• Dynasties toppled by people power

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    head20130602Some of the country’s oldest political dynasties which seemed permanently entrenched only a few years ago were surprisingly evicted by the electorate in the May 13 mid-term elections.

    “Sure” winners suffered unexpected defeats to candidates who did not have their political pedigree, bottomless funds, and grassroots organizations.

    Whether for national or local positions, political heavyweights were felled by supposedly weak challengers, who proved themselves Davids to the dynastic Goliaths.

    The Gordons of Zambales were among the dynasties that suffered painful defeats, with former senator Richard ‘Dick’ Gordon landing on the unlucky 13th spot in the senatorial derby. Gordon’s brother James lost as congressman and his wife also failed to win the electorate’s nod in her bid to succeed him as mayor of Olongapo City.

    The sun also set on the Magsaysays of the same province, with their two senate bets—including former senator Ramon ‘Jun’ Magsaysay, Jr., son and namesake of the beloved Philippine president—failing to make it to the upper chamber of Congress.

    Angaras lose Aurora
    Outgoing Aurora Vice Governor Jerry Noveras beat by a landslide a member of the Angara clan in the province’s gubernatorial race. He garnered 51,211 votes, while incumbent Baler Mayor Arthur Angara managed only 39,696 votes. The province has 117,907 registered voters.

    Arthur is the younger brother of Sen. Edgardo Angara of Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

    But the Angaras remain a politically powerful clan in the province. Outgoing Governor Bella Flor Angara Castillo won the congressional race. She will succeed her nephew, three-term Congressman Edgardo “Sonny” Jr. , who was elected to the Senate.

    Although Arthur lost, his nephew, Rommel, won the vice-gubernatorial race. He edged out Novera’s running mate, Emil Etcubanez. He got 46,481 votes against the latter’s 35,456 votes.

    Noveras won in five of the province’s eight towns. He chalked up a 4,000-vote margin in Maria Aurora, his hometown, but lost in Dingalan, Dinalungan and Baler, the capital town. He attributed his victory to the people’s clamor for change.

    In Baler, outgoing Vice Mayor Nelianto Bihasa was elected mayor, beating his rivals also by a landslide: former Governor Eddie Ong and retired PNP General Francisco Zubia.

    Jalosjos clan wiped out
    The Angaras had to cede only the governor’s office. That’s nothing compared to the total rejection of the Jalosjos family down south.

    The patriarch, Romeo Sr., a former congressman in Zamboanga del Norte, wanted to run for mayor of Zamboanga City. The Commission on Elections (Comelec), however, ruled he was disqualified to run and hold any public office because of his conviction. He had served time in the national penitentiary for raping an 11-year-old girl in 1996.

    A younger brother, Dominador, suffered the same fate. He made an attempt to run for governor of Zamboanga del Sur, but the polls body also rejected his certificate of candidacy, also because of a conviction, for robbery in the 1970s.

    Comelec also disqualified Kapamilya ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala, a party-list founded by Romeo himself.

    The courts all upheld the ruling of the polls body.

    Those who were allowed to run suffered defeat. Another brother of Romeo Sr.’s, Rep. Cesar Jalosjos of Zamboanga del Norte, lost his re-election bid. Two of his sons, Zamboanga Sibugay Gov. Rommel Jalosjos and Rep. Romeo Jalosjos, Jr., were also rejected by the electorate.

    Also, Cecilia Carreon, a sister of Romeo Sr., lost the mayoralty race in Dipolog, the capital city of Zamboanga del Norte. His daughter-in-law, Romeo Jr.’s wife, failed to win as representative of the 2nd District of Zamboanga del Sur.

    As if that was not enough, Romeo Jr.’s elderly cousin, Mercy Arquiza, also lost the vice mayoralty of Zamboanga. His daughter, Svetlana, failed to win a second term as mayor of Baliangao, Misamis Occidental. So did Arquiza’s cousin, JJ Jalosjos, son of Cesar, as mayor of Labason, in the same province.

    Cesar’s daughter, Johanna Parreno, was also defeated in the congressional race in the 3rd District of Zamboanga del Norte.

    All those who ran under Alliance of Parties for Progress also lost. The group, founded by Romeo Sr., had struck alliance with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), but that did not do him any good.

    Only two members of the clan managed to squeak through: Bullet Jalosjos as congressman of the 1st District of Zamboanga del Norte and Bullet’s aunt, Rosalina Jalosjos, as mayor of Dapitan City.

    At a news conference during the campaign period, Romeo Jr. announced his intention to establish a strong political party in Western Mindanao “that would be a force to reckon with in the 2016 Presidential elections.”

    The stunning defeat of the clan has put that objective in doubt. Indeed, it would now be difficult, if not impossible, for it to regain its former stronghold. The Jalosjos clan, observers note, is now history.

    Widow defeats Villafuerte
    Elsewhere, Leni Gerona-Robredo dealt another political dynasty a humiliating defeat. The widow of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo beat her opponent, Nelly Favis Villafuerte, in the congressional race in the 3rd District of Camarines Sur.

    The Villafuertes, with Luis Sr. at the helm, have ruled the province for some 35 years now.

    The recently widowed 43-year-old lawyer won by a big margin, the biggest in the province’s history in fact. She got 123,843 votes, or 76.93 percent of the total votes cast. Villafuerte received only 35,160 votes.

    She managed that feat without dispensing favors, a practice the Villafuertes are known for every election. Indeed, Robredo was hard pressed to come up with the money she needed to move around.

    Villafuerte sought to succeed her husband, Luis, as representative of Camarines Sur, but the voters had other plans.

    Sometime after her husband’s death in a plane accident, Robredo took over as chairman of the Liberal Party in Camarines Sur. Her stated purpose was to call for a convention to select a candidate for congressman. She was compelled to run when the party threatened to disintegrate because no candidate was acceptable to the members. Besides, the members believed only she stood a chance of toppling a member of the influential Villafuerte dynasty.

    It was a double whammy for husband and wife. The patriarch,known in the province as LRV, ran for governor, but he lost, to his own grandson, Miguel. He had occupied the post for 18 years before he ran and won as congressman.

    It is said that Robredo owes her victory to her husband’s popularity and the factionalism in the ruling political dynasty. But she is charming and articulate, and her message must have touched a responsive chord in the electorate.

    It should be worth watching to see if the newly elected officials who were not members of dynasties will set up their own dynasties, or if they will adhere to the Constitution that calls for an end to the stranglehold on power of a few families.

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