This week prominent leaders here in Australia and back home in the Philippines made headlines. One could not resist noting the parallelism between the two events despite seemingly to be unrelated.
Here in Australia, the opposition has finally laid to rest the in-party squabble by resorting to a spill election early this week. The divisions within the opposition, which is composed of coalition among the Liberals, Nationals and Greens Parties, stem from the government proposed emission trading scheme (ETS). The spill cost Malcolm Turnbull the leadership which Tony Abbot won by a single vote.
As an expat, it’s amazing to note that politics here in Australia seem to be dominated by party policy compared back home which seems to be dominated by the interest of a few or an individual. In saying this, I’m not suggesting that Australian politics is without any fault. Turnbull’s arrogance cost him the opposition leadership after he proceeded to announcing a ‘party position’ on the ETS despite the absence of a party consensus. Turnbull wanted the opposition to vote in favour of the government’s ETS scheme possibly to avoid a double dissolution election given how the opposition fared in recent poll surveys. His move probably was a strategic one for the opposition or himself.
Abbott’s ascension to the leadership meant that the government ETS will not be in place prior to the Copenhagen meeting this December. This could also mean a double dissolution election meaning the government will have to dissolve the parliament and call for fresh elections. The highlight of this event that I admire greatly is the contest of leadership based on utter disregard of party values/policies unlike back home that leadership contest could stem from self-preservation or anything personal. In the Philippine context, seldom will a leadership context stem from policy violation or disregard of the good of the public. A party member violated party policies and that individual, in this case Turnbull, was punished. Turnbull graciously accepted his party’s verdict and will continue to work with the opposition.
In the Philippines, political parties are just a means to an end. While there are prominent political parties in the Philippines, never in my memory have they made a mark about their respective government policies. It just seems to be a venue for individuals/groups to make their way to the government position of their interest.
There is one political leader in the Philippines, who seems not to get enough of ‘serving’ the Filipinos. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo recently filed her candidacy for representative of the Second District of Pampanga province. Calls for her not to do so fell on deaf ears. Even senior members from her own party advised against her decision to run for another public office. As one former president puts it, “she has unfair advantage.”
Two different countries, two different leaders, one was told that the party has had enough of his dictatorial leadership and he courteously stepped down. However, another leader is not heeding calls from different sides of society that what she’s doing is not acceptable. She will and she can, she might have another ‘Ampatuan’ in that part of the province. Who knows, she might definitely cheat her way to win and eventually land her job for years to come as prime minister, if she gets her way to changing the Philippine Charter.
God help the Philippines.