The true PDP Laban
The issue will, however, boil down to facts and the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts.
Our country is a representative democracy modeled after the US system where leaders are chosen by the popular vote of the people. The 1987 Constitution adopted the presidential form of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary.
We have witnessed even before the 1987 Constitution that in a representative democracy of the presidential form, the elected members of the executive and the legislative branches tend to gravitate toward a political alliance with the incumbent president. From the time of President Cory to the incumbent PBBM, the pattern is clear that political party allegiance transfers to the sitting president.
During PGMA’s time, the Lakas-CMD Party had the majority numbers in Congress with 75 seats, while the Liberal Party held 22. After PNoy’s victory, his Liberal Party had approximately 87 members and represented the majority in Congress. When President Duterte won under the banner of PDP Laban, its membership grew from a lone seat to as many as 101 members in Congress, while the Liberal Party representatives were reduced to 10. Verily, the shifting of party membership and allegiance is a political reality in the country. A sitting president, especially a popular one, will always get the representatives’ votes.
The PDP Laban constitution was similarly patterned after this model of representative democracy where its leaders are elected in a national assembly. Not all party members can vote — only the members of the national council who were elected in the national and local elections, from the position of president to city mayor.
When Rodrigo R. Duterte became chairman of PDP Laban and was elected president in 2016, all the votes gravitated to him. He was highly popular throughout his incumbency. It was obvious too that President Duterte, as chairman of PDP Laban, had the numbers in the membership and leadership of the party.
This is the gist of the case in our petition with the Commission on Elections — that we are the legitimate officers of PDP Laban because party chairman Duterte had validly presided over a 17 July 2021 PDP Laban national assembly where 78 percent of the national council members attended and participated in electing a new set of party officers, with Secretary Alfonso Cusi elected party president. It was a highly covered and well-documented event that showcased the political reality that the incumbent president will get the votes of the party that he or she leads.
The respondents, represented by Senator Koko Pimentel and Senator Manny Pacquiao, tried to argue the case through legal technicalities, raising the issue of jurisdiction, among others, but the Comelec en banc rightfully denied all their arguments. Senator Koko has told reporters they will appeal the Comelec resolution in the Supreme Court.
The issue will, however, boil down to facts and the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. It will eventually uphold all the factual findings of the Comelec — that the true PDP Laban is the party being led and represented by former President Rodrigo Duterte.
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