How PDP-Laban began
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2017 - 4:00pm

The book Martial Law in the Philippines: My Story by Aquilino Pimentel Q. Pimentel Jr. is the story about the experiences of the author and his family underwent during the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos.  It also is a precious historical document of critical moments in our nation’s history during that period. In the foreword of the book, Corazon Aquino wrote: “Thank you Nene for telling us your story. While it evokes nostalgia in those of us who marched with you during the martial law years, it should inspire present and future generations of leaders to take the road less travelled and march to the different drum of principled politics.”

In his introduction to the book, the human rights activist, former Senator Joker Arroyo wrote: “Get hold of it, read it, keep it always in view. Before a collective experience can become a shaping influence on a people, someone must first make sense of it for them. Nene Pimentel has done that pre-eminently well in this book.” I have followed Joker’s advice.

There are many stories in this book which are still relevant today. One of them is the story of how PDP-LABAN begun.

Rise of the PDP

The story is narrated in Chapter 24 of the book. Nene writes: “At this time, the country was being rent asunder by rebel guns that challenged martial law. The situation appeared to confront the people with only two alternatives: support martial law or go for rebellion. A number of us – first in Mindanao and then in the Visayas – thought that we should offer our people a third peaceful, nonviolent choice. That was the basic conceptual framework that led to the birth of the PDP....I got in touch with my former colleague in the Constitutional convention, Samuel Ocena in Davao, and suggested that we get a political party organized to fight Marcos on the political front.”

The PDP was started in Mindanao as the two recruited activists  – Nene in Northern Mindanao and Sammy in Southern Mindanao. They started recruiting in the Visayas starting with Nene’s high school classmate Tony Cuenca and activists from Cebu, Negros Occidental, Aklan, Masbate, Samar and Leyte. 

The PDP then branched out to Luzon where it received support from Lorenzo Tanada, Luis Jose, Jaime Ferrer, Tito Guingona, activists from the cause-oriented group KASAPI and Bicol Saro.

Birth of the PDP

The PDP was officially launched on Feb. 6, 1982 in Cebu City. Nene writes: “We chose Cebu City as the site of the founding convention of PDP. The city had an unmatched historical value as the place where the first Filipino successful resistance to foreign imperialism occurred. Its central location, in relation to the rest of the country was also a pragmatic consideration why it was chosen as the convention site. Delegates from Luzon, the other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao could come by boat and save on expenses.

For the launching of the PDP, we limited the number of delegates to 150 for the entire country, or 50 delegates only for each of the main regions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao...At least four times the cap of 150 delegates or about 600 people attended the formal organization of the party. To our pleasant surprise, we did not have any deficit in our finances because the delegates paid their fares and their hotel accommodations, and contributed to the expenses for the food at the convention.” 

Senator Lorenzo Tanada was elected honorary chair of the convention. Nene writes: “I welcomed Lorenzo Tanada’s election by acclamation as our honorary chair...I saw it as an opportunity for PDP to become a national party. While we already had some members in Luzon at the time, the party’s presence was hardly felt there... But Tanada’s party, LABAN, was already a byword in Luzon because it fought Marcos in the Interim Batasan elections of 1978. Although, we – I was a candidate of LABAN in that political exercise – lost, we gave such a terrific performance as a team that LABAN enjoyed a high credibility rating among the peoples as a genuine Opposition party.”

Nene’s keynote speech was titled the Bridge Builder because: “ The PDP was building a bridge over the troubled waters of martial law so that the youth of our generation could one day cross over in safety to the land where freedom, justice and peace would one day reign supreme.”

PDP-LABAN Coalition

On July 1982, LABAN, the party that put up candidates against Marcos, Imelda and the KBL in Metro Manila IBP elections of 1978, coalesced with PDP. The coalesced parties became known as PDP- LABAN and  became a national party. 

As the head of the PDP-LABAN, Nene was invited to speak to many groups. In Chapter 24 of his book, he quotes some of the most memorable lines from two of his speeches. On May 24, 1982 in Cagayan de Oro he spoke of the danger of the nation falling into the “eroticism of violence.” Nene writes: “I cited  him [Timmerman] at length to lay the basis for my conclusion that, while it was not safe to condemn the extrajudicial killings in the country, we had to do it, I said: ‘To sit idly by is to be as guilty as the perpetrators of the violence which if left unchecked would destroy and make a mockery of all the things we hold dear like the sanctity of life, the values of freedom, peace and justice.” 

This is how PDP-LABAN begun...” a non-traditional party...with some ‘unusual’ fundamental principles like belief in God and in the dignity of the human being.”

Creative writing classes for kids/teens and adults

Young Writers’ Hangout for Kids & Teens on September 23, October 7 and October 21 (1:30-3pm/independent sessions). Speculative Fiction Writing for Adults with Dean Francis Alfar on September 16, 2017 (1:30 pm-4:30 pm).  All sessions are at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street.  For registration and fee details text 0917-6240196 or email writethingsph@gmail.com.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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