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END OF AN ERA: Unknown bets beat Gordons, Magsaysays in Olongapo .

May 19, 2013 · 

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A controversial family dynasty comes to  a humiliating end.  For the first time in nearly half a century, no member of the Gordon family holds any government position. 

Former senator Richard “Dick” Gordon failed to regain his old seat. His younger brother, James “Bong” Gordon, lost the congressional race in the First District of Zambales. Anne Gordon sought the Olongapo City mayoralty post, to be vacated by husband Bong, but the electorate rejected her as well.

As if that was not enough, Dick’s son, Brian, and a nephew, Bugsy Gordon delos Reyes, were also trounced at the polls.

The David that slew Olongapo’s Goliath is Rolen Paulino. He won in all 17 barangays. He got 40,000 votes, while Anne secured 27,000. The third placer, Bugsy, got 10,000 votes.

It was a lopsided fight. By all accounts, Anne had 20,000 watchers who were each paid P3,000. Paulino did not have any.

“I just couldn’t afford it,” the mayor-elect said. “I had P300,000 at the start of the campaign. That was all gone on the eve of the election. I needed to pay for the gas, you know.”

The amount was, to extend the David-Goliath metaphor, a mere slingshot to the family’s estimated war chest of a quarter of a billion pesos, but the single volley hit the giant right smack on the forehead.

But the family was dealt its most humiliating defeat by Jeffrey Khonghun, outgoing mayor of Subic. He beat Bong by more than 35,000 votes. He received 10,000 more votes than his rival in Olongapo, the family’s supposed bailiwick. And seldom had he been seen here.

Did the people of Olongapo and Zambales heed the nationwide clamor against political dynasty?

Michael Ted Macapagal, a 41-year-old Filipino-American businessman who divides his time between Southern California and Olongapo, thinks the people have simply gotten tired of the family. And this time, he said, the Gordons had no choice but to respect the will of the people.

“The introduction of automated elections made it impossible to manipulate the result and subvert the electoral system,” said Macapagal, who had taken the time off to campaign for Paulino and Khonghun. “That is, if there had been such a plan.”

But Macapagal could be biased. He was the eldest son of the late Teddy Macapagal, who fought the Marcos dictatorship on the national scene and the Gordons at the local level. A human rights lawyer associated with the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), Teddy was appointed Olongapo OIC by President Cory Aquino but subsequently lost to a member of the Gordon family.

Professor Armin Santos, who teaches graduate studies in Aura College in Olongapo, agrees with Macapagal’s assessment.

“The dissatisfaction over the Gordon dynasty has been brewing under the surface for decades now,” Santos said. “The 2013 election results merely uncovered that fact for all to see.”

Santos claimed vote-buying was rampant in all past elections in the city. When that failed, he added, there was ballot switching as a last resort. In any case, he said “the outcome was never in doubt.”

The Gordon family dismissed the charges as the handiwork of sore losers.

“Outsiders tended to believe them,” Santos acknowledged, “but how do you explain the fact that the family always made a clean sweep in past elections, from the mayor, the vice mayor, and down to the last councilor? No barangay captain could win without their blessings, either.”

In power far longer than the Gordons, the Magsaysay dynasty fared worse. Like Dick, outgoing Representative Mitos Magsaysay lost her senatorial bid. A son of hers, Jobo, came in third, trailing Bong, in the congressional race. Another son, Vic-Vic, was fourth in the Olongapo vice-mayoralty contest.

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