Politicians dilemmaon De lima

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

The release of former senator De Lima on bail after almost seven years in detention was overwhelmingly greeted by people in all sectors. The civil society, the business sector, the aware foreign community, and even politicians welcomed the news. With almost all of the prosecution witnesses recanting, the judge decided the remaining evidence was not compelling enough to deny bail. There was an overall sense of relief that justice finally arrived and that the Philippine justice system and other democratic institutions are on the mend. Except maybe the economically-marginalized population who are unaware of the story, 70% of the Filipinos, including those extremely partisan to their political patrons, are happy at the turn of events. The Justice secretary even predicted she will likely be acquitted in the remaining case.

The above developments show that the political situation/environment has been changing/evolving in the last 16 months to a more accountable democratic government. People are less intimidated by the government, there’s more freedom and respect of rights as demonstrated in the main and social media. There is less bashing and the trolls are toning down. In these current conditions, additionally brought about by the De Lima release, the politicians are in a dilemma as it has changed the Philippine political dynamics going into the 2025 mid-term elections. And this is on top of the overt/open breakup of the alliance of the BBM and the Duterte group, which already precipitated shifting to other political parties. This will make the independent voters who are from the informed lower and middle class the critical mass that will be enough to surpass the command votes of the political machineries of dominant parties.

While it could also be coincidence, De Lima’s release came at a time when the denial of the Confidential and Intelligence Funds for VP Carpio was done by Congress, and the BBM administration clearly shifted to the US on foreign policy as against Duterte’s pro-China stance. The BBM group is riding on the 80% pro-American sentiment of the Filipinos as it also aligns with the Marcos family rehabilitation strategy.

Patronage from the incumbent administration and the party in power is the main reason politicians shift loyalties. In the Duterte incumbency, there was the added intimidation factor that is now gone. If we look at the screenshots/videos now in social media of the senators who voted to oust De Lima from the Senate, and the congressmen who bullied her in congressional hearings, they seem intimidated and/or pandering for favors. Those events will haunt them and affect their political future, especially those running for national positions.

By the middle of 2024, the political battleground will be clearly defined in anticipation of the 2025 elections. All the Cabinet members except the Department of Tourism are clearly all BBM people, and by that time the drift to the administration party will be a flood, with even the local politicians shifting allegiances. Campaign resources and logistics will be important but there will be a wide opening in the national senatorial slate for Robredo, De Lima, Trillanes, and Bam Aquino fueled mainly by sentiment and lesser financial resources. The dominant parties now will have to fight for the remaining eight slots expending more resources, and their slates have to act more as independent candidates and less as traditional politicians, when voter sentiment turns sour on their political history. This trend could cascade down to the local politicians if the socio-political mood is in the direction to more democratic space.

Principled politicians are not and will not be in a dilemma over De Lima. There are a few of them and they get elected/re-elected on the basis of performance and integrity. The changing political environment and the break-up of the ruling coalition will expose the turncoats, balimbings, and the true leaders which may improve Philippine politics and governance. It is actually good when politicians are at odds and fight each other, because when they coalesce and join up, they rob/abuse the government and the people.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with