Political dynasties and party-lists

Political dynasties and party-lists Featured

ELECTION 2022 has merely affirmed political dynasties as a fact of the nation's life. Long entrenched in the fringes of local politics, it has burst into center stage with the return of the Marcoses and their complete rehabilitation as the premier Philippine family dynasty. This would not have been possible without the enabling role of President Duterte, founder of a newly minted but full-fledged political dynasty himself. But come June 30, he will be reduced to a titulary, passing the torch to a capable daughter, Vice President Sara.

The merger of these political families may have been foreordained given that the Duterte pere was once a Cabinet member of Ferdinand and perhaps to reciprocate, Duterte gave preferential treatment to Ferdinand's cadaver allowing him a state burial although he has of late turned cold to the son. The fruits of this alliance, however, gave credence to the existence of the mythical loyalty of the Solid North as Ferdinand Makoy's legacy; a template for what the Deegong may have been undertaking for the evolving South as his own legacy.

But the success or failure of the union of the two dominant families may be defined further by how their respective progeny accumulate influence and participate in governance. Competition for power between dominant families is inevitable as only one must remain on top of the totem pole, as it were. Offhand, Marcos has the deeper bench in contrast to the Duterte's shallow team — given the differential role of a VP. But I'm afraid, the political dynasties are here to stay for the next generations.

Marcos-Duterte elected officials

As of this writing the Marcos clan has captured several elective posts. The son of the president-elect, Sandro, will sit as congressman for the first district of Ilocos Norte while Senator Imee's son, Matthew Manotoc, has been proclaimed governor of the province. A cousin-in-law, Cecilia Araneta Marcos, is vice governor. The second district of Ilocos Norte is Congressman Barba's, a relative. Michael Marcos Keon is Laoag city mayor.

In the Visayas, BBM's cousins were reelected: Alfred Romualdez as mayor of Tacloban and Martin as congressman of the first district. He is touted to be the incoming House speaker while his wife Yedda may assume a party-list post. These do not include the number of councilors and board members in the provinces and cities in the North.

In Davao City, Vice President Sara's brother, incumbent vice mayor Sebastian "Baste", succeeded her as city mayor. Her older brother, Paolo "Polong", was reelected first district representative.

Marcos-Duterte Senate

The configuration in the Senate could even be more scandalous. Anti-federalist senator Cynthia Villar, the wife of the former House speaker and erstwhile Senate president Manny Villar would be joined by Duterte's former Public Works secretary, Mark, Cynthia's son.

Alan Cayetano, the Deegong's former Foreign Affairs secretary who also served as House speaker, will join his sister Senator Pia, who has already served two Senate terms and one as congressman. They are children of dynasty founder, the late senator Rene Cayetano of Taguig.

Former President Erap's children, half-brothers JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada, may get into the Senate together. Jinggoy, out on bail on a plunder case, is the son of former senator Loi Estrada.

If former vice president Jojo Binay had successfully gotten a seat, he would have joined his daughter Senator Nancy in the chamber.

Cory EDSA forces and 1987 Constitution

The current realities could be the zenith of a trajectory in Philippine politics that began 36 years ago with the expulsion of Ferdinand Marcos and the subsequent adoption of the 1987 Constitution that was meant to be the anti-thesis of the 1973 Marcos Constitution. Cory Aquino, at the head of a revolutionary government, sought to craft a constitution that was precisely constructed to prevent the recurrence of martial law and the conditions which allowed the emergence of a despot.

Her concept of a new politics of inclusivity mirrored the aspirations of the forces that helped her and the country topple the dictatorship. This was an eclectic group that ran the gamut of the political spectrum, from the leftist and communist groups who were fence-sitters during the EDSA uprising biding their time to take on a more substantial role or capture the uprising after the fact; to the rightist militarists who provided the spark for the breakaway led by a component of the Marcos clique opting for a coup d'état.

These two extremes failed simply because they were unable to champion the aspirations of most of the people in the wide middle of the political spectrum; from the left of center civil society and NGOs and people's organizations (POs) to the right of center business groups, the oligarchs and elites who were disgruntled by Marcos replacing them with his own. The Catholic Church hierarchy provided the thread that stitched these disparate groups together providing a semblance of moral underpinnings. They found their voice in the motley rabble which proved to work well with the masses. This was the "parliament of the streets" who for years symbolized their disgust for a regime and vocal enough to protest with their feet proving to be thorns on the conjugal dictatorship's side.

It was these motley groups populist demands that were ensconced in that constitution, producing instead the systemic dysfunctions, including a multi-party system scattering the seeds of political dynasties in all levels of governance. These effectively destroyed the ideological underpinnings of political parties, reducing them to personality-based political groupings.

Parliamentary govt and party-lists

The original intent of the selected elitist framers of the 1987 Constitution was to shift to a parliamentary form of government from a presidential system. Briefly, parliamentary system is also known as party government," as the political parties have ascendancy over personalities and because of the pivotal role of political parties in parliamentary elections, governance, and public administrations.

A parliament therefore is composed of elected members from the parliamentary districts, plus those chosen on the basis of "proportional representation" by the political party according to the votes each party obtained in the preceding elections.

The members chosen by the political parties were to constitute a certain percentage of the total number of members of parliament (MP) — for example, 30 percent. The political parties vying for power shall ensure that in the 30 percent "party list," the labor, peasant, urban poor, veterans, indigenous people communities, women, youth, differently abled, except the religious sector, are properly represented. These were the Cory forces that were to be the beneficiaries of the EDSA revolution.

Parliamentary government required the creation of strong, vibrant and ideologically differentiated political parties. Elections would involve the choice of political platforms instead of focusing on personalities. Political parties would have to select from among themselves the best and brightest to lead their parties and the country.

But the parliamentary government was not approved, and the framers reverted to the presidential system while inadvertently retaining the "party list." The effect was that any group with a legitimate or contrived issue or gripe, or worse, any political family, could vie for elective posts. This opened the floodgates to relatives of elective officials or temporary dumping grounds for election losers.

Thus, political dynasties and party-lists — both perversions.

 

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