FAST BACKWARD: Political parties as ‘curse and blight’

At the speed the PDP-Laban has been swallowing up new recruits from semi-dormant political parties, it is not farfetched to see some of these cliques, i.e. Nacionalista Party, etc., moving to oblivion, moribund, dissolved, and dead. In the annals of Philippine politics, parties have been an indispensable aspect of strength. The stronger the bloc the more people are lured to it.

During the Japanese occupation, political parties survived only for a year. On December 4, 1942, four days to the day Davao City was bombed by Zero planes a year earlier, the Japanese Military Administration came out with an announcement that was curiously titles as ‘Voluntary Dissolution of All Political Parties in the Philippines.’

Why it was considered ‘voluntary’ when the Imperial order was actually a mandatory enforcement is actually a misnomer. Probably, the Japanese thought that a little persuasion was kinder than when it was outright declared as compulsory. The announcement reads in part:

“Today, all vestiges of American power and authority in the Philippines have been completely obliterated and this country, after being freed from the heavy shackles of American domination, under whose foreign and unnatural suzerainty she has suffered for the last 40-odd years, returns to her former Oriental self, and with courage and fortitude, proudly faces the dawn of a new day, the start of a new era, full of hope and faith in her glorious future.

“At this crucial moment in the course of Philippine rejuvenation, when the governmental, industrial, social, cultural, as well as other agencies and organizations are rapidly being renovated to conform more closely with the fundamental ideas and prevailing conditions in East Asia, it is most expedient and opportune that the existing political parties have decided, of their own accord and through their sincere desire to more fully meet with the present requirements of the country, to dissolve and liquidate their respective organizations for the purpose of fostering closer harmony, concordance, and unanimity among all Filipinos who are devoting themselves, unreservedly, to the reconstruction of their country.

“The Japanese Military Administration expresses its complete agreement to, and high commendation of, this decision and action of the existing political parties, to dissolve themselves.”

Putting the blame on American hegemony and politics, the Imperial declaration, without batting an eyelash, went on accused the United States for the “curse and blight” of the people and promoted its new agenda of Co-Prosperity Sphere, saying:

“Unquestionably, the most urgent and paramount problem facing the [Filipinos] is the extirpation of all traces of the American brand of politics and misgovernment from these Islands; the eradication of the ape-like mimicking of Anglo-Americanism from their manner of living and outlook on life, which, in the past, have been a curse and blight to the Filipinos, and to install, in their stead, a new system of things such as will assist and enable the Philippines to take her place as a valuable and worthy member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere—a sphere of common interest and mutual prosperity formed among Oriental peoples, with Japan as the nucleus and central force.

“The pages of history are replete with countless cases of governments being prevented from carrying out necessary policies by partisan strife and political bickerings which failures eventually led to the disruption, decline and, finally, the disappearance of the nations concerned.”

Additionally, the statement postulated that politics, which was introduced by the Americans as part of what we know now as democracy, played a role in undermining public welfare.

“A brief study of the political history of the Philippines reveals that there has always been a strong tendency among the people to believe that a democratic and representative form of government is impossible unless political parties exist. On the other hand, it has been the common experience of all countries in the past that it is an inherent characteristic of political parties to invariably place first importance on party interests and party gains, sacrificing, at times, the good of the people whenever these two interests conflicted.

“Furthermore, political parties have their origins and their very excuse for being only when there exists conscientious differences of opinions over fundamental principles and issues over governmental policies, but it has been the common experience of all countries to have political parties continue to exist and carry on their meaningless strife and bickerings long after any fundamental differences between them had ceased to exist. As to the conditions which prevailed in these Islands, the mass of the Filipino people is the best judge whether the political parties in the Philippines have always been true to their policies and platforms and whether they conducted themselves at all times in strict accordance with the highest standards of integrity, honor and justice in all their public dealings.

“Today, when the whole world is undergoing complete metamorphosis and social, economic and political systems of the past are rapidly undergoing drastic changes and adjustments, the time is opportune to subject the prevailing political systems and structures to careful scrutiny and thorough reexamination to determine whether they are in complete consonance with the clearly denned tendencies of the present or whether they should be drastically overhauled to meet the demands of the new age and conform to new deals and standards.”

The Imperial declaration sounds current, it is because of the fact that we have continued to embrace the same rotten philosophies that characterized politics even before World War II.