Ending political dynasties? Start in your own backyard
“Starting in your backyard is very important, and I hope it will have a ripple effect across the country,” Rappler Cebu office coordinator Ryan Macasero said in an episode of Newsbreak Chats.
MANILA, Philippines — Ending political dynasties in the Philippines, where their existence has long been entrenched, may not be a walk in the park, but it can be done by starting in one’s own backyard.
Ryan Macasero, Rappler’s Cebu office coordinator, said people take away from campaigning for the 2022 elections that “if we work hard at it, it’s possible,” especially if you start in your own communities and barangays where “small dynasties” exist.
“Having good leadership in the barangays is also important for the city to move forward,” he said in an episode of Newsbreak that aired Thursday, March 31.
“Starting in your backyard is very important, and I hope it will have a ripple effect across the country,” added Macasero.
The episode, hosted by Rappler investigative editor Miriam Grace Go, touched on influential political clans and their role in the 2022 election, particularly when presidential candidates treat them as they court voters across the Philippines.
Political dynasties have long been a problem in the country and they continue to grow with each election. In fact, a study by the Ateneo School of Government found that dynasties grew by 1% or 170 positions per election period from 1988 to 2019.
What’s new for the 2022 elections? Inday Espina-Varona, head of Rappler regions, said influential clans usually fight each other, but now there is a sense of alliance. This can be catastrophic for their constituents.
“Kapag nagkaka-isa the malalking pamilya, the most important, malamang yan after the elections, the pasanan of taumbayan is more malala (When the big political families unite, the citizens will surely be heavily burdened after the elections),” she said.
lead by example
Some statements of support, particularly those from Vice President Leni Robredo, came as a surprise to many, given the past six years under President Rodrigo Duterte. Yet regardless of who wins the presidency, most political dynasties will continue to be entrenched.
It doesn’t help that many national candidates themselves come from political dynasties. A look at the list of presidential and vice-presidential candidates also shows that at least four: Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Sara Duterte and Vicente Sotto III.
Some senatorial candidates, meanwhile, also come from influential political clans.
Political dynasties are prohibited by the 1987 Philippine Constitution, but Congress has yet to pass legislation that will implement this provision.
“How can we have empowerment when political dynasties control Congress?” Varona said. “They are adding more and more numbers there.”
Rappler’s Mindanao office coordinator Herbie Gomez said ending political dynasties, an “exploitation of…a flaw in democracy,” requires strong political will from a president who will lead by example. .
“[But] when people see their leader having a dynasty, you will see local dynasties in the provinces,” he said. “Badly influence the president (a president can have great influence), especially on legislation.
In many places, political dynasties exist because they remain unopposed. Along with their strong hold on their localities, the vast resources needed to mount a campaign are a barrier to anyone unaffiliated wanting to run for office.
It shouldn’t be. According to Varona, making elective positions accessible to more people who do not belong to political dynasties involves getting rid of the perceived exclusivity of governance.
“When [leaders] learned to not only channel aid, but also to involve people in governance, sa tingin ko lalawak iyan (I think it will expand),” she said.
“But if there’s a leader who breaks that down and then says people in the communities, because we have an existing structure that allows them to participate… pwedeng makita ng tao na kakayanin pala natin, tayo na rin (People can see they can do it too),” Varona added.