Philippines Table of Contents
In 1978 the imprisoned former senators Benigno Aquino and Lorenzo Taņada organized a political party named Lakas ng Bayan (Strength of the Nation; also known by its abbreviated form, LABAN, meaning fight). LABAN won 40 percent of the Manila vote in parliamentary elections that year but was not given a single seat in Marcos's New Society Movement-dominated parliament. After Aquino went into exile in the United States, his wife's brother, former Congressman Jose Cojuangco, managed LABAN. Cojuangco forged an alliance with the Pilipino Democratic Party (PDP), a regional party with strength in the Visayas and Mindanao, that had been organized by Aquilino Pimentel, the mayor of Cagayan de Oro City. The unified party was thereafter known as PDP-LABAN, and it--along with UNIDO conducted Corazon Aquino's presidential campaign against Marcos.
In its early years, PDP-LABAN espoused a strongly nationalist position on economic matters and United States base rights, aspiring to "democratize power and socialize wealth." Later, after Aquino became president, its rhetorical socialism evaporated. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, PDP-LABAN had the distinct advantage of patronage. Aquino named Pimentel her first minister of local government, then summarily dismissed every governor and mayor in the Philippines. Pimentel replaced them with officers in charge known personally to him, thereby creating an instant pyramid of allies throughout the country. Some, but not all, of these officers in charge won election on their own in the January 1988 local elections.
PDP-LABAN was not immune from the problems that generally plagued Philippine political parties. What mainly kept the party together was the need to keep Aquino in power for her full sixyear term. In June 1988 the party was reorganized as the Struggle of Filipino Democrats (Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino). Speaker of the House Ramon Mitra was its first president, but he resigned the presidency of the party in 1989 in favor of Neptali Gonzales.
In 1990 Aquino announced the formation of a movement called Kabisig (Arm-in-Arm), conceived as a nongovernmental organization to revive the spirit of People's Power and get around an obstinate bureaucracy and a conservative Congress. By 1991 its resemblance to a nascent political party worried the more traditional leadership, particularly Mitra. Part of Aquino's governing style was to maintain a stance of being "above politics." Although she endorsed political candidates, she refused to form a political party of her own, relying instead on her personal probity, spirituality, and simple living to maintain popular support.
Data as of June 1991