The Family Business: Political Dynasties in the Philippines

The Family Business: Political Dynasties in the Philippines


                In the Philippines, political dynasties are as common as flu. If you’ve been living in the same city or province for the last 30 years, you’ve probably seen the same surname on project posters and billboards. The same surname for mayors, baranggay captains, congressmen and even the kagawads. We call it political dynasty but it’s actually just oligarchy in disguise.

                What is oligarchy, you ask? It’s a form of government where in the power effectively rests in the hands of a very few people. These people can be royalty, wealthy or has military ties. In most cases, a nation under oligarchy is controlled by a few prominent families who would typically pass their torches to the next generation of power, leaving the control of the land in their name for a very long time.

                The Abads of Batanes, who have served terms since 1965, The Marcoses of Ilocos, and the Aquino-Cojuangcos of Tarlac are one of the biggest political clans in the country today. Some say that this culture of political dynasties started with the Marcoses and their cronies but the truth is, we’ve been exposed to this even before the Spanish invasion. As a nation, we practically grew up with political dynasties and that’s why it seems so normal to us. Before the Spaniards came, early Filipinos already established a political system. They had datus, rajahs and maharlikas who were the rulers and administratorsof the land– with the datu holding the highest power. They also pass their thrones to their heirs like monarchy.

                In a book by Renato Constantino entitled “The First Filipino”, he explained that when the Spanish occupied the country, they introduced a term called “principalia”. The Spanish officials assigned the former datu as principalia and entrusted him with administrative duties as an appendage to the Spanish government. Pretty soon, the principalia of every province/town got replaced with meztisos, llustrados, mestizo-sangley, creole, and Chinese mestizos who passed over their positions to whoever is next in line, bearing their surnames.It became worse during the American occupation were the first democratic elections were held. Families with lands and other properties are the only ones allowed to vote and run for office which was by that time, only 1% of the population. It led to the rise of elite power since they catapulted to national positions in the government and have been ruling their towns and provinces up until now.

                And look where it got us? Political dynasty in the Philippines caused massive poverty because only the rich and powerful get richer and the peasants stay as peasants. They made illegal landowning possible and hacking up all of the town’s resources for personal gain. They took control of our mining, logging and tobacco industries. They made so much money handing over lands to real estate companies. They have so many links to banks and other financial institutions that allows them to commit more fraud. These families have complete economical power over this country and we’re not even getting a single benefit from it. If we had, we’d be as rich as the Cojuangcos ,the Lopez’s and the Ayalas right now.They’re not running a country, they’re running a business.

                Last year, the Anti-political Dynasty Bill was once again proposed to the House of Representatives which has been pending for 27 years. The proposed law seeks to prohibit relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity to hold or run for both national and local office in “successive, simultaneous, or overlapping terms.” However, it has not been fully implemented because of lack of an enabling law. Last May 6, the bill has finally reached the plenary of the House of Representative. If this becomes a law, the Philippines may have a chance of reclaiming its Tiger nickname in South East Asia and probably lift the masses up from poverty—for real.

                Unfortunately, the palace already stated that it is not their priority right now. Well, of course it’s not! The President himself is a product of political dynasty from both sides of his family and 2016 elections are coming up fast. Now is not the time to be making enemies.


7 thoughts on “The Family Business: Political Dynasties in the Philippines

  1. Yeah I noticed this. Families battle for position in congress and senate. So they call it political dynasty where almost the whole member of the family will run on the next election. the negative effect will most likely be, the mistake created by the first family member who’s already elected years ago will be expected to be committed by next family member having the same family name by the people and voters~ I think, Political Dynasty should be stopped. there must be a better way to control this.

  2. I think that political dynasties are not much of a problem. I think the problem is with the political families themselves. They let their kids inherit their positions like business properties. But leadership is not a business! That’s what makes me sick, that corruption is very blatant in this country.

  3. Political dynasty is very common in our country because of the practice of putting a relative to or direct member of the family in the government office position by the incumbent. It is hard to break because of the Spanish influence in our society.

  4. Wala namang problema kung buong angkan mo eh nasa politika, basta nakikita lang ng tao ang magandang pagunlad ng nasasakupan mo at nakikita din nila ang magandang proyekto at hangarin mo para sa mga tao. Nagiging pangit lang ang “Political Dynasty” kung wala kayong magandang ginawa sa bayan nyo pero payaman kayo ng payaman! Naghihirap ang lugar nyo pero kayo padami ng padami ang negosyo at pera.

  5. Lahat ng tao may karapatan sa mundo dipende nalang sa pagkatao kung may dugong mapag mahal sa kapwa at sa bayan…………..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s