Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Dynasties Roll On

Philippine Senators are elected to six-year terms, with half the Senate (12 of the 24) elected every third year. Of the twelve candidates who currently appear to have won (counting isn’t complete), ten are closely related to other high-ranking politicians. They are:

Grace Poe -- Adopted daughter of two major movie stars, one of whom (Fernando Poe) very nearly won the presidency in 2004.
Alan Peter Cayetano – Son of a former senator. His sister is also a senator, and his wife is a mayor, who also took over his congressional seat when he moved up to the senate.
Francis (Chiz) Escudero – Son of a former congressman and cabinet member, grandson of a mayor, great-grandson of a governor.
Loren Legarda – Married at the time she entered politics (later annulled) to the governor of Batangas, Antonio Leviste. Other Levistes held the governorship previously and at least one congressional seat (although I can’t figure out the exact relationships).
Nancy Binay – Her father is vice-president and a former mayor of Makati (a big piece of metro Manila); her mother is also a former mayor of Makati; her brother is the current mayor; her sister is in the congress.
Juan Edgardo (Sonny) Angara -- Father current senator (term-limited), aunt former representative and governor, uncle new governor.
Benigno (Bam) Aquino – Almost too many to mention. His cousin is the current president and his aunt was president. We’ll leave it at that for the moment.
Aquilino (Koko) Pimentel III – Son of a senator.
Cynthia Villar – Wife of a senator, sister of a mayor, mother of a congressman.
JV Ejercito-Estrada – His father was president and former mayor of San Juan (another big piece of metro Manila) and was just elected mayor of Manila; his mother (who was the father’s mistress) is the current mayor of San Juan; his half-brother is also a senator; various other relatives hold office, including a cousin who is a governor.

The other two, the only ones without family connections, both of whom are current senators being re-elected, are former military officers who achieved fame by leading coups -- Antonio Trillanes, who led a coup attempt against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (he was elected in 2007 while in jail); and Gregorio (Gringo) Honasan, who led one against Corazon Aquino. In both cases, they were freed by the next president.

(Note: The twelve existing senators are covered in this post). 

With the continuing election and re-election of the same families, there is little likelihood of any substantive reform in the Philippines. The same policies of protectionism and crony capitalism as have long been practiced here by the intermarried business and political elite will continue.

Until something changes, nothing will change.

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