MOST dynasties are intact and stronger than ever.
While some of the infamous dynasties like the Estrada-Ejercitos, Enrile, Eusebios, Binay, Jaloslos, Osmena, Durano, and Javier, have suffered major upset in the recently concluded midterm elections, most still lord it over our major provinces.
Still, people have had enough of their perceived rotten leadership, looting of public coffers and resources, and lavish lifestyles. They are much-hated, and booting them out of public position is the people’s ultimate recourse.
Dynasty is formed by rulers of the same bloodline and interest who succeed each other for a long time. And it is a sad and despicable reality in our country.
According to the 2017 study by Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CENPEG), there are 250 dynasties who are in control of practically everything. Each province is dominated by competing dynasties constantly and continuously vying for different local and national political positions, and in monopolizing businesses.
They have built their wealth and businesses through the political power they wield in the local and national levels.
In a study made by Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism few years ago, they noted that 2/3 of the members of the Congress are either grandfather, grandmother, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandsons and daughters, or next of kin of big political dynasties in the country.
The most stable of the old dynasties in the Visayas-Mindanao for example, almost unmoved by historical events, are perhaps the Marcos, Romualdez, Macapagal-Arroyo, Dimaporo, Alonto, Mangudadatu, Lobregat, Adaza, Chiongban, Navarro, Barbers, Garcia, Lopez, Cagas, Almario, Furano, Duterte, Rama, Gullas, Garcia, Frasco, Martinez, Salimbangon, Radaza, Petilla, Apostol, Trinidad, Torres-Gomez, Tan, Ong, Yap, Relampagos, Chatto, Balite, Mercado, Uy, Espina, Villa, Rocamora, Biron, Defensor, Garin, Tupas, De Asis, Babiera, and Nava.
In Negros island, the more prominent and big dynasties are the Ledesma, Maranon, Escalante, Benitez, Lacson, Locsin, Golez, Araneta, Torres, Ferrer, Yulo, Peñas, Zayco, Alvarez, Montinola, Bilbao, Limkaichong, Arnaiz, Teves.
During the boom of sugar industry, Negros dynasties have been known for making presidents and unseating national officials unfriendly to sugar planters, millers and traders, and no less, in treating their “sakadas” like slaves.
In the grim years of martial rule, a number of them were also instrumental in organizing and financing private armies, paramilitary forces of the army, and death squads, all instrumental in institutionalizing reign of terror and violence in rural areas.
For a long time, these are the known families and clans who have controlled legislative districts, cities and municipalities. They have been playing crucial role in business, politics and culture; some positive, others destructive.
Due to their economic possessions, their political positions have consequently been used as extension of their haciendas, farms and other business interests.
They invented and nurtured the patronage systems, giving projects to their favored contractors, giving most services to their own workers, and built a huge network of captive voters to ensure their victory in every local and national elections.
For now, these dynasties especially the younger members are trying to adapt to new conditions, more civil and professional in their management of the various affairs of their families and clans, and also learning the bigger picture of the sugar industry and the Philippine economy in general. They have also put aside terror and violence in their conduct of their business and politics, but still and always ready to resort to it when necessary.
The old guards of these dynasties have turned into financiers, king makers and power brokers, ensuring that the properties and interests of their families and clans are safeguarded and expanded even more, and their communities and hubs are well secured.
Despite some changes in their mode of behaviors and conduct of political and economic affairs, dynasties remain consolidated and stronger than ever.
With Duterte’s display of macho-autocratic ways of presidency, it is possible that these dynasties, or those aligned with the administration will get emboldened to do the same to reproduce and consolidate further their political and economic power.
A friend once commented that dynasties is not only a fact of Philippine political life, but an integral component of the ruling system, and the only way to decapitate them is to overhaul the ruling system itself.
I responded “it’s true, but who will and can change it, and when and how long?”