Despite the Constitution stating that dynasties have no place in the country’s political system, they remain so entrenched that removing them is considered all but impossible.
In the end, it is up to the people to take whatever action is necessary to remove the dynasts from office, with elections still the best way to do so.
In the May 2013 mid-term polls, a number of constituencies in the provinces voted a handful of dynasties out of office.
The message the voters sent was loud and clear. Fail to properly and honestly serve the people and the people themselves will take the right course of action of removing them. The old tricks of staying in office such as vote buying, charm offensives, and flooding the media with fluff no longer work, at least for a growing segment of the electorate.
This is not to say that the unworthy members of political dynasties will be so easily removed. A look at the Senate and the House of Representatives for the next Congress shows that there will still be men and women of doubtful qualifications, if not questionable integrity, who will be sharing the stage with competent lawmakers.
This is also true for the local government units, where governors, mayors and lesser officials will hold office despite their lack of solid achievements. All they can be proud of is the surname that they carry, and which was their ticket to getting elected.
The dynasties themselves have a ready excuse for staying in power: the people voted them into office.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, for one, always says that his family’s desire to serve should not be held against them. He sees nothing wrong with dynasties, and why would he? He has a daughter who was elected senator, another daughter re-elected to the House, and a son re-elected as mayor of Makati City.
And let us not forget that his wife was also previously mayor of Makati.
The country’s highest official, President Benigno Aquino 3rd, does not usually talk of political dynasties for the simple reason that the Aquinos and Cojuangcos of his mother’s side of the family are among the Philippines’ well-entrenched dynasties. The defeat of one Cojuangco who ran for senator hardly put a dent on the family’s hold on power, while the election of an Aquino to the upper chamber of Congress says that the family will still be a force in national politics in the foreseeable future.
Throughout the length and breadth of the archipelago, there remain dynasties which have been in power for decades, with nary a break in their hold on local positions. Every so often, they even manage to have one of their own elected to national office.
But in future elections, the situation will be different. Names alone will no longer be sufficient to win as the Jalosjoses, the Angaras, the Gordons and the Villafuertes, among others, learned last May 13.
Until the time that Congress finally crafts the laws that give life to the charter’s call for putting an end to political dynasties, it will be up to every voter to determine if dynasts running for office deserve their vote.