(3rd of 4 parts)
We keep on criticizing the political dynasties in our country. But haven’t we Filipinos realized that we are so guilty of creating them? Yes, we have to admit it. We allowed the same politicians and their family members to lord it over in the Philippine political landscape for God knows how long. We made our country look like a de facto monarchy ruled by political kings and queens… their princes and princesses.
When a politician, let’s say a mayor, could no longer run for re-election due to term limits, what would the honorable gentleman do? Turn his back on politics? Of course not! Power is so addicting. So many of those who experienced being at the helm of either local or national politics (and enjoyed the benefits, including those “passed under the table”) would not just quit politics nor pass the torch to another person.
So, what would happen?
His wife would run for the position he previously held. Then that politician would run for another post – as governor perhaps. Most of the time, Filipino voters would allow them to win and usually they would be able to mesmerize (or buy) the voters to luckily get re-elected until they reach their term limits. Would it be the end? Would their thirst for power (and the so-called “benefits”) be finally satiated?
The couple would ask their son or daughter (or a grandson – or a granddaughter – or an in-law) to run for the positions they would vacate. The shocking thing (and you might not believe it), there are times that siblings, or even husbands and wives, would not give way to the other and so members of the same family would slug it out in the political arena. Anyway, this is not about family members squabbling in the political arena – this is about the political dynasty their families created.
Let’s continue then.
Let’s go back to the mother who just reached her term limit as mayor. Would she go back to being a full-time mother and wife? You were born only yesterday if you don’t know the answer to that question. Yes – she would run for the post vacated by the husband-politician. The husband would then aim for a higher position – run either as congressman or even senator. In case all family members win then for years that the power will change hands within the same family. The son (or daughter) is a mayor, the mother a governor, and the father either as congressman or senator. When term limits are reached then they will just run for the position that a family member would vacate. Some siblings, and even in-laws, in the family are also occupying minor positions in the geographical units where they reside.
Did that family create their political dynasty? No! We ourselves did it. We Filipinos created the political dynasties in the Philippines.
And how did (have) these members of a few beholden families whom we allowed (are allowing) to exclusively hold the reins of our government – local to national – perform (been performing)?
You are either blind or dumb if you don’t know the answer to that question.
You got fooled if you think they keep pursuing positions in government in the name of “public service.”
You are naive if you believe that what drives them to stay in power is they love you, they want to serve you, and they want to help you have a better life.
How many of the available positions in the Philippine government, local and national, are held by the same families who have been the gods and goddesses of Philippine politics since time immemorial? Most of them are offspring of the peninsulares who survived “America’s power grab” at the turn of the 20th century. They decided to stay in the country and reap the dividends for doing so. And it’s not only the politics that they dominate. With the enormous fortune they inherited from their Spanish parents/grandparents (which the Americans allowed them to keep), they also control the country’s economy. That’s why I would sometimes jokingly ask – “Did the Spanish rule really end?”
Only a few pure-blooded Filipinos and foreign expatriates of Chinese origin who became wealthy when the Americans took their turn to colonize the Philippines had the financial resources to challenge the Spanish mestizos for political supremacy in the Philippines, especially after the Americans granted the Filipinos their independence after the World War II. Some of them succeeded and when they experienced how intoxicating power is, they (and their offsprings) kept running and we kept electing them as if nobody else were qualified.
It is no longer surprising to know that politicians occupying national positions have one, or two family members and in-laws occupying seats in the local government.
Here is a question – “When would having the same people from the same families passing the reins of leadership to each other in both the national and local governments after elections end?”
That’s up to the Filipino voters.
So, we should not wonder why we as a nation could barely move the needle on socio-political stability and economic progress.
Socio-political stability and economic progress are the most important metrics that we ought to use when evaluating the performance of these leaders who are members of the few families whom we allowed (let me say this again) to lord it over in the political arena. We keep electing them then keep our fingers crossed that they will deliver.
According to Albert Einstein, “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Why in the world do we expect a better-performing government when we keep electing the same politicians from the same families? Are we insane?