Despite a constitutional ban on political dynasties, politics in the Philippines is largely a family affair where members of the same influential families hold various elective positions in government.
The constitutional prohibition in the l987 Philippine Constitution has been totally ignored by Philippine politicians simply because of the failure of the Philippine Congress to enact the so-called “enabling” law that would call for the implementation of such a ban.
In the Philippine Senate alone, there are two sets of siblings: Senators Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano, and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and J.V. Ejercito, both sons of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the former mayor of Makati City, the premier city and business capital of the Philippines, has a daughter who is a senator, another daughter who is member of the House of Representatives, and a son who succeeded him as Makati City Mayor.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd himself is a son of the late President Corazon Aquino and the martyred Senator Benigno Aquino, Sr., the most rabid political opponent of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos. The elder Aquino, now a national hero, was assassinated in l983 upon his return to Manila from self-exile in the United States.
On the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections, although they are still one long year ahead, scions of prominent political families in the Philippines are now jockeying for various national positions, including that of successor to President Aquino.
Aquino’s six-year term ends in June next year and he is barred from seeking another term. And since he is a bachelor at 54, he has no heir who could run for president after him. Although Aquino has a younger sister, Kris Aquino, a very popular TV personality, who is said to be eyeing an elective post in next year’s polls. If this happens, she will be perpetuating the Aquino dynasty.
In the Senate, there is already Sen. Bam Aquino, Noynoy’s cousin, who looks and acts more like Ninoy Aquino than his real son. Bam has the build, wide-rimmed spectacles and the jaunty manners and easy smile of his martyred uncle.
Aquino’s apparent choice to succeed him as president is Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who, like Aquino, is also a son of a former senator. Roxas is the son of the late Senator Gerardo Roxas and grandson of Manuel Roxas, the first president of the Philippine Republic.
Both Roxas and Aquino are the leaders of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) while Vice President Binay, who is running for president in 2016, is the leader of the political opposition, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Incumbent Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., son of the late President Marcos, is also reported to be interested in running for president next year. His mother, the flamboyant former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos, now a member of the House of Representatives, has been urging her son to run for president.
The rise to power in 2013 of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, daughter of the late South Korean strongman Park Chung-hee, has probably buoyed hopes of the Marcoses to return to power in the Philippines after almost three decades.
The Marcos dictatorship was toppled in what is now known all over the world as the “EDSA People Power Revolution” in February l986 that led to the installation of Corazon Aquino as the new president.
The political system in the Philippines, including the presence of political dynasties and the rambunctious campaigning during election period, is actually a replica of what is practiced in the US, the Philippines being a former American colony.
In the US, the Bush dynasty is now trying to make a comeback after a hiatus of eight years during the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat. The apparently dominant faction among the Republicans is now pushing for former Florida Governor Jed Bush to run for US President, who, if he wins, will be the third Bush to rule the US after his brother, former President George W. Bush and his father, former President George Bush, Sr.
Former Senator Hillary Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton, is now campaigning to be the Democratic candidate for president in next year’s elections.
In the Philippines, just like in the US, politics is really “all in the family.”