history

PDP-LABAN: THE FIRST AVENGER

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There was once a time when President Duterte’s own party was not so accommodating to the Marcoses. 45 years ago, President DU30’s Party was the only credible and capable force to contest against Marcos’ Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) in the 1973 Batasang Pambansa (equivalent of today’s Congress) Elections. At this time the traditional rivalry between the post-independence Liberal Party and Nacionalista Party was dissolved. President Macoy destroyed the LP and NP electoral machineries, leaving only the dictator’s party with the national reach to mount a nationwide campaign. So, as Ninoy and the gang were reeling from the Martial Law crackdown, Ninoy decided to form his own party: Lakas ng Bayan or LABAN, based in Manila. Meanwhile, former Senate President Nene Pimentel, father of now Senate President Koko Pimentel organized his own alliance based largely in Cagayan de Oro – the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas or PDP. Uniting against the Marcos dictatorship, the two coalitions merged and formed, surprise, surprise, Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN). The same PDP-LABAN more than happy to serve with the Marcoses today.

So, as history recalls Ninoy lost the 1973 elections against Mrs. Marcos because of widespread cheating. Ninoy was the only person capable of defeating the Marcoses, so the KBL never had to cheat again until 1986. Yet for 13 years, PDP-LABAN remained a thorn to President Marcos’ side. Despite stiff repression, PDP-LABAN was able to organize in many parts of the Philippines. It created an effective grassroots movement that would become the backbone of Cory’s post-dictatorship government. It was in this period when today’s famous politicians such as Binay, and others (I’ll let you guess whom from our province was it’s biggest leader), began making their careers in politics: as anti-Marcos champions. When Cory took over, PDP-LABAN’s cadres were appointed in precious interim posts. Thus establishing many local power-brokers which endure to this day, including surprise surprise President Rodrigo Duterte — as a reward for her mother’s leadership in the Yellow Friday movement in Davao City.

How times have changed though as the former anti-dictatorship stalwarts are now more than happy to ingratiate themselves with the Marcos dynasty. Yet, for what it is now, the fact that PDP-LABAN was the second biggest threat to Marcos (after the NPA) and Martial Law’s foremost liberal opposition party cannot be denied nor should it be forgotten. When every one else thought it cool to be a communist rebel or a Marcos lackey, there was Ninoy and Pimental chugging along as best they could. When EDSA called 32 years ago, PDP-LABAN was at the forefront and welcomed Ninoy back into the country.

Indeed, PDP-LABAN’s contribution cannot be denied as “drama” or fake news. They were the brave few who risked life, property and liberty in a time when merely speaking out was enough to merit a death sentence. It was the country’s first solid Aquino supporter. The foremost supplier of yellow ribbons and confetti. As well as the group that benefited handsomely after the fall of the New Society. The recipient and heir to the questionable results that came afterward. Whatever it may now be, the truth remains that President DU30’s grand party was the nation’s first Yellow troll.

PDP-Laban: Ang Unang Dilawan.

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