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POLITICAL DYNASTIES IN THE PHILIPPINES

By katrinaolinotse Mar 22, 2014 1692 Words
POLITICAL DYNASTIES IN THE PHILIPPINES
Last 2011, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago introduced the Senate Bill 2649, also known as Anti-dynasty bill which guarantees the Article II, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines which states that “The state shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” Political dynasty can be put in effect when a person who is a spouse to an incumbent official runs for an elective office within the same province or district as soon as the term of the incumbent officer comes to an end (Santiago, 2011). The said bill has been posted both in the House of Representatives and the Senate waiting for approval; however, Manila Bulletin published an article last November 23, 2013 regarding the Speaker of the House of Representatives Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. treating the anti-dynasty bill an “ordinary bill” since he noticed that the bill may have the same fate as the Reproductive Health bill and the Marcos Victims’ Compensation bill where it has the least priority, but were eventually approved into law. Putting the anti-dynasty bill in the least priority may trigger the citizens’ lack of patience when it comes to reform and hopelessness for a good future for the next generation of Filipinos thus political dynasty in the Philippines should be eradicated because it blocks the way towards progress, creates a gap between citizens and authorities as well as takes away the citizens’ right to choose when voting. Firstly, political dynasty should be eradicated in the Philippines because it blocks the way towards progress through economic power. Economic power breeds political power, and by economic power is economic monopolization such as landowning system, taking over industries such as mining, logging, sugar and tobacco production and linking to banks, financial institutions and tying up with international businesses (Tuazon, n.d). Having these advantages blocks the chance of civilians to have their own place in the economy of the country. A perfect example of these is the Cojuangcos, where the President of the Republic of the Philippines is very much related to. The Cojuangcos are known in the business, society and political sectors in the country. For once they hold the major share of the San Miguel Corporation led by business magnate Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. known to many as Danding, according to Forbes as of July of this year. Furthermore, according to The Varsitarian, they are well-known land owners of the 6,435-hectare sugar plantation in Tarlac, famously known as Hacienda Luisita which was involved in so many controversies between its owners and farmers for so many years. The political reign of the Cojuangcos started in the 19th century (What’s new, 2010) with Danding’s grandfather, Melecio Cojuangco as the Representative of the 1st district of Tarlac on the 1st Philippine Legislature back in 1907 (Cojuangco Clan, 2007). Nevertheless, the way the Cojuangcos carved both in business and in politics can help the future generation of Cojuangcos in preserving their name in both fields. However, not all political dynasties enter the business sector in the country, such as the Belmontes in Quezon City, leading them are the Belmonte patriarch, Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., who is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives and has been in the political world since 1992 being also the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Moreover, he served Quezon City for three successive terms, specifically from 2001 to 2010 (Vera Files, 2013) and was awarded by the Local Government Leadership Awards the Most Outstanding Mayor of the Philippines during his term (Leadership Information, n.d.). Following his footsteps in the political world is his daughter, Maria Josefina Belmonte, famously known as Joy Belmonte to her constituents being the two-time Vice Mayor in Quezon City, the same municipality that her father served for a long time (Vera Files, 2013). She has also been involved in many advocacies such as the Quezon City Protection Center for Women, Children and LGBT as well as YGREEN QC or Youth for a Green Quezon City (Vice Mayor, n.d.). This father and daughter duo is a perfect example that not all dynasties in politics have conquered the economy of the country as well. Secondly, political dynasties create a gap between citizens and authorities. Political dynasties have been creating private armies to intimidate rivals in politics thus intimidating its constituents to ask for help to authorities when they need one (Kenewas & Trajano, 2013). Furthermore, with their power, they can manipulate sectors in the government thus creating the abuse of the absence of check and balance (Simbulan, 2007). Many political dynasties are known for holding agencies in the government secretly to sustain their political power, creating alliances to those agencies to keep their power in place, just like what former president Gloria Arroyo who is also a part of a political dynasty, did on the 2004 general elections for instance, where she called Commission on Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to manipulate the votes of the presidential elections in some of the parts of the country. Evidently, transparency among the votes was blocked because of this event. Former Gloria Arroyo is also a part of a political dynasty, starting with her father, who also became President of this country, Diosdado Macapagal and two of her sons are in the politics as well. On the contrary, being a member of a political dynasty doesn’t mean corruption and manipulation automatically, there are still good members of dynasties who serve well in the world of politics (Facts on Political Dynasties, 2013). One dynasty that can be named is the Cayetano dynasty, former Senator Rene Cayetano, the patriarch of the family started this dynasty. Moreover, the Cayetano patriarch created a number of Senate Bills with an objective of addressing justice for criminal cases and restraining corruption such as the Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 51-96 wherein there will be an assigned criminal courts in the Metro and other cities to address cases involving crimes and the trial must be finished within 60 days (Renato L. "Compañero" Cayetano, n.d.). Having this kind of reputation, his children decided to follow their father’s footsteps in politics, two Cayetanos are in the Senate today, one is Pia Cayetano and the other is Allan Cayetano, known director Lino Cayetano also joined the wagon as the Representative of Taguig. Indeed, the three siblings continued their father’s legacy through numerous acts of public service, Senate Bills that creates a bridge to the citizens. Without a doubt, the Cayetanos are the proof that a political dynasty doesn’t create a gap between citizens and authorities such as government agencies. Lastly, political dynasties should be eradicated because it takes away the citizens’ right to choose when voting. Evidently, there are many political dynasties in the Philippines. According to the Center for People Empowerment in Good Governance (CENPEG), 94% of the provinces today have a political dynasty that is 73 provinces out of 80. Additionally, in the 2010 elections alone, there are 178 dominant political dynasties taking over the government and 100 of these dynasties came from old elites and 78 of these dynasties came from EDSA People Power I and after Marcos’ 1987 elections (CENPEG, n.d.). Indeed, having these statistics clearly shows how political dynasties created the politics in the Philippines and how they are continuing ruling and taking over the power. Although this may be true, having a political dynasty is a traditional politics (Cabigao, 2013). Studies show that since 1903, dynastic candidates have a bigger chance of winning the elections versus non-dynastic candidates; the study showed that the chance a dynastic candidate can win is 30% (Cabigao, 2013). According to Cabigao, citizens base their votes on campaigns based on personalities and dynastic support. Nevertheless, it is still up to the citizens to choose who to vote, even if the candidate came from a political dynasty or not. On the whole, it is clear that the eradication of the political dynasty in the Philippines will have a very long process; however it is also clear that it is the time for the country to have a just and clean politics so that the next generation of Filipinos may experience a government that is truly democratic. In a conference led by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, they said that “Political authority exists for the common good. It is not to be exercised for the sake of private and family interests or simply for the interests of a political party.”

Reference List
Center for People Empowerment in Governance. (2010, July 10). What’s new and what’s old in Philippine politics. Retrieved December 4, 2013 from http://www.cenpeg.org/IA%202010/DOWNLOAD/CenPEG%20Analysis%20New%20&%20Old%20in%20Phil%20Politics%20July%2001%202010.pdf. Forbes. (2013, July). Eduardo Cojuangco. Retrieved December 4, 2013 from http://www.forbes.com/profile/eduardo-cojuangco/. GMA News Online. (2007, March 20). Cojuangco clan. Retrieved December 4, 2013 from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/35032/news/nation/cojuangco-clan. Kenewas, Y., Trajano, J. (2013, February 6). Political dynasties dominate in Indonesia and the Philippines [Commentary].The Nation. Retrieved December 4, 2013 from http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Political-dynasties-dominate-in-Indonesia-and-the--30199391.html. Leadership information – House speaker. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2013 from http://www.congress.gov.ph/leaders/?who=speaker. Luci, C. (2013, November 23). Anti-dynasty not a priority – Belmonte [NEWS]. Manila Bulletin. Retrieved December 7, 2013 from

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