There’s a new kid on the block that promises to shake things up in the 2013 elections.
Organized only recently, the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) is quietly recruiting members to, in the words of one of its founders, “institutionalize an alternative to patronage-oriented political parties.”
“We have finally decided to institutionalize our political party. We will join the upcoming elections, put in office our centrist leaders whose programs are grounded on our core value of human dignity, and, finally, to reform our country’s political and economic system,” says Roderico “Jun” Dumaug Jr., CDP deputy chair for Northern Mindanao.
Human dignity its core
Dumaug says the CDP is a unique party, as it embraces centrist democracy, an ideology that has human dignity at its core. “It recognizes that every man has worth and this worth is given by someone greater than us,” Dumaug says. “Every man has the right to participate in the creation, growth and preservation of his community or society and is entitled to the benefits from the prosperity of society.”
Centrist democracy is popularly known in Europe as Christian democracy, which derived from Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. Issued at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the encyclical emphasized the need to respect the dignity of labor. It was transformed into a political ideology and was actualized in German politics after World War II.
Germany’s postwar chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, adopted the principle of Christian or centrist democracy and translated it into governmental programs and policies that led to recovery, lifting the Germans from their humiliating defeat in the war.
Beginning in the ’60s
“I think centrist democracy came to the Philippines in the 1960s with former Senators Manuel Manahan and Raul Manglapus as the pioneering advocates and we can even include known political personalities like Senators Ninoy Aquino and Nene Pimentel,” Dumaug says.
“It later gained support from young Christian Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s who fought against the Marcos dictatorship. It was also adopted by the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (PDP) and then it eventually became the banner ideology of Lakas-NUCD and UMDP.”
“That is their history, but the way I understand it, the entities created under the precepts of Christian/centrist democracy are not related to or part of one another. They are totally separate and distinct associations that adopted Christian/centrist democracy,” Dumaug says.
The CDP has its roots in the Centrist Democratic Movement (CDM) spearheaded by Lito Monico Lorenzana, who served in the Cabinet of President Corazon Aquino.
The movement gathers young professionals into a single group dedicated to dealing with the country’s political, social and economic problems.
A political science graduate, Dumaug joined the movement after attending a CDM forum in Cagayan de Oro City in February 2010.
“My wife, Lorelyn, and I both joined when we became interested in it during the forum,” Dumaug says.
“Afterward, I joined other young professionals from all over the Philippines in a training and conference in Samal, Davao, in 2010.”
The conference formulated the first statute and organizational setup of CDM.
“I was one of the organization’s pioneering members,” Dumaug adds, “from the time our conveners toured the country and handpicked every one of us and recruited young professionals up to its fruition today.”
The fruit of the organizational effort is the CDP, whose members are grateful to Lorenzana for bringing them together to pursue an endeavor dedicated to solving the country’s numerous problems.
“Most of us were already pessimistic because of the deficits of Philippine democracy and utter poverty in our country,” Dumaug says.
“It’s amazing how he transformed and encouraged us in this pioneering endeavor in preserving and protecting our democracy. With eloquence, he shared his failures in the political arena and inspired us in establishing an institutionalized political party. He told us not to let our democracy and governance be left to be abused by our traditional leaders.”
Free from patronage
Action begins this year, Dumaug says. “This year, the CDP will shake up local politics as we recruit thousands of members all over the country. Everyone is invited to join; there’s no discrimination here.”
Dumaug promises that by 2013 the CDP “will be envied” not only because of the number of its members, but also because of its consistency in putting its ideology and its principles into practice.
“Voters can easily [distinguish us from] traditional political parties because we are doing what a party should: We value our core values in all our activities, we pay our dues, making us free from the patronage of one rich person.”
“We prohibit patronage politics, we apply internal democracy and bottom-up approach to deciding important matters. All our members are involved in making decisions on political issues, programs and, most important, in electing our leaders.”
Dumaug is a native of Mindanao. “My father’s family is a mixture of Christianized indigenous people in Iligan: a Siquijodnon and a Lumad from the Halibas-Aguilar clan of Iligan City,” he says.
“My mother is the daughter of a tenant of one of the landlords in Iligan and whose family hails from Cebu. I would say that I am a true, blue-blooded Mindanaoan, for I am a product of a mixture of the roots of and the settlers who migrated to this great island.”
Pure love of country
As a child in the 1980s, Dumaug loved the TV series “McGyver,” “Airwolf” and “Equalizer.” He extremely loved his dialect and was passionate in studying forgotten Cebuano or Bisayan words. He also loved writing poems and listening to stories of common people like farmers, old people and indigenous people like the Maranaos.
He enjoyed listening to his paternal grandfather, a World War II soldier and guerrilla who regaled him with stories of heroism. His grandfather died in 1998 without claiming government pension. He believed that like any other young Filipino of his time, he should serve and defend his country against foreign invaders without any monetary or other material considerations. What he did was purely out of love of country.
His father, who, like his mother, did not finish grade school, stood up to both Ferdinand Marcos and the communist New People’s Army. While he opposed military abuses, Dumaug senior also sought to protect his family from the insurgents.
One day, an NPA squad came and the leader asked Dumaug senior for financial support for the communist struggle. In return, the NPA would protect Dumaug and his family from military abuses. Dumaug refused, and became a marked man.
Red bullet on door
“It was difficult, for everyone knew that our lives, especially that of my father’s, were in danger,” Dumaug says, recalling those dangerous times. “It was public knowledge that a grave had already been dug for him. We had heard news of entire families massacred. A red bullet was painted on the front door of our house.”
The Dumaugs fortified the wooden walls of their house. “Every day my father would remind us of what to do and where to go if something happened,” Dumaug says. “Every night, we would fix our bedrooms, put the lights on, [but we would not sleep there. We would sleep] in the kitchen, very near a secret door my father [built so we could] escape.”
When he was 8 or 9 years old, Dumaug’s maternal grandfather was accused by his landlord of theft and was jailed. He was already very old then and because of his age, he was treated leniently in jail. On certain days, he was allowed to go home.
“I often accompanied him to prison and I even slept there at times,” Dumaug says. His grandfather stayed in jail for two or three years, he says, but was eventually acquitted and freed.
“At a very young age, I personally witnessed the struggle of our family to survive, and how we were affected by political crises as ordinary citizens,” Dumaug says.
At family gatherings, he says, his father encouraged him to participate in discussions of serious matters. That’s how he learned to care about freedom and democracy and to this day, he says, he carries a passion for real agrarian reform, the emancipation of peasants, giving justice for all and protecting the unity of the family.
Aspirations, human dignity
As a grade schooler, Dumaug dreamed of becoming a lawyer. But in high school, his dreams changed: he now wanted to become a senator of the republic.
In college, he initially pursued a degree in engineering at Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).
In his senior year, however, he was elected chair of the Sangguniang Kabataan in his barangay. In school, he was elected an officer and later president of the student council.
Those achievements led to his decision that engineering was no longer relevant to his future course in life. He shifted to political science in 1996 and eventually took up law at MSU College of Law Iligan Extension. He graduated in 2001.
Dumaug is not a lawyer, though. He never sat for the bar, as he seriously pursued a career in public service. He was elected barangay kagawad and, later, punong barangay, serving two terms until he lost the 2010 barangay elections.
He also ran twice for a seat in the Iligan City Council, but lost each time. He blamed his losses on patronage politics and the experience inspired him to join a national political movement that aimed to transform the Philippines into a nation that is true to its democratic traditions.
He found such a movement, the Centrist Democratic Movement, which would lead to the formation of the Centrist Democratic Party.
“I am an advocate of respect for human dignity, as it is next to what is divine,” Dumaug says. “I advocate anything about human dignity, especially the dignity of the Filipino. Since 1997, I have been active with Gawad Kalinga and I am now a project director of GK Lanao and Iligan.”
Gawad Kalinga (GK) is a private socioeconomic program that builds houses for and provides livelihood to the poorest of the poor.
“Our core value in GK is the restoration of Filipino dignity,” Dumaug says. “We believe that poverty in the Philippines is not an economic problem, but [the result of] the loss of the dignity of the Filipino. That’s why we’re involved in building communities and homes and in empowering the poorest of the poor for them to live with dignity imbued with the value of loving God and country.”
And that’s why he was attracted to centrist democracy. “It’s my solemn vow to serve the country by making our democracy real and functional through the institutionalization of this party,” he says.
He is now organizing and will be campaigning for CDP candidates. “I am proud of what I am doing now—breaking the politics of patronage,” he says. “Someday, I will share this with our children.”