A break from dynastic politics is now urgent and compelling


Legacy politicians can get elected in developed economies without robbing the voters of their right of suffrage. The reason is simple. Contending political parties offer opposing campaign planks that give voters a real choice on what kind of government and policies they want. The personalities matter but not that much – they are just stand-ins for party platforms and principles.

Just look at the example of the US in an age of extreme political polarization. In 2016, voters have two options. The first is a political party that wants tax cuts for the rich, scaled-down social safety nets and cutting government to the size of a burrito. Tied up to the gun lobby, it wants the unimpeded right to carry guns even in public places and generally frowns upon anything that would favor the legal rights of the LGBTs. Climate science is generally considered a hoax.

The second party is the opposite of the first and the putative frontrunner of the second party even wants to strengthen labor organizing and raise the minimum wage. Instead of promoting “right-to-work,” which is a code name for destroying trade unions, the frontrunner is advocating the strengthening of the right to organize.

So voters have a choice. And psycho-analyzing the traits of a candidate and weighing on his or her gravitas are essentially pointless.

In these developed economies, what you get is not a pool of candidates with clueless, blurred and non-divergent views on governing philosophy. They stand for something and the party leader, once elected, will adopt the party stand on most issues. In short, voters base their choice on issues, not personalities, despite the losing efforts of mainstream media to portray elections as catfights.

Filipino voters do not have that choice. And this is the best argument to try something new and bold in 2016 – break away from our past and elect a fresh face as president. From 1946 to now is enough. As voters, the best gift that we can give to our country and ourselves is the will to take a break from tradition and go for a political face with no association with a political name and with no ties to legacy politics.

Indonesia, by electing Jokowi as president, recently did that. Why can’t we? If there is any Asean country that can’t seem to unstuck itself from legacy politics, it is Indonesia. With its umbilical cord to dynasties cut off, we might as well follow Indonesia’s lead.

Other than fulfilling that lofty ideal, the act of voting against legacy politicians and perhaps injecting the element of meritocracy into our body politics, there is a pragmatic reason for going for a fresh face. If that fresh face frustrates us, if he were to turn into the usual scoundrel, we can say we are used to that ritual of electing leaders who initially gave us hope and dash that hope later. No loss there.

If that fresh face exceeds our subliminal expectations, then there would be cause for mass rejoicing and celebration.

The gallery of presidential wannabes, this is another pragmatic case for voting for a fresh face, does not inspire voters. There is no single file urge to line up behind one candidate. There is no compelling message from either of the wannabes either. The presidential election of 2016 may turn out to be the year people trooped to the polls because it was a civic duty to troop to the polls.

Let us look at the gallery.

Candidate B wants to take us to a Utopia, via the replication of what he did when he was LGU head. Nothing wrong with that as his campaign is built on solid accomplishments, which many voters can see with their naked eyes. The problem is the taint thrown his way, which is more than enough to make the Tammany players candidates for political sainthood. There will be more, and before the presidential campaign ends, he will have enough corruption charges that will keep the court dockets busy for a century.

Candidate C can outtalk Dick Gordon, which we thought would never happen in the higher echelons of politics. The problem is that his talk is 99 percent about the failings of others. He seems so focused on finding the fault of others that he has forgotten that politics is about hope and a better life. He is precisely languishing in the polls because of this. He has forgotten contemporary political history. A black man promising “hope and change” can become president of the US.

Candidate D talks as tough as Bibi Netanyahu, from a big southern city context. He can take us to the next World War, just the way a minor assassination triggered the first World War. The main problems of the country right now are economic in nature and a law-and-order plank may not resonate with voters.

Candidate P can’t seem to decide on whether to run or not. She can’t seem to discern on whether or not the platitudes that come her way from the mainstream media and the pundits are for real. She does not even seem to have a gauge of her own strengths and weaknesses, on whether she can take on the presidency or not. One cannot run for president on overwhelming ambivalence.

Candidate R, at this early stage, has been tagged a loser. His polling numbers bluntly say he can’t get out of his political Hades and win the presidency. He is seen by the general voting public as an uninspiring flag carrier of heartless technocracy. If all polls say, “loser, loser,” then it is time to drop the dream.

All of the above are tied up, one way or another, to legacy politics. Rejecting them would not cause the nation grief.



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  1. It is very unfair to our country that as electorate, our choices is limited to the front runners in the surveys. There is one that is supposed to be qualified to the position but he is too corrupt to entrust to him the leadership of the country. Another front runner is bragging about her popularity yet she has not proven anything. She does not have any experience in managing even a small company. We do not need a leader whose qualification is only being popular. We should have learned our lessons from Cory, Erap and Pnoy. And the last one, as time progresses, his indecisiveness is slowly showing. He cannot decide intelligently and in fact he is being referred to as “teka-teka” in deciding matters. How can we entrust our country to these people? Do we have any other choice?

  2. Amnata Pundit on

    In America, if the people are fed up with the government under ,say, the Democrats then the obvious choice is to replace it with a government run by the Republicans. Here, the party in power since EDSA 1 (1986) and EDSA 2 (2001) has been the yellow EDSA Party cleverly disguised as different parties but all pursuing the same policies( what is the difference in policies between the Cory, FVR, GMA and BS Aquino regimes?). Today the “party” is the LP (LAPIANG PALPAK) which is as yellow as GMA’s and FVR’s and Cory’s parties were (whatever parties they were I forgot). But the narrative being rammed down the people’s throats by the yellow propaganda machine is that despite the yellows’ record, especially this one now, the people still prefer candidates being pushed by the yellows like Binay, Grace Poe and Roxas. Unless one thinks the Pinoys are really born idiots you know that this whole Binay-Poe-Roxas story is a propaganda driven story and does not reflect the real sentiments of the people. The problem is that these stories if shouted out loud and long enough by the captive media/survey agencies (like SWS) they become self-fulfilling stories even professional pundits who are supposed to see through the charade fall victim to it. The real political fault line is the one that separates the Yellows from the Contra-yellows, not the “fault lines” demarcating Binay from Grace Poe and Mar Roxas. THERE CAN BE NO MEANINGFUL CHANGE AS LONG AS THE YELLOWS ARE IN POWER !

  3. Bert O. Romero on

    So, who do we vote for in 2016? It seems that in the gallery of presidentiables you enumerated, nobody is qualified. But in the context of Philippine presidential elections where popularity and not platform of government is the dominating consideration in the choice of a president, why should we care if a candidate is corrupt, inclined to blunder, loves to hear himself talk and savage other people, indecisive and cannot make up one’s mind whether to run or not or a one- issue candidate who idolizes Dirty Harry?

    You are right. In the US, Obama’s hope and change message catapulted him to the presidency in 2008 in the same manner that Clinton’s ” it’s the economy, stupid” was his vehicle to the presidency in the 1992 election. But in the Philippines, who among our presidents was elected because of their message as embodied in their or party’s platform of government?

    Not the mother ( Cory) and son ( Pinoy) tandem who became president because of necropolitics or sympathy votes. Cory’s restoration of democracy stance was an after thought when people became convinced that indeed Cory was TWA ( talagang walang alam). It was never a message much less a platform. In the same manner that Pinoy’s “pag walang korupt, walang mahirap” , was never a platform for it was honored more in the breach than in its observance. And by men closely identified with Pinoy. Think of DAP and PDAF and now this animal called Barangay Acceleration Disbursement Program.

    GMA? Under hospital arrest. Erap ? Convicted of plunder . FVR? What happened to the AFP modernization fund? Marcos ?

    A cynical acquiescence to corruption as a way of life in political governance in this country has tragically engulfed the Filipino electorates. It’s sad to hear people’s lament ” sino sa kanila ang malinis ” ?

    So, popularity / personality / name recall vs honesty/ competence / preparedness : who will win? The former, hands down.

  4. Arthur Keefe on

    A very clear explanation of why the Parties should form into groups based on policies, not personalities. This works well in the UK, although we need more proportionality in our voting system, as smaller parties can get many votes, but few seats. In the election a few weeks ago, 2 small parties got 20% of the entire vote, but only 2 seats out of 670!
    The weakness of Ronquillo’s article, is that it titled an end to dynastic politics, but makes no reference to this in the critique of the frontrunners.

  5. It seems you think trade unions are a wonderful thing. You have them here in the philippines, tell me what good have they done here. We had that fire the other day when most in the factory died.
    Years ago in the uk we had a very strong trade union movement. It almost ruined our country. I was in one but i would join again voluntary no never. Its like communism, in theory its perfect but then put it into practice.
    You even made it sound bad that the rtepublicans want tax cuts for the rich, do you know by reducing tax for the rich the country brings in more money. Its just a fact, there are many reasons for it but its a fact. It seems you favour the democrats, you know those guys, $10 trillion is a national disgrace , its un patriotic, now under then its risen from 10 trillion to going on 18.5 trillion, but hey thats ok isnt it, our children can pay that back, its not to much to ask.
    I think you need to study their politics a little more as you were a bit one sided. Who would i vote for if i lived there, im a normal working man & i would vote republican every single time. Under them the country will prosper much much better than under the democrats.

  6. Phylliss Quinn on

    BS Aquino is the worst legacy politician–dynastic politician–we have ever had.
    He has done mpre harm than any president of our Republic, including the dictator Marcos. And he has done the least for our country as a 3-term congresman, senator and now president in about to begin his 6th year.

  7. If Aquino would like a popular legacy for him to be remembered by the whole country, he could have made priority bills the FOI and the Anti- Dynasty, not the BBL. The two bills will have an overwhelming and upheaval effect in our political scenario in terms of good governance and the fight against graft and corruptionHow I wish these bills will be his legacy not the BBL which is a source of disunity and dismembership of our country.

  8. The only thing that I can see is the LP has shown itself to be a party of self-interest. It is a party of people that will only do things that will benefit themselves. Make sure no LP backed personality ever wins an election again.

    • ang Lapiang Pork (LP) ay ang ang pinakamasamang partido ngayon dito sa bansa. walang ginawa ang mga ito, dahil kontrolado nila ang kongreso, ay doblehin and pdaf at imbentohin and dap na pinagkukunan nila ng pera ng bayan. ang discretionary funds ni boy sisi ay halos kalahati ng national budget. ibig sabihin hindi alam ng kongreso saan dadalhin ang pera, kung baga bahala na si boy sisi saan ibibigay ang pera.

  9. I beg to disagree with your statement “The main problems of the country right now are economic in nature and a law-and-order plank may not resonate with voters.” The economy is not our country’s main problem but rather the distribution of the resources and economic wealth of our country. So few people own and control our economic assets. The looming problems ahead are high crime rate, peace in Mindanao, and island-grabbing by China. All these law-and-order plank will continue to pester the next administration. Only one man can lead us in confronting all these and work for a better distribution and decentralization system (DDS) of our resources cia a shift to a federal set-up. Here is where I totally agree with your statement “,,, try something new and bold in 2016 – break away from our past and elect a fresh face as president.” Let’s go for change, let’s elect Rody Duterte!

    • William Obedencia on

      I agree 100% with you Mr. Lavina!
      The one thing that is holding the country down is the lack of peace and order and the pandemic corruption in the Philippines.
      I now live in Japan and have been wondering why Japanese companies and people in general do not go to the Philippines as much as they go to other countries. I was told that it is difficult and dangerous to do business in the Philippines.
      Japanese tourist still go to the Philippines, but they go direct to Cebu and bypass Manila. One of the reason is safety concerns and the dilapidated airports. I am for change and the only candidate I know who has the qualities of a good leader is someone who has a proven tract record and is not afraid to lock horns with criminals and scalawags in the government. He may not be perfect, but the again, who is perfect? Come election time, I will go back to campaign and vote for my next president Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte. If he fails, then at least we had tried something new.

      You are both talking BS abut peace and order. In Mindanao, the only places that have violence are those under the control of the MILF and their friends the Abu Sayyaf and the BIFF etc. The places that are under the control of the MNLF are peaceful and most specially the Christian-0dominated provinces. The Muslims are the majority only in less than 10 percent of the Mindanao territory.
      Until the government of GMArroyo and more heavly this government of BS Aquino ave importance to the MILF and made light of the MNLF and the Marcos-regime Tripoli Agreement and Jakarta protocols and the Ramos regime 1996 Peace Agreement, MIndanao was ghenerally very peaceful. Only after Malaysia began rocking the Mindanao boat did the issue of destroying ARMM and BS Aquino’s failed experiment description get much media attention. PLease do not spew misinformation about Mindanao.

  10. Thanks Mr. M Ronquillo for the above column, it is with sense of urgency that emphasis on political dynasties should be tackled vigorously, inorder for the voters
    to understand that the precedent menaced our political system that is supposed to be our engine of change. The wealth and control of dynasties has been agonizing for us Filipinos for decades . Poverty, as a result of political dynasties, leaves the poor Filipinos of no choice in picking good leaders that will effect change for our country;
    because voting is dictated by the stomach and not by choice. Take this theme for the 2016 elections launch by the po;itical dynasties “Caldero o Prinsipyo”..

  11. there will be no change in our government if voters allow themselves to be bribed by corrupt politicians. that’s cause and effect.

  12. Mangyayari lang yan kapag ang buong media at ngo,ay mag-oorganisa, na ilalathala nilang paulit-ulit na ang bawat kakandidato ay kailangan ipaalam ang kanilang plata porma o gagawin kapag sila ang mapipili ng taong bayan!
    Lahat ng pinangako nila ay paulit-ulit na ipaalam sa kanila,upang kung hindi nila magawa ay malaman ng taong bayan!
    Ang media ang nag-iimbento kung sino angmabuti tao!lalot may katapat na halaga!
    Kayo ang nagpapabuti atkayo din ang sumisira!!
    Wag ninyong isisi sa taong bayan ang lahat!kayo ang pinagmulan ng kasamaan!!tanggapin man ninyo ito o hindi!
    Kayang-kayang gawin maging mabuti ang gobyerno natin kung gusto ng media!at yung naglolobby para makuha ang gusto nila ang isa pang napapasira dahil ito ay pinagmumulan ng kurapsyon!dapat isinusulat ito!!
    Sana tama na ang puro pera,ang media ay malaking tulong para makapglagay ng mabuting gobyerno!magkaisa-isa lang kahit ngayon lang para sa kinabukasan ng lahing pilipino!