Tell it to SunStar: Dynasties

By Fr. Ramon Echica

I KNOW that political dynasties are an unfortunate reality in Philippine politics. A good book on family and politics is “An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines” edited by Alfred McCoy and published by Ateneo Press in 1994. The book chronicles the political families of the Osmeñas of Cebu, the Duranos of Danao City, the Dimaporos of Lanao, the Lopezes of Iloilo, etc.

This problem of dynasties is too broad for one post. Thus, I want to limit this post to presidential children. In the case of the Dutertes, is it the first time that the children of a sitting President are running for elections? I am looking for historical precedents. In this hasty research, I am totally dependent on my basic knowledge of history and online sources. If some history buffs or even professional historians read this and see some inaccuracies, I gladly will stand corrected.

The answer to the above question seems to be “yes and no, it depends.” (Note that I am limiting the discussion to the President’s children. Excluded are siblings, uncles or aunts, nephews or nieces. Supposedly, a person can reign over one’s children more easily than with other relations.) In the past, there were some children of Presidents who ran for elective posts but only after the presidential term of their parent was finished. It may be either because they were still too young and may not have met the legal age requirement for elective posts.

Or it may indeed be the old fashioned but deeply cherished delicadeza that prevented these children from running. Serging Osmeña Jr. was a colorful figure in Philippine politics but he ran for office long after his father, Don Sergio, was no longer the President. Gerardo Roxas was the son of President Manuel Roxas and he carved his name in Philippine politics. But he never ran for office while his father was still the occupant of Malacañang. He started as a congressman of Capiz in 1957 and his father’s term ended in 1948.

Jun Magsaysay started his political career as a congressman in 1965, eight years after a plane crash killed his father Ramon Magsaysay. Gloria was still a child when her father Diosdado was the President. And P-Noy waited for his mother’s term to end before he ran and won as a congressman of Tarlac.

The delicadeza observed by Presidents was disregarded by Marcos when Imee was the national chairperson of the Kabataang Baranggay. However, such position could not be compared to elected posts held during regular elections. Nevertheless, it was a position worth killing for. A certain Archimedes Trajano asked point blank during an open forum what were the qualifications of Imee aside from being a presidential daughter. The guy was dragged out of the forum by presidential guards and his body since then was never found. What seems to be unspoken rule may have been technically first broken by actor Jinggoy Estrada, the first presidential son to run for office while his father was the nation’s chief executive.

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