By Chit Estella
April 20, 2010
THE story of the Liberal Party (LP) is the story of traditional party politics in the Philippines.
Founded on Jan. 19, 1946 by Manuel Roxas, the LP was the “Liberal wing” of the Nacionalista Party before it broke away from the older party. Roxas went on to become president of the republic and his story, in turn, would be repeated—in reverse—two decades later by a politician named Ferdinand Marcos.
In 1965, Marcos, an LP member who held the Senate presidency, became a Nacionalista. His reason for doing so would be the stuff of which party allegiances are made and broken. Diosdado Macapagal, LP stalwart who was president of the republic, had promised Marcos that he would not seek a second term in 1965. But Macapagal broke his word and decided to run for reelection. Marcos defected to the NP, won the presidential race and stayed at the helm of government for 21 years.
The LP prides itself in having produced five presidents of the republic: Roxas, Elpidio Quirino and Macapagal. Although Ramon Magsaysay and Marcos had defected to the rival party, the NP, they are nevertheless counted as LP originals.
Until 1972 when Marcos declared martial law, the LP and NP held an almost equal number of elective positions in government. All this changed in 1986 with the ouster of Marcos in a civilian-military uprising and the restoration of democratic institutions.
Other political parties burgeoned almost overnight and won seats in Congress that used to be the monopoly of the two traditional dominant parties, the LP and NP.
The United Nationalist Democratic Organizations, which was formed in the waning years of Marcos’s rule, would eventually be joined by other new parties such as the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, the Lakas ng Bayan, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the Laban ng Malayang Masang Pilipino (LAMMP), Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP), Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino, and others. That few people would remember most of these parties is a testament to the latter’s ephemeral presence in Philippine politics and the expediency from which they arose.
The LP would retain a toehold in Congress, barely holding its own in the political landscape in the post-Marcos years—until it launched a formidable team in the persons of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Manuel “Mar” Roxas II for this year’s elections.
But even before the campaign season for the presidential elections began, the LP had started rebuilding itself as a party.
The party supports electoral and constitutional reforms. Despite the controversy concerning the standard bearer’s position regarding land distribution for farmers, the LP promises to “enact a new and genuine agrarian reform law fundamentally based on the land-to-the-tiller-principle.”
It also seeks to break up monopolies in public utilities, agricultural trade and energy generation and distribution, to apply business incentives to all “except for the industries targeted for accelerated development.”
Declaring its commitment to a “genuine multi-party system,” the LP also declares its support for the adoption of a new election code that prohibits political dynasties (an irony considering that its presidential and vice presidential candidates are both descendants of political families), installs the full computerization of elections, enforces stricter accountability, and simplifies the election process.
On taxation, the party states that its long-term aim is “to shift the burden of taxation away from the things the country needs more of—income, saving and value added—and on to the things we want less of, such as pollution and resource depletion.”
And on wages, the LP favors decentralized wage bargaining. It plans to “spread employee ownership and participation” so that wages could be set “according to the profitability of individual firms.”
From Vera Files (http://verafiles.org/2010/04/20/liberal-party/)