On Political Dynasties and How Some Ended in 2019 Elections
Political Dynasty is defined as a family or group that maintains power for several generations, a succession of rulers from the same family or line. The Philippines is not new to this.
MANILA, Philippines — This year’s midterm elections held May 13,2019 saw the downfall of some political clans in Metro Manila after they were defeated by their opponents as they vied top political seats in different cities.
The decades-long reign of powerful families were ended as they were unseated in the political races in the key cities in the Metro.The victors were composed of an independent candidate, an underdog and a newcomer.
The former Philippine President Joseph Estrada lost in a wide margin by his independent (doesn’t belong to any party) opponent who was also his former ally in Manila mayoralty race.
Estrada’s granddaughter also failed to win against her opponent, ending the 5-decade rule of Estrada-Ejercito in San Juan city.
A son of a showbiz couple ended the 29-year reign of the Eusebio political clan in Pasig City.
Former Vice-president Binay also lost to rival in the Congressional race in Makati city.
So what does this say?
Dynasties have been existent in the Philippine political landscape since time immemorial and still very much around today. It is not new to see a single family occupying all or some of the major political seats in an entire province or city. Relatives hold seats in both national and local positions. In my hometown, a single family of Chinese descent has been ruling our province even before I was born, probably about 4 to 5-decades.
According to the rule, a person can only be reelected up to three times for the same position consecutively. In my hometown, however, each member of the current ruling family run a different position after three consecutive wins (total of 9 years) alternately. The father serves as a congressman for 3 terms, runs as a governor after that then the wife takes over the congressional seat. The two eldest children also hold key positions in the province. Sometimes, they even win by default, meaning, no opponent. That’s how it has been for several years. But why? Simple; there are no better alternatives. No family is as powerful and as influential as theirs and nobody dares.
But with their long reign, small colleges have become universities, several farm-to-market roads and bridges were built, making it easier for farmers to transport and sell their products, more schools were built and more families were helped through various livelihood and subsidy projects. A lot of students were able to finish tertiary education through their scholarship and financial-assistance programs even before the free education law was implemented. I was one of the recipients. These projects were all possible because the leaders, who happen to be families, rarely receives opposition, thus, decisions are made easier and policies are implemented faster.
Although political dynasties aren’t all that bad, there has been a stigma surrounding it. Power can be passed on by way of ‘padrino’, a system where successor is endorsed by an outgoing family member to rake in support from previous believers. This is not only a show of power but an organized way of transferring it, that is why they are still surviving up to this day. It also plans the seed of doubt of conspiracies, of corruption and of division. The political arena has become a stage for powerful families and the masses have become mere spectators.
But, the recent result of the midterm election gave hope to many; that dynasties can be ended and that voters have been awakened from slumber. Each vote matters, and together, giants can be defeated. It remains to be seen however, this will bring about significant changes, and whether these changes be desirable for that matter.
clan(n):a very large family
vie(v): compete very hard with someone in order to get something
underdog(n): a person, team etc that is weaker than the others, is always expected to be unsuccessful, and that is often treated badly
mayoralty(n): the position of mayor
subsidy(n): money that is paid by a government or organization to make prices lower, reduce the cost of producing goods etc
tertiary(n): third in place, degree, or order
recipient(n): someone who receives something
stigma(n): a strong feeling in society that being in a particular situation or having a particular illness is something to be ashamed of
endorse(v): express formal support or approval for someone or something
rake in something (v): earn a lot money etc