May 25, 2017 01:01 PM PST
SINCE 2007

Political Dynasties in the Philippines

By Dominic Marquez
Manila Correspondent

Political Dynasties have always been present in numerous democratic nations. They are an unavoidable consequence of the political structure. The United States, where the Philippines emulated its political system from, have the Kennedy and the Bush families. In India, the Nehru-Gandhi clan has produced India’s first

prime minister and contains to have strong influence within the nation. Colombia has the Lopez family and the Lleras family, where in each family had two presidents.

However, many political dynasties are limited to just father-son tandems. The Philippines has taken the Political Dynasties to a whole new level. Take the Binays as an example. The father, Jejomar Binay is the Vice President. His daughter, Nancy Binay, is a Philippine Senator, having won due to her family name as she has little to no experience to speak of when she ran. Jejomar Binay’s other children are Mayor and Congressman of the City of Makati. Even his wife once served as the City’s Mayor. Politics have become a family affair.

What is happening in Makati is not unique, it is the norm. This is the scene throughout the Philippines where families have a monopoly of the political power. 73 out of the 80 provinces have political dynasties according to one research by the University of the Philippines. Over 50% have from old political elites and many emerged after the first EDSA People’s Power Revolution.

The Philippine Senate is not speared as out of the 24 senators, only 8 do not have political dynasty ties.

To understand how political dynasties have grown out of proportions, we need to understand the root of the issue. Political Dynasties have always been presence in Philippine politics. The family has constantly been a strong influential force within Philippine Culture.

Political Dynasties can be traced back all the way to pre-colonial period. Before Magellan found the Philippine Islands, communities were already being ruled by political clans. The society looked to the datu, raja, and maharlika to for guidance and leadership. According to Renato Constantino’s book The Making of a Filipino, he stated that it may be due to the strong familial bonds of the people at that time that brought upon the prestige of the nobility. 

After the days of the datu, the principalia emerged during the Spanish colonial period. Many of these new local elites were descendants of the early datus and maharlikas. Being the administrator of the Spanish regime, they eventually came to own the land they once served. Along with the principalia, the illusteados, mestizos, and the like were the local oligarchs of the country.

When the Americans came and introduced democracy to the Philippines, only the local elite could participate. Many of the elites that have ruled during the Spanish and the pre-colonial era continued to be in power through the American period. Their wealthy and access to education have always given them an edge during the early part of the twentieth century.

Today, the local elites of the past still continue to rule the present. The Aquino- Cojuangcos, the Marcoses, and the Osmeñas of the old can trace their prestige from the early days of the Philippine Republic. New Political Dynasties like the Binays, along with the abundant clans that have emerged since the 1986 EDSA Revolution. They continue to have a monopoly of local elections.

Whether political dynasties were fruits of our political system or if they have always been part of Philippine Society, these do not matter anymore. What matters is they are here right now and they do not plan on leaving anytime soon. If they are continually left unchecked, political dynasties will forever be engrained into Philippine Culture, with no end in sight.