Rethinking Political Dynasties

Abstract / Excerpt:

Why do we need to rethink political dynasties? Is it not common knowledge now that traditional political families are the most despised feature of Philippine politics? Was not this sentiment passionately manifested in the Anti-Epal campaign that bombarded social media in the months preceding the last elections? In fact, was not the result of the May 2013 elections an unequivocal illustration of the Filipinos' revolt against family dynasties in public office?

Full Text

Rationale for the Rethinking Process

Why do we need to rethink political dynasties? Is it not common knowledge now that traditional political families are the most despised feature of Philippine politics? Was not this sentiment passionately manifested in the Anti-Epal campaign that bombarded social media in the months preceding the last elections? In fact, was not the result of the May 2013 elections an unequivocal illustration of the Filipinos' revolt against family dynasties in public office?

I remember appearing before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) during the chairmanship of a political family patriarch (Benjamin Abalos). I was advocating for a client who was publicly indicated in campaign attacks as "guilty" of being in a political dynasty. Our contention was that since there was no provision under current election laws, which criminalize the existence of political dynasties, campaign materials pronouncing guilt as if there was such a proscription constitutes undue harassment on its target candidate. it was a novel argument but sadly the petition was eventually mooted for as the general public now knows, in the 2007 elections Senator Koko Pimentel had to face off with a more sinister election adversary.

I am relating this personal experience simply to demonstrate that there is something objectively disagreeable with politicians who are part of political dynasties running (and competing) for public office. Pertinently, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) blog cited here reported that candidates belonging to 10 of the 20 well-entrenched political families lost their grip on power in the last elections. Sadly, this result seems terribly insignificant in the light of the overall political landscape of the nation as illustrated by the current composition of the Senate with siblings and scions making up this formerly august body. In fact, the reality after the election dust settled last May 2013 still shows that "at least 55 political families will have each controlled an elective post for 20 to 40 years straight." Political clans are still a prominent feature of modern Philippine politics. Political clans are still a prominent feature of modern Philippine politics. Political power is still concentrated on a select segment of the polity that is relatively unchanged. The family names may have changed, but the quality of those who wield the power has not.

Info
Source JournalMindanao Law Journal
Journal VolumeMindanao Law Journal Vol. 5 No. 5
AuthorsAtty. Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco
Page Count17
Place of PublicationDavao City
Original Publication DateJanuary 1, 2014
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