Total victory, epic meltdown, mixed result

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Ronquillo

The three main LGUs covered by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)— Bataan, Zambales and Olongapo City—have to be studied in-depth by those looking at anti-dynasty politics. This is an imperative. Because these three contiguous political territories with interlocked economies had very divergent takes on political dynasties .

“Divergent takes “ on political dynasties may be too mild a description . The apt description maybe this: On dynasties, Bataan voted with extreme tolerance, Olongapo City voted with utter disdain and Zambales voted with ambivalence .

In Bataan, it was a total victory for the Garcia political family. In Olongapo City , it was an epic meltdown for the Gordon family. In Zambales , it was an ambivalent vote for the Ebdane political family. How can three LGUs within one single economic zone and bound by so many things react so differently to big political families? Those looking into anti-dynasty politics have been completely caught off-guard by the poll results at the intertwined SBMA LGUs.

The results in Bataan represented a total victory for the Garcia family—all four Garcia candidates led by the patriarch Enrique “Tet” Garcia won overwhelmingly, the victory made sweeter by the fact that it came at the expense of older political families in Bataan , the Roman and Payumo families.


Outgoing Governor Enrique “Tet” Garcia, the patriarch , was elected 2nd district congressman. Albert , the elder son, was elected governor, a father and son swap. Joet, the younger son, was re-elected mayor of the capital city of Balanga. A daughter, Gila, was elected mayor of Dinalupihan, the stronghold of the Payumo family. For more than 40 years , a Payumo had been mayor of Dinalupihan. Now this.

If we were to rank the top three political families that mocked and defied the call to reject political dynasties, the ranking would be this : 1) Binay family , 2) Estrada/Ejercito family and 3) the Garcia family. The Garcia family had to be in the Top Three because what the family had accomplished was no small feat in an environment that was, ideally, hostile to dynasties .

Bataan is a booming economy and an emerging educational hub. The province is host to a Letran campus , a Kalayaan College, a PUP extension , the Bataan Peninsula State University and the Bataan Heroes College plus other specialty colleges.

One of the best maritime schools in the country, the MAAP, is based in the city of Mariveles .

Bataan has a strong middle class. Correction, there is a strong and discerning middle class that is , theoretically , the anti-dote to dynasties. Yet every member of the Garcia family that sought public support got 100 per cent public support, just like the candidates from the Binay and Estrada/Ejercito clans .

Olongapo City elections , in contrast, saw the epic—and totally unexpected—meltdown of the Gordon political family. Bong and Anne Gordon lost their races. Two nephews lost. At the national level , two senatorial candidates from the family, Dick Gordon and JC Gordon de los Reyes , lost.

For over a generation , starting from James Gordon, the patriarch , a Gordon had been mayor of the former base city–except for the brief stint of Teddy Macapagal as OIC mayor after the EDSA Uno in 1986.

After James Gordon it was Amelia Gordon. After Amelia Gordon, it was Dick Gordon . After Dick Gordon it was Dick’s wife. After Dick’s wife it was Bong Gordon, Dick’s youngr brother, who will have to relinquish the mayoral post next month. In 2012, just before the campaign season started , no one would bet that the Gordons would lose City Hall.

What made things more tragic was the fact that the Gordons used to be prominent at the national level (Dick was a former senator and cabinet member ) and dominate at the local level. This was the ideal power combination achieved by only a few political families such as the Binay, Estrada/Ejercito and Revilla families.

After June, the Gordons have to live with the fact that for the first time in almost a generation , no Gordon will be holding an elected office at the national level and the LGU level.

In Zambales, what transpired was different from the epic meltdown of the Gordons in Olongapo and the total victory of the Garcias in Bataan. It was a mixed result for the Ebdane political family. The patriarch , former PNP director general and DPWH secretary Hermogenes Ebdane won a second term as governor, but his son Jun Omar, lost in his re-election bid as 2nd district representative.

Zambalenos voted for the father but rejected the son . The expectation that the former PNP chief and cabinet secretary was in the process of building another major political family in Central Luzon was dashed .

The three verdicts on dynasties in as many LGUs covered by the SBMA show that voters react on a case-to-case basis and there is no overwhelming sentiment for or against major political families. The anti-dynasty campaign , while it had generated lots and lots of media mileage due to its high-profile and media savvy advocates , has yet to get traction and mass support.

Dynasties fall, dynasties rise, emergent dynasties get lukewarm and half-hearted support.

But still , what happened at the SBMA LGUs, should be studied in-depth. What made the Garcias tick? What made the Gordons fail and on an epic scale ? Why did Zambales voters voted one Ebdane in and one Ebdane out?

For now, only one thing is certain. The anti-dynasty crusade is a cause with more bark than bite.

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