager incomes as congressman or even senator, and even a “fellowship” trip in a luxury cruise liner to the Middle East and Japan. For the party’s head of course, he becomes a political kingpin, somebody not to be trifled with, with the President having to consult him in his major decisions.

If a party is in power of course, as the PDP-Laban in theory has become, the benefits are no longer merely financial, but a hotline to the President who, among the many largesse that he can distribute, is that of whom to appoint to the more than 5,000 positions in government and state firms.

C’mon, do you think the tycoon Villar is so committed to an ideology or set of noble principles of the Nacionalista Party that congressmen have flocked to him, looking up to him as their leader, and making him chairman of their party?

If Nacionalista Party members are afraid to expel Trillanes, why should we look forward in 2022 for its leading members such as Cayetano, Marcos and perhaps Mark Villar to assume Duterte’s mantle in 2022?

Simple question
Our simple question—Why doesn’t the NP expel Trillanes?—unearths one of our biggest problems as a nation: We really don’t have a party system. What we have are merely ad hoc gangs often united by a tycoon who simply gives them money to join his private political army.

Why is a party system important? Just look at our rich neighbors. One reason for their development is not just that they had charismatic leaders. Each had a principled ruling party that provided the disciplined organization to run and oversee a usually unwieldy and graft-prone bureaucracy.

Main examples of this reality: the Communist Party in the People’s Republic of China; the Liberal Democratic Party that led Japan’s development in the post-war era up to the 1990s; the Kuomintang Party in Taiwan; the People’s Action Party that has ruled Singapore since 1959; and UMNO (United Malays National Organization) that has been the party in power Malaysia since 1959.

The alternative for countries without such strong party systems appears to have been that quasi-party: the military, as what happened in South Korea, Indonesia and, recently, even Thailand, with generals and their armed forces overseeing the bureaucracy. In this context, it’s not really surprising that Duterte has appointed a number of former military generals to head key posts. Military men, of course with exceptions, are imbued because of their indoctrination at the Philippine Military Academy with that sense of discipline and service to the nation that are features of cadre parties in developed Asian countries.

Probably the biggest curse of both Marcos and Cory Aquino is that they destroyed the party system in the country, and made the idea that a party is essential to governance appear nonsensical. Marcos because he set as a negative example his Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, which never really became a strong, grassroots party. Cory, because she wrecked the two-party system with her multi-party baloney,

Trillanes is not just a mad megalomaniac. He is a symptom of one of the country’s deepest malaise.