By: Atty. Benji

Section 26 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution reads “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit “Political Dynasties” as maybe defined by Law”. Apparently, the enabling law that will define the parameters of the term “political dynasty” has been languishing in the archives of the House of Representatives for years, or even a decade now.

Can we expect the present members of the House of Representatives to seriously pass and approve a law that may compromise their political career in the future? Of course not! Because most, if not all, of the present congressmen and congresswomen must have came from family or families of seasoned politicians or political clans, or better still, “Trapos”, short for traditional politicians.

Dictionary has defined the term “dynasty” as succession of rulers from the same family or line; or a family or group that maintains power for several generations: a political dynasty controlling the state.

Political Analysts say the dominance of the clans has prevented the flowering of genuine democracy in the Philippines.

The only way to break up these political dynasties fast is to disqualify all present officeholders and their relatives, from mayor to president, from running for any office in the next elections. But that is not likely to happen, except under a revolutionary government.

For instance in the BICOL Region alone, political dynasties have been prevalent since time immemorial among the seasoned family of politicians or political clans, such as, the Andayas, Rocos, Villafuertes, Alfelors, Fuentebellas and Robredos of CAMARINES SUR. The Panoteses, Typocos, Timoners, Unicos and Padillas of CAMARINES NORTE. The Verceleses, Sanchezes, Alcantaras, Santiagos, Tatads of CATANDUANES. The Lagmans, Salcedas, Gonzaleses, Bicharas and Imperials of ALBAY. The Fernandezes, Espinosas, Butalids, Bacunawas and Khos of MASBATE, and last but not the least, the Gotladeras, de Castros, Gonzaleses, Encinases, Lees and the Escuderos of SORSOGON.

In the town of BULAN per se, political dynasties are also prevalent long time ago and up to the present time, we have the de Castro clan and the Gotladera-Gillego clan, (for the Gotladera-Gillego i.e, then ex-Mayors, Taleon and wife, Nena Gillego-Gotladera, and ex-Congressman Boning Gillego, a brother of Nena, and now, Olap, grandson of Taleon & Nena), and for the de Castro clan, i.e., then, Assemblywoman, Nene de Castro, ex-Mayors Luis de Castro, Vito de Castro and Guiming de Castro, and now, Rosa de Castro, wife of Guiming – all in the family affair, a family business and source of livelihood. And, I would assume that Vice President Kabayan Noli de Castro is not related to the de Castro clan of Bulan, neither Fidel Castro of Cuba too, he-he-he.

Atog ka, mapagalon rungkabon an “political dynasty” sa lado san local na politika, kay sira man lang baga an may mga (3Gs) Guns, Goons & Gold. Kaya pagnagbarakalan sin boto, permi na sira llamado sa eleksyon, kayang-kaya nira magbakal sin armas, o mag-hire sin daghan na mga bodyguards o mercenaries, etc…. Dahil sira an nasa poder, an panabot nira sira nalang an maykakayahan o karapatan magpugol san poder sa municipio o kapitolyo kaya hinihimo nira na hanap buhay an politika, habang nakaingkod sa poder, sulwak an mga kawarta, kaupod na duon an mga manglain-lain na pahanlas, porsiento, komisyun, kickback, jueteng payola, komisyun sa illegal drugs, illegal logging, o illegal fishing. Parasapasa lang sira san poder, pagkatapos san ama, sa asawa, sa mga bata, kamanghod, bayaw, belas, ugangan, hinablusan, singaki, sobrino, sobrina etc., balik gihapon sa pwesto an ama, baga lang san telibong, paikot- ikot lang.

Columnist Carlos H. Conde of the Herald Tribune, in one of his columns regarding Philippine political dynasty, wrote that ‘”For generations, political dynasties have dominated politics and governance in the Philippines. They are prominent and moneyed clans, like that of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose father was also president and whose son is a congressman in Pampanga. Another son is also a congressman in Camarines Sur. (GMA brother-in-law, Egie boy Arroyo is also a Congressman in Negros. But, Senator Joker Arroyo is not related to her either by affinity or consanguinity.)

There are an estimated 250 political families nationwide, with at least one in every province, occupying positions in all levels of the bureaucracy, according to the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, a nonprofit group that advocates more grassroots participation in politics. Of the 265 members of Congress, 160 belong to these clans, the group says.

“These are the same families who belong to the country’s economic elite, some of them acting as rule makers or patrons of politicians who conspire together to amass greater economic power,” said Bobby Tuazon, Director of the center.

Analysts say members of the dynasties have developed a sense of entitlement regarding public positions, while many ordinary Filipinos accept the arrangement as inevitable, which makes it difficult to change the situation.

Political dynasties were an offshoot of the country’s colonial experience, in which the Filipino elite was nurtured by Spanish and American colonizers. Even after the country gained independence, in 1946, the largely feudal system persisted, as landed Filipino families sought to protect their interests by occupying public offices.

When he was president in the 1970s and 1980s, Ferdinand Marcos blamed the political dynasties for what was wrong with the country and promised to dismantle them. He did, but then replaced them with new ones that he controlled. These families persist to this day.

Because Filipinos tend not to vote according to class, ethnicity, religion or even ideology, the Filipino family has become “the most enduring political unit and the one into which, failing some wider principle of participation, all other units dissolve,” Brian Fegan, an American anthropologist and historian, wrote in the book “An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines.”

“Continuing clan dominance is a product of the seemingly immutable and unequal socioeconomic structure, as well as the failure to develop a truly democratic electoral and party system,” said Julio Teehankee, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila.

The system is a vicious cycle, one that prevents the expansion of the base of aspirants and candidates for representation, Teehankee said. The result, he added, is a political system dominated by patronage, corruption, violence, and fraud.

Apart from violence, election fraud sparks the most concern during elections. According to the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, “fraud recycles the political dynasties and keeps them in power.”

“It breeds generations of cheaters and manipulators, corrupt politicians, mediocre executives, bribe takers, absenteeism in Congress,” the center said.

The Asia Foundation, which has been monitoring elections in the Philippines for decades, said in a report that “confusion, inefficiency, corruption and cheating damaged the credibility of elections and cast doubt on the democratic legitimacy of elected officials” in the Philippines.

Apart from contributing to corruption, the rule of political dynasties has other detrimental effects for Filipinos, according to several studies by watchdog groups, including the Center for People Empowerment in Governance.

For example, a family in power might not finance government projects in areas controlled by its rivals. In many cases, those in power would withhold government services, like health care, and offer them only during election periods. The repair of roads and bridges often takes place only during the election season, and a governing politician would make sure that voters know who was behind the repair.

Likewise, veteran political columnist Antonio C. Abaya wrote in one of his newspaper columns that “the Charter Change is being promoted as a cure-all for all the ills of this unfortunate country. It is not. Under the present circumstances, shifting to the parliamentary system, without first overhauling the political system and without first rewriting the rules of electoral engagement, will not result in any meaningful change.”

“Without first making these preliminary changes, the predatory “trapos” who now control the present presidential system will wind up controlling the future parliamentary system”, Abaya added.

Will the parliamentary system dismantle the political dynasties? Of course not. Why would the political dynasties, which have acquired their political clout and fabulous wealth under the presidential system, do anything to diminish that clout and reduce that wealth under a parliamentary system? It would be counterintuitive.

“As far as I know, the 1987 Constitution frowned on political dynasties, and there are or have been only-God-and-the-congressmen-know how many bills filed in Congress precisely to dismantle political dynasties, in support of the constitutional spirit. But none of these bills have ever prospered into law. They are all languishing in some dank and dusty congressional archive, never to see the light of day”, Abaya continued.

“Even under President Aquino, the principal inspiration of the Cory Constitution, the Cojuangco and Aquino dynasties flourished… So did the Estrada dynasty during and after the presidency of Erap, and the Arroyo and Macapagal dynasties under the present dispensation. Politics in the Philippines have become a lucrative family business and the fastest route to fabulous wealth”, said Abaya.

“The present presidential administration has had all the chances to pursue a serious anticorruption campaign at the highest level, involving the biggest fish. But it has chosen not to. It is inconceivable that it would suddenly do so under a parliamentary system,” Abaya said.

The more than 100 graft cases against the Marcos family have been pending for almost 20 years, and yet there has not been a single conviction. The plunder case against Joseph Estrada has been dragging on for more than four years, occasionally punctuated with offers of “reconciliation” if Erap would only accept exile abroad…… (Subsequently, Erap was given executive clemency of pardon by GMA, our government prosecutors were busy gathering evidence to prosecute Erap for plunder, then, less than a year after his conviction, GMA granted him pardon…, weird?)

Another political columnist Girlie Linao said during the last May 2007 elections that, per reports she received, in a southern Philippine province, a Muslim politician and his three wives are all running for public office in upcoming mid-term elections in May.

Up north, a husband and wife tandem are seeking re-election for mayor and vice mayor of a town in Nueva Ecija province, while the wife of the incumbent governor of the eastern province of Masbate is running to replace her husband.

All over the Philippines, husbands, wives, sons, daughters and close relatives are on the campaign trail in hopes of getting elected on May 14, when Filipinos vote for 12 senators, more than 200 congressional representatives and some 17,000 local officials.

In some areas, family members are facing off with each other for the same positions, while people from only one clan are running for every possible elective posts in their bailiwicks.

“Politics has become a family affair in this country – not in the wholesome sense, but in a way akin to the Cosa Nostra,’ newspaper columnist Ana Marie Pamintuan lamented, referring to the Sicilian mafia.

For decades, wealthy and famous families have dominated politics in the Philippines, concentrating power to the elite, promoting corruption and resulting in abuses.

While the Philippine constitution prohibits political dynasties, an enabling law that would implement the ban is still pending in Congress, and many of the country’s lawmakers oppose it because they too come from political clans.
Other long-entrenched political clans include the families of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and former president Corazon Aquino.

In the past decade, the country also saw the rise of new political dynasties, often challenging the traditional clans in their bailiwicks.

Senator Joker Arroyo, who was reelected last May election, said he does not see anything wrong with political dynasties, noting that families tend to take care of an area in order to retain their power in their turfs.

“I don’t particularly condemn it because it is practiced all over the world,” Arroyo, who is not related to the president and does not have any relative in public office, said.

He cited the case of the late US president John F Kennedy, whose relatives held public office even while he was still in the White House.

But columnist Ana Marie Pamintuan noted that while it was quite normal for children to want to follow the footsteps of their parents or for constituents to want good politicians to remain in power, some families need to temper their greed for power.

“Allowing a single clan to dominate the political scene in a particular area can weaken the checks and balances against the abuse of power,’ she said.

“In certain areas, long-entrenched dynasties also produce warlords who operate above the law, controlling jueteng (an illegal numbers game) and smuggling, and using murder to eliminate troublemakers,’ she added.

And, there you are, sociologist and columnist Randy David said the proliferation of political dynasties in the Philippines highlights “a bigger malaise” in the country, which he said is “the absence of any real political competition in society.”

“The problem…is our society’s lopsided structure of opportunities that allows a few to monopolize wealth and power, while consigning the vast majority of our people to a life of dependency and hopelessness,” he added.

Another columnist/reporter, Mio Cusi said that “political dynasties reflect an internal contradiction in any democratic institution. The Constitution explicitly prohibits their existence, since they preclude equal access to public service. Yet they continue to exert a pervasive influence on Philippine politics.”

“Political dynasties are expanding further rather than contracting. This is a direct contravention of the Constitution,” party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna said.

Ocampo added that while the fundamental law of the land requires the passage of a law to define the concept of “political dynasty” and disallow its abusive practice, legislators are not about to shoot their own foot.

“The Constitution passes on to the legislature the enactment of an enabling law to carry out that policy. The reality is that the dominant members of the House belong to political dynasties, which cannot be expected to legislate their own demise as a political entity,” he said.

Then Rep. Noynoy Aquino III of Tarlac, (now a Senator) however, viewed the issue on whether a member of a political family should continue in office or not, as a matter of public choice. “At the end of the day, people deserve the government they get,” he said.

Ocampo still maintains the view that no political family should exercise monopoly of leadership, especially if they have all the economic resources and political clout to do so. “The idea is to democratize, specifically, to give chance to ordinary people to elect their own,” he said.

Using a Marxist perspective, Ocampo explained that the emergence of the parties of the Left, Bayan Muna among others, is part of the struggle against political dynasties. “These developments are a direct challenge and response to the worsening situation.”

Ocampo referred to the party-list system as the “aperture” where the reactionary forces can enter and represent themselves. Twenty percent of the total number of House seats is reserved for party-list representation.

But despite the window of opportunity given by the Constitution, Ocampo believes that Congress made an enabling law that is “flawed.” It became a device to marginalize the representation for party-list since the ceiling limits the filling up of available seats, he said.

Although Ocampo explained the appearance of reactionary groups in Congress from the point of view of class struggle, he admitted that House members belonging to political dynasties have a function in the advocacy of the Left.

“We have been able to expand the number of House members belonging to traditional parties and political dynasties to support some of our advocacies,” Ocampo said. He described the support as “relatively consistent” from a minimum of 30 to a maximum of 60 congressmen.

Another political analyst and columnist Victor Montero in one of his commentaries last year said that “the defining character of the 2007 elections, says one observer, is the phenomenal rise of political dynasties. Congressmen, governors and mayors on their last term have fielded their spouses, children and siblings to succeed them. A number of senatorial candidates, meanwhile, have close relatives holding a variety of elective positions. And no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has two sons and one brother-in-law running for congressman.” (as expected, they all won in the last elections)

Outrage over the situation has given rise to a new group in Philippine politics — the Citizens’ Anti-Dynasty Movement (CADM). Ironically, its creation was spurred by the choice of senatorial candidates of the ruling coalition and the Opposition.

Roger Olivares, co-founder of CAD said that “the group went to work, digging up data which showed that family dynasties control over 75 percent of local elective posts in almost all of major cities.

Indeed, in the May 2007 elections, 10 of 23 senatorial candidates belong to political dynasties.”

According to Olivares, the dynasties control elective positions not just in a vertical manner (like when a congressman passes on his post to a son or a daughter), but also horizontal where the dynasty controls several key positions within a city or a province.

For instance during the May 11, 2007 elections in the National Capital Region, in Makati, Mayor Jejomar Binay is seeking a third term, his daughter Abigail is running for congresswoman while his son Jejomar is aiming for a second term as councilor. In Manila, outgoing Mayor Lito Atienza has fielded his son Ali to take over his post. A son-in-law, Miles Roces, is seeking reelection as congressman in Manila. In Valenzuela City, four of businessman William Gatchalian’s sons are all in politics – one son is the incumbent mayor, the three others are seeking congressional posts in the city. In the provinces, Senator Edgardo Angara’s clan lords it over Aurora: the senator’s sister is the governor, his brother is mayor of capital town Baler, his son is congressman, and his nephew is running for vice governor. In Nueva Ecija, the Josons have appropriated unto themselves practically all major political positions in the province. There are towns where husbands and wives are battling it out for control of the municipio.

“This kind of control definitely breeds corruption and mediocrity,” says Olivares. “It chokes the ambitions of other potentially dedicated leaders. We have not had potentially dedicated local and national leaders of consequence the past two decades.”

Olivares admits there are politicians that had done well and who have the support of the people. But these are few and far between, he adds.
Olivares believes that completely eradicating political dynasties is not possible without violating their personal rights. “We do not want to do that. At best, control or limits to avoid excessive debilitating abuse is workable. That is up to the lawmakers to decide.”

In America, there are also family dynasties in politics. The Kennedys have dominated politics in at least one district in Massachussetts for decades. But the Kennedys, Olivares points out, have shown dedication in public service and had to earn or win their positions. The main difference, he says, is how public officials are elected in the US and in the Philippines.

In America, there is very little of what are called “command votes” or “patronage votes” which is the weapon of Philippine dynasties. “Because of education, fairly good income, and good communication, Americans can make up their minds individually although there is of course a bloc vote–but that bloc vote is because of beliefs and other persuasions, not because of feudal dependence,” says Olivares.

For Dan Olivares, brother of Roger and executive director of CADM, political dynasties cause stagnation. “The rise of new leaders is set back. I don’t think there is such a thing as a dynasty that is one hundred percent good.”

The 1987 Constitution contains an anti-dynasty provision, a reflection of the lessons from the Marcos regime where assorted relatives of the strongman were elected or appointed to public office. The Constitution termed dynasties as anti-democratic in character.

Dynastic clans, however, counter that the constitutional anti-dynasty provision has no enabling law. “That is their excuse,” says Dan. “They quote the Constitution for their own benefit.”

There may be as many reasons as there are dynasties to explain the situation. One factor could be the Filipino’s excessive penchant for utang na loob (debt of gratitude) which is part of a feudal mindset. They feel beholden to the politician for the many perks or favors given them. “Parang batang nabigyan ng kendi,” explains Dan.

Postcript: For further reference and information on political clans and dynasties in Philippine politics, attached hereunder are the leading personalities and political families, who dominated the local politics in their respective regions/provinces/cities/towns per researched released last year (2007) by the Citizens’ Anti-Dynasty Movement (CADM) chaired by Roger Olivarez. Obviously, seventy-five (75%) percent of provinces and regions, almost 100% of major cities are under dynasty families’ control.”, as follows:

AGUSAN DEL SUR, Plazas and Amantes; ALBAY, Salcedas, Gonzaleses, Bicharas, Imperials and Lagmans; BATAAN, Romans and Garcia; BATANES, Abads; BATANGAS, Rectos, Ermitas, Sanchezes, Laureles and Levistes; BILIRAN, Espinas; BULACAN, Alvarados, Oples, Pagdanganans and Mendozas; BUKIDNON, Acostas and Zubiri; CAGAYAN DE ORO, Emanos; CALOOCAN, Asistios and Echeverris; CAMARINES SUR, Robredos Villafuertes, Rocos, Fuentebellas and Alfelors; CAMIGUIN, Romualdos; CAVITE, Remullas, Revillas, Barzagas; CEBU, Osmenas, del Mars, Cuencos, Gullases, Garcias, Yaphas and Martinezes; COMPOSTELA VALLEY, Caballeros and Amatongs; DAVAO CITY, Dutertes and Lopezes; DAVAO DEL SUR, Libanans, Bautistas and Cagases; EASTERN SAMAR, Libanans; GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Antoninos; ILOCOS NORTE, Marcoses and Fariñases; ILOCOS SUR, Singsons and Baterinas; ILOILO, Defensors, Tupases, Suplicos, Garins, Birons and Gonzaleses; ISABELA, Dys and Albanos; LA UNION, Ortegas and Joaquins; LANAO DEL NORTE, Dimaporos; LANAO DEL SUR, Macarambons; LAS PINAS, Villar-Aguilars; LEYTE, Petillas, Velosos and Romualdezes; MAKATI, Binays; MANILA, Atienzas and Bagatsings; MARINDUQUE, Reyeses; MASBATE, Khos; MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Baculios; MUNTINLUPA, Fresnedis; NAVOTAS, Sandovals; NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, de la Cruzes, Marañons, Lacsons, Alvarezes, Zaycos and Lopezes; NEGROS ORIENTAL, Parases, Blancos, Limkaichongs, Dys, Yaps, Baldados, Villanuevas, Arnaizes, Montanos, Maciases and Teveses; NUEVA ECIJA, Josons, Umalis, Fajardos, Violagos, Vargases, Villareals and Esquivels; OLONGAPO CITY, Gordons; PALAWAN, Mitras; PAMPANGA, Macapagals, Lapids, Bondocs and Puyats; PANGASINAN, Agbayanis, de Venecias, Espinos, Lims, Ramoses; PASIG, Eusebios; QUEZON-AURORA, Angaras, Suarezes and Punsalans; SAN JUAN, Estrada-Ejercitos; SARANGGANI, Chongbians; SORSOGON, Lees and Escuderos; SIQUIJOR, Fuas; SULTAN KUDARAT, Mangudadatos; SURIGAO DEL NORTE, Barbers and Ecleos; SURIGAO DEL SUR, Falcons and Pichays; TAGUIG, Cayetanos; TARLAC, Aquinos, Sumulongs, Cojuangcos, Lapuzes and Yaps; VALENZUELA, Gatchalians; ZAMBALES, Magsaysays; ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Jalosjoses; (CADM researched not yet updated as of yet)…

18 thoughts on “POLITICAL DYNASTIES IN LOCAL POLITICS- A Lucrative Family Business?

  1. Pingback: Fishing » Blog Archive » POLITICAL DYNASTIES IN LOCAL POLITICS- A Lucrative Family Business?

  2. Greetings Sir!
    I just would like to commend your very-well thought of blog. (though I must admit that I’ve only read a few lines)…(and I can’t understand most of the unfamiliar words/dialect you’ve used) I’m a granddaughter of the late Pantaleon and Celerina Gotladera. I was just surfing the net and I suddenly came accross your entry here. So I thought of leaving a comment. Anyway, it was nice to see someone shed some insight about political dynasties. It has been going on for the past decade and I don’t think it’s going to end soon. Especially not in the Philippines. Oh well to each his own. God Bless!:D

  3. To Marianne,

    Welcome to Bulan- at least online! You carry with you a big family name from Bulan. It’s nice that you’ve discovered Bulan Observer and hopefully you would share this to other Tagabulans wherever you may be. Our town Bulan lives on being remembered- not on being fogotten- by its people who actually live there and those who are away. Nowadays everything seems to be just a click away. Naturally, we give more importance to our people who live there than us expats. But today’s on-line technology allows us to be with our town people and interact with them and help spread ideas and informations faster than any jet plane, hence, something whose value we no longer can afford to overlook. So don’t hesitate to join the Bulan On-Line Community which is growing each day! I am delighted to see how Bulan is being “clicked and visited” by on-line tourists from all over the world and reading virtually all things posted here. And our presence in the web is just a year this month. The news about the Eco Park in Calomagon for instance has already generated much interests among Filipino and European friends of mine. In fact Swiss friends of mine would want to come home with me already to visit the said Park.The administration of Mayor Helen De Castro has already joined this community and is open for dialogue with anyone who is interested in building up a brighter Bulan in the years ahead. You know why we need more guests from different places to come to Bulan? Well, it’s like when you’re expecting guests in your house- you clean your house!
    Thanks and be with us.

    jun asuncion

  4. hey Mr. Asuncion!
    Nice to hear about the progress “our” province is making….(using the word “our” makes me so uncomfortable coz I’ve only been to Bulan thrice… first I think was xmas wen i was God knows how old. 2nd was during my papa Taleon died. and third was when my mama Nena died. So as you may know the last time I’ve been there was centuries ago.) Anyhoo, I beg to differ, I don’t think I carry a “big” name.. hehe! that’s over describing it but I’d take that as a complement so thank you. And sure I’d do my best to check out this blogspot from time to time. God Bless!:D

  5. To Marianne,

    Well, big or small name is not the point, you’re right. What counts is whether you’re proud or not to carry your name like your grandparents did. I do think that your grandparents were mighty proud of their name. They had left a good legacy for our town Bulan and they’re being well-remembered for that. The way that our town lives on being remembered – and not on being forgotten-by the sons and daughters it has produced, your grandparents’ name also lives further through its succeeding generations and through others who have known them and remember them with delight and respect. Bulan has produced good names we fondly remember and carry around. In this way, it is the pride that counts in the end for it outlives many other things such as wealth and power- and even life itself.. People remember with honor other people who have touched their hearts in a nice way directly or indirectly. In my case, it was indirectly for I have never known your grandparents personally but I have heard good things about them before from other people who were telling me stories about Bulan and so I respect the name without a second thought. Not only bad things but good things also spread around, speaking for themselves. The main difference is that people feel good when they remember something good. It follows that people from Bulan feel good when they think of your grandparents. This is the meaning of good legacy- it’s this sense of pride and of feeling good that the people experience when they look back to a period of Bulan history associated with a certain leader or leaders or group of citizens who made a name for their town Bulan.

    Merry Christmas!

    jun asuncion

  6. GREETINGS MANOY JUN! I am a grandson of Papa Taleon and Mama Nena. Was able to read your observations regarding dynasties. You are correct. I pray there will come a day that the true leaders in our municipality would unite and move towards true change for the benefit of the people of Bulan. When I was a teen ager I met Tio Paul Asuncion. I think he is the Sangguniang Bayan Secretary. How are you related to him? Mabalos!

  7. The Gotladeras are showing up again! Thank you Arvin for your visit and good intention for our Bulan. But to begin with, this article was shared to us by attybenji. I did not write it myself but I did give my own observations to this topic of political dynasties in my comments and in other posts of mine. The true change you mentioned is really what our nation needs by now but this can be realized only if we start with the Barangay or the town, the “bottom-up approach” to change which I think I mentioned already in my previous posts. I have no more faith when the national politicians talk about change for usually it is superficial and rooted somewhere else, namely in their personal interests. A change that comes from below, from the basic units is deep and strong and this would hold our nation much better. Now, supposing that our town Bulan alone has improved politically, socially and economicaly, it is still not enough to affect the whole Philippines- but who cares for now? The main thing is that the Tagabulans are enjoying and are proud of their own progressive town. The other towns must also work hard and seriously to be progressive like Bulan. Take Marikina City as an example. The efforts of mayor Marides are paying of for now her city is one of the most progessive cities in Asia- within a less progressive country. But this will come to our dear Philippines if all the other city mayors would follow the example of Marikina. Other city mayors need only to work seriously like mayor Marides. Positive competition in this nature is what the Philippines need to move forward (This is also why I am for a Federalism in our country for it fosters in each region (state) innovation and entrepreneurship, the driving forces of economy). Our presidents did not comprehend this. They did not look around how the other succesful presidents in Asia did their job but worried themselves only as to how they could lenghten their stay in power. Power alone is nothing. It needs wisdom and patriotism for a President to effect good change, the two important things our Presidents did not posses. Again, who cares for now? The main thing for us Tagabulans is to have a rooted mayor and progressive politicians and for us to help our town move forward so that it will be much more brighter than it is now- to each his own way of helping.

    jun asuncion

    Ps. If you mean Leo Asuncion, yes, he is my first cousin and so is Boy Razo-Asuncion. My mentors and dear cousins!

  8. Dear Jun,


    I have read Atty Benjie’s column , “Political Dynasties in Local Politics- a lucrative family business”. I agree with him on many points.

    But I strongly take exception to his reference of the De Castros, whom he named, (and also to the memory of Tio Boning Gillego and Tia Nena Gotladera, whom I personally know). It is callous, careless, unfair, irresponsible, to write about them in such a manner as to refer to their being politicians -“all in the family affair, a family business, and source of livelihood.”

    And then, Mr. Gaspi, complained cynically and emotionally, using the dialect, how difficult it would be to demolish the local dynasties since they have all the guns, goons, and gold, etc. From a lawyer like him, I was expecting a balanced, objective, unemotional treatment of a thesis.

    How did he know it was family business for the De Castros and Gillegos and Gotladeras? Did he know these people? Did he know about their educational backgrounds, governance skills, leadership qualities? Boning Gillego was a great human rights fighter, Nena Gotladera was a Civil Service Chairman, Nene De Castro was a brilliant doctor and stateswoman, Luis and Bito De Castro were all war veterans. And Guiming and Rosa, all have shown their ability to lead and manage.

    If I may add, perhaps, if the Guyalas were successful in their political careers and setting up their political base, they could have also a parade of their own family members join the political scene.

    I know that all over the Philippines we are not short of people gifted with leadership qualities. More so in Bulan. Indeed, the flaw is in our laws. I agree with you that the Constitution is paving for us the way to do away with dynasties. But the democratic process also provides us with a mechanism for the people to choose. Pampanga and Cagayan has shown us the way.

    The phenomenon on dynasties is worldwide. It has been there since when man began to form communities to protect themselves, to help each other. they chose the strongest, the tallest, the fastest, and most often, he who has the most in material things. We cannot rid of it even in our lifetime, much as we would like to. The problem lies in the inequality of classes in societies. That you have to admit. But for as long as we have the democratic mechanisms in place it is much better than the experiments of classless societies by a Lenin or a Mao Tse Tung or a Fidel Castro or a Kim Jung Il.

    Atty. Benjie’s griping about these great leaders of Bulan appears to be with motive. I hope this is not politicalized in nature. The specifics on the decastros and gotladeras and gillegos are not appropriate. I agree with you on your generalizations. I hope this former student of mine read about the lives of these people whom he mentioned and not to carelessly let them appear as if they are in politics because of ignoble intentions! Jun was rather correct when he wrote that there are also people from dynasties in which our country, our communities also benefitted because of their dedication to service.

    Also please let atty benjie read about my previous comments. Maybe he has not yet read it especially about the De Castro clan.

    Thank you tabi! Please watch out for our LGU BUlan Website. It will be coming out soon. It will feature the best of Bulan.

    Mabuhay po kamo entero, lalo ka na Jun. Salamat sini na site mo. At least we can listen to what others express and we can exchange ideas!

  9. To Tonyboy Gilana,

    I’m looking forward for the Bulan Website that will soon “feature the best of Bulan”- as you have written.

    Bulan is I think one of the most “democratic” towns in the entire Philippines and one which has such a site like this where the people have the chance to voice out their views and concerns, where they can communicate with their local officials and where their local officials also take time to answer.

    I know that in many towns in the Philippines, it is almost tantamount to suicide if you criticize their administration. As a matter of fact, people whom I know from other towns and cities in the Philippines have been warning me and telling me to stop writing. I always tell them that Bulan is a different town for as far as I know we never kill each other because of politics. One Bulan mayor was once victimized by a brutal assault during his term, but the perpetrator was not from Bulan.

    As you have said, Bulan is not short of people gifted with leadership. I agree with you for good leadership also encourages criticism. Authoritarianism is never a sign of good leadership for it is based on one’s personal weaknesses and fears. Whereas, good leadership is based on a balance of compassion, intelligence, skills and authority. A town with such kind of leaders is a happy town- I suppose.

    We don’t want to keep digging on things in the past that don’t help us move forward. There are moments though that when you write something emotions come up when you remember some unpleasant details in the past. This is the moment when the writer gets emphatic and seems to lose the balance. And added to that, the Philippine politics can only make the writer really emotional for it is a fact that the country’s poverty is to a large extent caused by the misallocation of public funds by our politicians- starting from some of its presidents. You dig on the World Bank’s archives about its business transactions with the Philippines and you will understand why it is no longer motivated to finance projects in our country.

    The Philippines is one of the most plundered nations in the world by its very own public officials, a sad fact, indeed but it warrants display of emotions of Filipinos – like attybenji- who are conscious of these corrupt practices and have enough of this social injustice and abuses by many people in power.

    One solid proof that social injustice, corruption and poverty is an undeniable reality in the Philippines is the insurgency (NPA’s..) and the many organized crimes and gamblings like jueting. A country which is governed democratically and managed properly does not have these problems- examples abound of such countries.

    We, as rooted Tagabulans, can only help one another to make our town different and the best it can possibly be within our own local democratic system. The De Castros can contribute much to our vision of a democratic and brighter Bulan for they have the most stable political base and should they continue their past legacy of good political and civic leadership.

    Though the flaw maybe is in the law, the people of Bulan should be aware that we should not take advantage of that flaw for then it’s no longer the law but the character that is flawed when we don’t respect Section 26 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution which reads “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit “Political Dynasties” as maybe defined by Law”.

    The people of Bulan should not wait for Congress to define political dynasty for – as we have said- Tagabulans are intelligent enough to define it among themselves.

    Thank you for your comment. I’m waiting for the Bulan Website that will feature the best of Bulan- and hopefully also the worst of Bulan that in a way contributes to making our town an honest and democratic place on earth.

    jun asuncion

  10. maawa kayo mga politico ng bulan.
    mag sirbisyo kamo sa tawo,
    san tama…

  11. Good morning Jun, and so too to Mr. Anonymous.

    Thanks for the comment on Sabang. The Local Government Unit is trying its best to make sure that Sabang Park becomes a worthwhile place for the family and the residents of Bulan. Pamate ko tabi, dire mo man seguro manenegaran na daghanun na man an mga improvements sa park nato. Now, we have anewly constructed public pavilion. Also, our personnel out there are really doing their best to clean and maintain Sabang Park. Sabang is the most frequented place in Bulan especially in Summer and Christmas seasons. Wara na magiutan an tawo kun irog sini na okasyun. Meaning, that people don’t shy away from our community park.

    Siguro, one big problem is because sabang is nasa bukana san Managa-naga river. And there are seasons when the monsoon waves bring in much dirt from the Ticao pass.

    Ayaw lang tabi kay ipaabut ta gihapun ini na koment mo sa Park administrator nato.

    Once more salamat po sa pagpuna niyo. Mao ini an kaipuhan mi basi ma-improve ta an mga dapat nato ma-improve. God bless po!

  12. To All,

    Thank you for all your comments, views and concerns you are all posting which only show how Tagabulans are one when it comes to the improvement of our town. Let us help one another not only in putting Bulan in the map but of making it a clean and peaceful town.

    Environment is a key issue everywhere and is something that must be faced by all leaders and by all people, from the youngest to the eldest in the community. It is not just a well-ness trend but it is a sign of a growing awareness of modern man that our survival depends on clean air, water and soil.

    The earth has given us everything for survival but we have the responsibilty to give back also. For a long time man has just taken things from earth and and has never been aware of his responsibility. Now he has come to that point of awareness that it is no longer sustainable to continue with the old ways. If he wants to survive and feel good, he must clean his immediate environment.

    This is also what all Tagabulans want: to survive and to feel good in Bulan.

    To maintain Bulan clean is a collective effort and that also means we must invest time and resources to keep the local environmental programs running. For now I’m thinking concretely of how we can keep the people along the coastlines of Bulan from using the shores as their human and industrial refuse dumping site. However, it is also true that the currents of Ticao Pass also import all kinds of debris from neighboring towns. All the more are we motivated to keep our shorelines clean for the idea of exporting our own debris to other places is not only off-putting but a message of environmental indifference, backwardness and town mismanagement to all other civilizations nearby. In this connection, it is indeed better to receive than to give.

    I was at the pier and market area just before the typhoon Dante and noticed old and new garbage materials, mostly plastics and tins sprawled almost all over, things that really do not belong to the sea. Latest research on plastics revealed that they release poisonous chemicals during decaying process under the influence of the sun and other factors which in turn affect biological organisms- including man, naturally.

    But Sabang Beach was “visibly” relatively clean at that point in time and actually I was impressed by the cottages, the mini aviary and the new pavilion. I had a nice talk with the administrator Lenny Tee, an old classmate of mine, and she told me her visions for the Park. I also offered her my suggestions. She seemed to be very engaged with her job which I find good for results always depends on one’s engagement. Good work, Lenny!

    First, I think that coastline management should be integrated into the existing Municipal Solid Waste Management program; second, the government could provide public toilets for people living along the coasts. One could start with one unit which would serve as a pilot project/study in order to determine if it would bring out the desired results, namely behavioral change of the inhabitants in that area and feces-free beaches over this study period. One needs to campaign for it at regular periods, of course.

    In one discussion- group, a European mentioned that Bulan is a nice town but he would never swim in its sea waters because people are using the beaches as their toilets. It is always unpleasant to hear the truth thrown right into your face in front of other nationalities. You see, not only those who live in Bulan suffer from the problems in Bulan but also Tagabulans in all corners of the globe. Nevertheless, this should not force us to resignation but rather motivate us to do little steps now in solving the problem.

    jun asuncion

  13. Good morning Manoy Jun! Hope everything is doing fine in Bulan. I really would like to go and visit our departed loved ones there specially Papa Taleon’s and Mama Nena’s graves. However, I think it is not prudent to go because of the tyhoon “Santi” which is about to hit us. Kapangalan pa ni Tio “Santi”ago Fellone.

    Anyway, election day is again around the corner. Do you have information about our candidates for Mayor, Vice Mayor, and Congressman? I bet many of the candidates would be again giving away things to be able to get votes. There would also be a flood, a flood of solicitations from the constituents.

    Happy Halloween! God Bless Us and the People of Bulan!

  14. Thanks Arvin for your constant concerns about our Town Bulan. Tonyboy has already supplied you with the answers I myself cannot provide. So big thanks to Tonyboy. I think he is doing his job well for the people of Bulan. Political affiliations limit his scope or “elbowroom” naturally, but as a private person he enjoys freedom just like you and me. Professionally, no doubt he is a good educator. And above all, he cares for Bulan and his respect for Bulan’s history is exemplary and that’s is good for public servants to be rooted in local history and be guided by it in their decision-making.

    Now, the LGU-Bulan has grasped the importance of internet presence. There was once a Bulan website but for some reasons they stopped it. So there was a gap in the flow of information for a time and this resulted to a lot of “imbalance”. And from this “imbalance” Bulan Observer was born.

    Whatever this may be, it is my hope that Bulan Observer represents some of those views and concerns of some of these 44,000 voters in Bulan and also of our readers who are still too young to vote or those who as of now prefer not to vote in the coming election. We will continue observing and giving our comments before and after the 2010 election.

    I haven’t heard anything yet from the other side of the political fence. I expect them by end of November to introduce themselves to the people and define their mission and visions for Bulan.

    We know the mechanics of Philipine elections. You hit it right when you use the term “flooding” of dole outs, envelopes, solicitations, etc.- the usual fare.

    Who could change this mechanics, the political candidates or the people? Given the totality of the socio-economic standing of our nation, I think it is a difficult question.

    Theoretically, it is the people that could change the course for the government is by and for the people- and not by and for the political candidates. Hence, not the political candidates, but these 44,000 Bulan voters should “think it over” and that they be guided by good political arguments and results and not by “old habits” and trivialities.

    Best regards,

    jun asuncion


    Despite being detained and charged for non-bailable offense (e.g. multiple murder and rebellion charges, and possible cases for violations of the ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT and ANTI GRAFT & CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT, the AMPATUANS, though practically and politically crippled, are still alive and running big time this forthcoming May 10, 2010 elections, and in fact, they are now building a strong political dynasty in the whole Maguindanao province.

    To date, the AMPATUANS are fielding a total of, at least, SIXTY EIGHT (68) candidates for various elective posts in Maguindanao and Cotabato City.

    by Carolyn O. Arguillas, MindaNews
    Monday, February 8th, 2010 (PUBLISHED IN MAGUINDANAO CHRONICLE)

    DAVAO CITY – Their leaders may be detained outside Maguindanao but they remain a clan to reckon with in Maguindanao, if we are to base it on the number of candidates running for election or reelection on May 10. The Ampatuans, Sinsuats, Sangkis, Mangudadatus, Pendatuns, Masturas, Midtimbangs, etc.. are fielding candidates for the May 10 polls but the Ampatuans have the highest number at 68, 50 of them carrying the same surname while the remaining 18 use Ampatuan as their middle name.

    Of the 50, at least 23 are members of the immediate family of the patriarch, Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr.

    The Mangudadatus have 15, 10 of them bearing the surname with the remaining five use Mangudadatu as middle name.

    On November 23 last year, the Mangudadatus sent a convoy of relatives, women lawyers and 32 journalists to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao, to file the certificate of candidacy for governor of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Gaguil Mangudadatu.

    The convoy was stopped by armed men believed led by Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. who would have been the Ampatuans’ candidate for governor and along with six others who happened to pass the highway at the wrong time, were herded into Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town, where they were massacred – at least 58 of them — 35 of them buried in three mass gravesites.

    Andal Jr. was taken into custody on November 26.
    On December 5, hours after martial law was declared over portions of Maguindanao, Andal Sr., then OIC Governor of Maguindanao, was taken into custody at 1:30 in the morning while his son Datu Zaldy, governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was taken in at around 7 a.m. and brought to General Santos City.

    Two other sons, Datu Anwar, mayor of Shariff Aguak and Datu Sajid, former OIC Governor of Maguindanao were also taken in along with son-in-law Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr., were also arrested and brought to the 6th Infantry Division in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat but a few days later were transferred to General Santos.

    So who’s running among the Ampatuans?
    Candidates directly related to Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr.

    • Datu Andal Salibo Ampatuan, Sr., for vice governor
    • Shaydee Ampatuan-Abutazil (daughter), for vice governor
    • Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan (son), for Provincial Board
    • Bongbong Midtimbang-Ampatuan (wife of Datu Zaldy), for mayor of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, unopposed
    • Bai Noraila K. Midtimbang Ampatuan (daughter of Zaldy and Bongbong), for councilor, unopposed
    • Saudi Biruar Ampatuan, Jr., (son of the late mayor Saudi) for mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan
    • Saudi Biruar Ampatuan III, (Saudi Jr’s brother) for vice mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan
    • Soraida Macarimbang Biruar-Ampatuan (wife of the late Mayor Saudi Ampatuan), for vice mayor of Parang
    • Jehan-jehan Lepail Ampatuan (wife of Saudi Jr.), for councilor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan
    • Reshal Santiago-Ampatuan (wife of Andal Jr.), for mayor of Datu Unsay
    • Yacob “Datu Jack” Lumenda Ampatuan (husband of Aloha, a daughter of Andal, Sr.) for mayor of Rajah Buayan
    • Zahara Upam Ampatuan (wife of Anwar), for mayor of Shariff Aguak
    • Zandria Sinsuat Ampatuan, (wife of Sajid) for mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha
    • Mohammad Bahnarin Ampatuan Ampatuan (son of Rebecca and Datu Akmad Sr.), for mayor of Mamasapano
    • Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan Ampatuan (son of Rebecca and Datu Akmad Sr), for mayor of Mamasapano
    • Akmad Masukat Ampatuan (father of Bahnarin and Benzar), for vice mayor of Mamasapano
    • Lady Sha-Honey Ampatuan Ampatuan (daughter of Rebecca and Akmad Sr.), for vice mayor of Mamasapano
    • Anwar Uy Ampatuan, Sr. (son of Andal Sr.; wife of Zahara), for vice mayor of Shariff Aguak
    • Anhara Upam Ampatuan (child of Anwar and Zahara) for councilor of Shariff Aguak
    • Anwar Upam Ampatuan, Jr., (child of Anwar and Zahara) for councilor of Shariff Aguak
    • Rowella Upam Ampatuan (child of Anwar and Zahara) for councilor of Shariff Aguak
    • Manny Upam Ampatuan (child of Anwar and Zahara), for councilor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan
    • Galema Ampatuan-Olimpayan (daughter of Andal Sr. with another wife) for councilor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha

    Other candidates with Ampatuan as family name:

    • Datu Sarip Kasan Ampatuan, for Provincial Board
    • Puti Mamasapano Ampatuan, for Provincial Board
    • Akmad Baganian Ampatuan, for mayor of Datu Salibo
    • Marob Batabol Ampatuan, for mayor of Datu Salibo
    • Kuzbari Lumenda Ampatuan, for mayor of Rajah Buayan
    • Datu Rennier Sinsuat Ampatuan for mayor of Talitay
    • Kanor Datumanong Ampatuan, for vice mayor of Datu Salibo
    • Baiungang Dilangalen Ampatuan, for vice mayor of Datu Abdullah Sangki
    • Farida Lidasan Ampatuan, for vice mayor of Matanog
    • Normina Baganian Ampatuan, for councilor of Ampatuan
    • Bai Sittie Sugadol Ampatuan, for councilor of Datu Abdullah Sangki
    • Datu Khalid Sandag Ampatuan, for councilor of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, unopposed
    • Norodin Lakman Ampatuan, for councilor of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, unopposed
    • Mama Datumanong Ampatuan, for councilor of Datu Salibo
    • Moharif Batabol Ampatuan, for councilor of Datu Salibo
    • Yasser Baganian Ampatuan, for councilor of Datu Salibo
    • Abdullah Kaliangget Ampatuan, for councilor of Datu Unsay
    • Pandag Salibo Ampatuan, for councilor of Datu Unsay
    • Anwarudin Masukat Ampatuan, for councilor of Mamasapano
    • Mahir Masukat Ampatuan, for councilor of Mamasapano
    • Mohamad Nor Abdilla Ampatuan, for councilor of Mamasapano
    • Usman Unto Ampatuan, for councilor of Mamasapano
    • Farisha Imam Ampatuan, for councilor of Shariff Aguak
    • Norodin Datumanong Ampatuan, for councilor of Shariff Aguak
    • Syrah Fatima Biruar Ampatuan, for councilor of Shariff Aguak
    • Michelle Sakal Ampatuan, for councilor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha
    • Zainal Buto Ampatuan, for councilor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha

    Candidates with Ampatuan as middle name:

    • Bai Sandra Ampatuan Sema (wife of incumbent Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema) for 1st district rep against Didagen Piang Dilangalen
    • Simeon Ampatuan Datumanong, for 2nd district rep, unopposed.
    • Samsodhen Ampatuan Sangki, for vice mayor of Datu Abdullah Sangki
    • Monir Ampatuan Asim, Sr., for vice mayor of Datu Unsay
    • Ameerah Ampatuan Mamalapat, for vice mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha
    • Tulondatu Ampatuan Sumagka, for vice mayor of Talitay
    • Johaipa Ampatuan Basilan, for councilor of Ampatuan
    • Datumama Ampatuan Dilangalen, for councilor of Datu Abdullah Sangki
    • Rohaida Ampatuan Ebrahim, for councilor of Datu Abdullah Sangki
    • Bai Giom Ampatuan Kindo, for councilor of Datu Abdullah Sangki
    • Prince Razul Ampatuan Sangki, for councilor of Datu Adullah Sangki
    • Nasser Ampatuan Datumanong, for councilor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan
    • Mohammad Don Ysriel Ampatuan Asim, for councilor of Datu Unsay
    • Datumama Ampatuan Bandila, for councilor of Rajah Buayan
    • Saada Ampatuan Sambolawan, for councilor of Rajah Buayan
    • Norodin Ampatuan Datumanong, for councilor of Shariff Aguak
    • Amil Hamza Ramshais Ampatuan Macapendeg, for councilor of Shariff Aguak
    • Melvin Ampatuan Sumagka, for councilor of Talitay

    Cotabato City is not part of Maguindanao but there are three Ampatuans running for elective posts there: Linda Untal Ampatuan, running for vice mayor; Johariz Usman Ampatuan, running for councilor; and Omarkhalid Ampatuan Ampatuan, running for councilor. – Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews

    • It’s indeed a lucrative family business. As in any business, it only survive so long as there are customers supporting it.

      But competition also kills a business. So let the laws of the market rule.

  16. To jhem:
    Yes, what effect could political dynasties have in education? I wonder what made you ask this question…
    In any case, it came to me that we don’t only have political dyanasties in the Philippines but also other dynasties, like medical dynasties, education dynasties, etc. I came from education dynasty as my parents were educators and also many of my relatives. Now, may I also ask, what is the effect of education dynasties on politics, for example?
    Or should it be more proper to ask, what’s the effect of political dynasties on politics? of education dynasties on education, etc? Talking about effect, it’s always a question of defintion and quality of that effector. What do you think is the effect of a defective loud wheel on the overall performance of the vehicle and on its passengers?
    But of course, of all these dynasties, there is nothing louder that political dynasties for there lie the many defects- intrigues, the stolen votes and money, the power and the corruption, at least in our country.
    In politics, you can only talk about good or bad, hence, there are good and bad political dynasties in the Philippines, though it seems that the bad ones are in the majority. The Aquino political dynasty is an example of a good one.
    I mean, there must be a hole in your soul if you would accuse P-Noy now of malversation of public funds to enrich himself or hiding his SALN, and worse, of killing political rivals, as the Ampatuans did.
    In practice, good political dynasties have good impact on all aspects of the nation- including education, economy, etc.

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