Dynasties

9
Katrina Stuart Santiago

Katrina Stuart Santiago

It’s a joyful thing getting that the Anti-Dynasty Bill passed for the first time ever, even if only at the committee level in Congress. The timing is also perfect.

Because it’s been revealed that for many things, including the seeming bottleneck of relief operations—no rescue operations there, let’s be clear – in Tacloban, political dynasty is a critical part of governance and “public service” as it happens in this country. It is also what informs the corruption that ascertains continued poverty for the poor, more wealth for the already wealthy. Power for the already powerful.

That is not just a systemic dysfunction that can be changed by having decent, honest, incorruptible people—families —in government. This country has proven time and again, that it is risky business, if not an altogether dangerous thing. The Aquinos, the Marcoses, the Ampatuans —all dynasties. Dynasties, full stop.

Patronage as basic evil
At the heart of the discussions about the fight against the pork barrel is patronage politics. It is patronage after all that makes sure that certain laws are passed, and many others ignored. It is patronage politics that allows for taxpayer’s money to become pawns for the power-play between the Executive and the Judiciary, Malacañang and the Congress and Senate. Patronage politics explains to us why the money released to Congressmen and Senators differ from each other; those amounts prove that patronage politics does exist, and is a fundamental part of governance as we know it.


Declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the pork barrel funds are now in the hands of the President—a scary thing in itself. After all, if what is important to this president are allies, and if his tendency is to use this money to get Congressmen and Senators on his side, or get his priority legislation passed, then we just gave him more money to play with.

Now if the belief in alliances is what has made for dysfunctional system, imagine what the dynasty has made of governance.

All in the blood
Here, it is not just about kampihan, as it is about blood relations. Political blood means a name that can win elections; political blood means one family reigning over cities and towns, if not whole provinces. I’ve lived in Mandaluyong most my life and there’s really only been one family reigning over this city. Sometimes the name would change from Abalos to Gonzales, but no one is fooled by it; from the barangay level, it is clear which names are allied with the all-powerful Mandaluyong dynasty, and those names just win election after election.

But probably the more notorious—because more controversial—dynasty is that of the Binays of Makati, who have held the mayoralty post for years on end. Now Vice President, Jejomar has a daughter each in the Lower and Upper Houses, as his son keeps the mayor’s seat hot for the next family member or close ally. Nancy, who is now Senator, was an unknown when her bid for the Senate was announced; she was attacked for running for office with only her name and no credentials nor experience. She won anyway.

So did Bam Aquino, who is nothing but social entrepreneur and whose work as youth leader remains questionable. The daring to have run for the Senate, and not even go through the local government posts, just reeked of arrogance. Only those with blood relations to the President would dare.

The shamelessness is clear, isn’t it? And it need not have anything to do with whether these are families that we trust, or people who are not corrupt. To even imagine running for office, knowing full well that you are using only your name to win that position, already speaks of a kind of corruption after all. It also comes with delusion: “we” are the ones who can run this city, or province . . . or country.

Anyone who thinks these families winning election after election is the voice of the people is absolutely misinformed, and I’m talking to you, Senator Nancy. It is not the voice of the people when the people are left with only names to choose from, when they are miseducated and undereducated (on purpose, by the way) about how to vote and who to vote for beyond those familiar names.

We pay with our blood, too
There is no justice in a country where power (and taxpayers’ money!) can be concentrated within one family, one name, no matter who they are. Because we’ve also proven that more often than not, this means more harm than good.

The extreme version of this is the Ampatuan Dynasty of Maguindanao, a name now equated across the world with the massacre that happened on November 23 2009. The families of the victims of this 58-person massacre, including 32 journalists and media workers, are on their fourth year of waiting for justice.

Primary suspects Unsay Ampatuan, Andal Ampatuan Sr., and Zaldy Ampatuan have been in jail, yes. And hearings began on January 5, 2010, yes. But a conviction seems far-off. This is for a crime that has made the Philippines the most dangerous place for journalists. This is for a crime that had one Andal Ampatuan Jr. leading 192 others to intercept and kill with impunity the convoy of political rival Esmael Mangundadatu —all 58 people who were part of it, no matter their innocence.

This is a crime borne of the Ampatuan Dynasty, and yet the dynasty continues to wield power in Maguindanao. Sixteen members of the Ampatuan clan won in the 2010 elections; 80 members of the clan were running for various posts in 2013, and while some of them lost, one too many of them won still.

That is not the voice of a people who are given the capacity to choose, who are freely and safely shading those names on a ballot. That is about a lack of political will to change things; it is about the lack of an anti-dynasty bill that has given birth to this travesty. Worse, it is the lack of an anti-dynasty bill that allowed for that fateful day in November 23 2009 to happen.

Unchecked and uncontrolled, the members of a political dynasty can do whatever they want: stay in positions of power, or go higher than they’re used to; build a private army; spend taxpayer’s money, lay claim to a whole town or city. One has to think: where is the justice in that?

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9 Comments

  1. andres H. Corpuz Jr on

    There is no bill needed. It is the people voting them that should be educated. A dynasty is where power is relegated to the heir. In our country they are voted. So if a family holds all the elective post in a province they are not to blame it is their constituents who voted for them. It is also against the law where it is required that in an elective post one running must be a natural filipino citizen, of legal age, not convicted of any crime. It does not say there that prior to running a candidate must not have any relatives either by blood or affinity already holding an elected post.

  2. ha ha ha Mam it is only in the committee level as you said. Well better late than never? Anyway even in the almost impossible event that the Anti-Dynasty Bill (un altered) becomes a law, only the metro manila dynasties like the binays, villars, estrada-ejercito, abalos, gonzales,will be affected coz voters in metro manila are not really captives but practical. It is different in the provinces where the political dynasties practically owned all the real estate that counts and the livelihoods of its citizens. Samples are Chavit Singson of Ilocos Sur, Enriles of Cagayan, Dy’s of Isabela, Marcos/Romualdez of Leyte and Ilocos Norte and some few dozens more all over the archipelago. These warlords can continue their dynasties thru puppets and the voters cannot do anything or else lose ur means of livelihood or ur life or both.

    • You are correct. Our rotten political system is being run by Political Dynasties and while they live in extreme comfort from stolen or manipulated funds, the people live in poverty. The Anti-Dynasty Bill while difficult to pass shall aim to remove the clout of the Singsongs, Marcoses, Binays, Aquinos, Enriles, Estradas, Revillas, Osmenas, etc., etc., in their territories and replaced by honest Filipinos. Otherwise, the rotten political system being enjoyed by these Political Dynasties will continue until eternity.

  3. louie de la cruz on

    Well you have a good topic about philippine government run by few family. But you did not share how we can start and stop the wrong side of our politics. In my view to achieve this goal we need to educate or address the issue to our people especially the poor ones who were the target of politicians to get their votes either political dynasty or not. Also we need to invest more on education, agriculture and infrastructures with with these we will have a good creation of jobs anf employment. This will upgrade the living conditions of every filipino families. And start eliminating these crazy crooks politicians snd political dynasty. This is only my opinion what do you think? Thanks snd have nice day

    • We can start introducing an enabling law by peoples initiative which could be drafted by prominent constitutional experts.With this the congress,senate and executive can not change or veto the law once approved.Then we can increase the quality of those people seeking elective positions to at least university graduate with passing marks of not less than 2 or (85%).We can also change the quality of voters to limit the rights to high school graduates who at least worked and paid taxes for at least 2 years.(this will act as an incentive for people to at least finish high school), introduce trial by jury with the qualifications for jury also same as voters.If political dynasties are bad then dynasties in the judicial department must also be removed, so those people who can make judgement or decision makers can not have conflict of interest in any branch of the 3 branches of the govt.

  4. Apolonio Reyes on

    Last senatorial election, I was asked by a friend whom would I vote for for senators and I said independent candidates and Ted Casino. He then asked “Why Casino?, he is a communist ! “. And I replied ” I rather vote for one honest communist and who is not a member of dynasties than 12 Dishonest and Corrupt Senators who are Democrats and member of Family Dynasties.”
    The P10B PDAF Scams of Janet Napoles and that of Godofredo Roque involved corrupt suspects mostly members of Family Dynasties. That proved me correct. Is it not that Tanda, Sexy, Gwapo and Neil are members of family dynasties?

  5. Thanks for elucidating dlrectly to Ms. Binay who claims the principle of “Vox Populi Vox Dei” should ‘prevail’. There is no ‘real’ “Vox Populi” in the Philippines because of
    the use of “GGG” (guns, goons & gold) mode of campaign operations, as far as I can remember. She is so naive to appreciate this principle in its true sense. For this, she should not even involve God — in vain!

  6. Political dynasties must go. The electorate may not realize how important this is, so civic leaders, newspapers, broadcast media, and other organizations should band together to find ways to eliminate the concentration of power on a few families. The time to start is now.

  7. I hope the Anti-Dynasty Bill becomes a LAW…IMMEDIATELY, but these CORRUPT POLITICIANS will do everything to Block the passage of that Bill. I would suggest to make it a REFERENDUM SUBMITTED TO THE PEOPLE as soon as possible and it will Definitely pass…Wala nang gamot yong mga P_——- ina, mga Magnanakaw na Politicians na yan…Kahit itong nangyari sa Yolanda pinagkakaperahan pa ng mga Hunghang na mga Politicians…Doon sa isang bayan sa Eastern Samar, sa gabi daw nagbibigay ng Relief Goods at mga tao ng Policitians ang Karamihan na binibigyan…kaya sa gabi nagbibigay para hindi makita ng ibang mga tao kung sino ang binibigyan…Hindi yan pera ng Philippines ang Relief Good na yan, galing yan sa mga DONASYON sa ibang bansa…tapos KUKULIMBATIN pa ng mga CORRUPT POLITICIANS…para bang Nagdadasal pa itong mga Politicians na magkaroon ng Calamity sa Pinas…PLEASE CHECK and MONITOR….