IN the first presidential election of the Commonwealth, General Emilio Aguinaldo, head of the First Philippine Republic, challenged the candidacies of Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmena Sr. He lost. But the fact that the anachrontic leader won one of every three votes seemed to prove that the grievances that caused the Philippine Revolution were not being redressed and that the political party system had not gained public confidence. The incandescent issue then was whether independence was to be restored immediately or after ten more years of American tutelage. At that crucial point of our history, it was evident that the issue was being manipulated by foreign vested interests and their home-grown lackeys. Alarmingly, none of the existing political parties had an economic platform which could have guaranteed the stability of absolute political emancipation.
Juan Sumulong of the Democrata Party warned that political parties represented only "Philippine plutocracy" which included the "intelligentsia" and not include the needy, lower classes who had no representation, no voice or vote, in the formulation of government policies. Social justice was a battle cry along with the abolition of land tenure and share-cropping which, since Spanish colonial times, kept the majority of the population oppressed. Politicians advocated the minimum wage, an eight-hour work day and labor unions but no one seriously opposed biased trade acts and agricultural policies that smothered the birth of an economic system that could have nurtured Philippine national interests.
In his last speech in 1960, at the University of the Philippines, the late Senator Claro M. …