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Quo vadis, PDP?



It looks like Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP), the political party responsible for getting Rodrigo Duterte elected President of the Philippines in May 2016, is headed for confusing times.

The election of President Duterte created the usual realignment of forces in the House of Representatives. Congressmen who basked in the abusive ways of the Liberal Party (LP) under ex-President Benigno Aquino III remained in power by shifting their political allegiance to the new President’s political party.

In contrast, the LP became a ramshackle political party, a ghost of its powerful past and with only a few stragglers left in the Senate.

PDP quickly installed staunch Duterte allies, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Senate President and as Speaker of the House, respectively.

Soon thereafter, local government officials and has-beens from the past administration quickly abandoned their old allegiances to become PDP. Even Francis Tolentino, the incompetent and opportunistic ex-chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), devout supporter of Aquino III’s LP and who lost in the May 2016 senatorial polls, became one of President Duterte’s “political advisers” under the PDP. That’s strange — a defeated politician advising the President about politics!

Tolentino expected to be a senatorial candidate of the LP in 2016, but an LP meeting in Laguna held months before the election cost Tolentino that berth. The entertainment — scantily-clad dancing girls — was supposedly organized by Tolentino. Public anger forced the LP leadership to disown him.

Anyway, the recent ouster of Speaker Alvarez and his replacement with ex-President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo created quite a stir in the PDP. It was so unsettling that last 2 August, the party leadership called a general membership meeting to flex its muscle and assert its solid support for President Duterte.

An estimated 150 PDP key figures attended the meeting. Arroyo, who is supposed to be a member of the party, was not there. The big mystery is what will happen to the party now under such confusing circumstances. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, the President’s daughter, Sara Duterte, is someone to watch in the next several weeks. Political observers have good reason to suggest that Filipinos should expect the unexpected.

To test Martires

The new Ombudman, retired Supreme Court Justice Samuel Martires, will do well by avoiding the path previously taken by his predecessor, Conchita Carpio-Morales, herself a former magistrate of the highest court of the land. Analysts assert that Carpio-Morales engaged in “selective justice,” which means that she deliberately avoided filing charges against “preferred” allies of her benefactor, President Benigno Aquino III, while professing to be impartial and objective in the exercise of her duties.

The best example in that regard is the way Morales’ office handled the investigation of anomalies allegedly committed by officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) during the incumbency of President Aquino III. Although Morales filed criminal charges against a few middle-echelon officials of the DoTC, the top officials were spared.

During Morales’ incumbency, many cases which her office filed against corrupt government officials with the Sandiganbayan were dismissed in view of the inordinate delay in filing the cases. Thus put, Martires should expedite the resolution of the pending cases in his office.

Speaking of pending cases, what happened to the plunder complaint which an anti-corruption advocate filed in the Office of the Ombudsman against ex-Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado? The advocate filed the case after Mercado admitted in a Senate investigation that when he was still vice mayor, he received a bribe of P80 million for the anomalous construction of the overpriced parking building near the Makati City Hall. Almost three years have passed and nothing has been heard of the case.

Perhaps there is truth in the revelation made by one lawyer to the effect that certain investigators in the Office of the Ombudsman charge a so-called “parking fee” just to keep certain cases unattended to for an indefinitely long period. Last week, Martires said that he will ask that lawyer for more detailed information about this racket.

Hibernating Lim

If MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim is finished with his long hibernation from office, he should do something about incompetent traffic enforcers assigned to three strategic intersections along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).

At the EDSA-Shaw Boulevard intersection, there are no MMDA traffic enforcers to regulate the vehicles making a U-turn from the southbound lane to the northbound lane of EDSA. Because no traffic enforcers are around, these vehicles block the way of the vehicles on the northbound lane crossing Shaw Boulevard, even when it is not yet time for them to make their U-turn. Being so, a bottleneck often ensues at that intersection.

Because of the absence of traffic enforcers, traffic needlessly accumulates at the northbound approach to the EDSA-Crame flyover. It’s caused by a bottleneck of vehicles lining up to enter the narrow space between the northbound lane and the southbound lane — which leads to Santolan Road (Serrano Avenue). Because the northbound approach to the flyover is blocked, northbound traffic in the area gets needlessly stuck and delayed as far as the EDSA-Ortigas Avenue flyover.

The EDSA-Quezon Avenue intersection, particularly the corner where the SM Centris hub is located, is supposed to be a strictly no loading/no unloading zone. Because there are no traffic enforcers at that corner, taxis and for-hire vehicles use the area as a loading and unloading station. This creates a traffic mess in the area.

Perhaps an administrative case against Lim in the Ombudsman will wake him up.