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Monopoly of Political power

December 31, 2012 · 

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FR. JUN MERCADO OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate)

November 6, 2012 5:33pm

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We are about seven months from the May 2013 mid-term elections, but the early filing of certificates of candidacy has exposed in an “indecent” way the political families that continue to dominate Philippine politics since World War II.

Beginning with the Presidents of the Republic since WWII, the prominent family names that continue to dominate Philippine politics are Osmeña, Roxas, Magsaysay, Macapagal, Marcos, Aquino and Estrada. For the 2013 Senate race alone, there are about eight prominent candidates who are connected to political families: (1) Bam Aquino, (2) Tony Angara, (3) Nancy Binay, (4) Alan Cayetano, (5) Tingting Cojuangco, (6) Jackie Enrile, (7) JV Estrada and (8) Cynthia Villar. In the congressional race and local elections, the tandems of spouses, fathers and daughters/sons, and siblings are “indecent,” bordering on vulgar.

In my quixotic campaign against political dynasty, I have found a study entitled “Chasing the Wind: Assessing the Philippine Democracy,” a good exposé of the political families in the country. It is a collection of essays edited by Miranda, Rivera, Ronas and Holmes. The study identified by regions and provinces the major political families that have dominated Philippine politics.

There are about 178 political families in the country today. They have ruled and “controlled” this archipelago for so long. In fact, they are beginning to believe that they are “immortals.”   These 178 political families control 72 provinces, or 94% of the entire Republic of the Philippines. Of the 178 families, 100 (or 56%) are old elites (belonging to the Philippines’ political oligarchy since at least post-World War II). The other 79 families are new elites (post-EDSA 1986).

In real terms, the Republic of the Philippines is NOT the 90 or so million inhabitants of the land. They are the 178 political families who control, manage and own the economic and political powers of the land, from the time of Spaniards to the present!   In the same study, a political family is deemed to exist if at least two members of the same family (typically up to the 3rd degree of consanguinity) have won a congressional and/or gubernatorial seat between 1987 and 2010 (the period under study). A governor or congressman during the same period who has a family member who had served as president, vice president, senator during the postwar election is also deemed to belong to a political family.

According to former National Security Advisor Jose Almonte, “The monopoly of political power has prevented the true democratization our country – despite the introduction of modern electoral processes, the establishment of representative institutions, and the symbolic enthronement of the tao to political sovereignty.”

The 1987 Constitution bans political dynasties. It says: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties” (Article II, section 26). But the Constitution leaves the definition of political dynasties to Congress. After almost 25 years, Congress has NOT acted on this provision. And I believe that Congress cannot do so for the simple reason that it is controlled, managed and owned by political families.

I believe that it is high time that we, the citizens, put an end to the political dynasty that is identified as the biggest obstacle to modernization and democratization of the country. The 178 political families must begin to learn to subordinate their private and family interests to the larger interest of the Filipino nation!

There are people who make distinction between good and bad political families. Both the Cayetanos and the Angaras are batting for a different and acceptable political dynasty. The Cayetanos claim that what matter is the “clean” political dynasty. The Angaras claim that political dynasty is okay so long as the clan/family stands for something positive. Both clans totally miss the point of political dynasty. As Mr. Luis Teodoro says, “Both [Angara and Cayetano] entirely miss the point. It is NOT what a political dynasty’s record is or what it does that makes it either positive or negative; a political dynasty is UNACCEPTABLE for what it is.” There is only one way to send a clear signal of PUBLIC OUTRAGE against political dynasty, that is, NOT TO VOTE for anyone belonging to political families.

We simply have to say in an unambiguous way our NO TO POLITICAL DYNASTY IN ALL ITS FORMS, SHADES AND SHAPES!

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