Arroyo’s ally has power of life and death

Arroyo’s ally has power of life and death
Inquirer Mindanao, Inquirer Visayas

Read Part 1: Congress won’t end reign of political dynasties

Read Part 2: 109 years of Ortegas in La Union; Gordons, Magsaysays in Zambales

Read Part 3: Little has changed in politics and poverty in S. Luzon
(Last of four parts)

MANILA, Philippines—Nothing could be more brazen a display of power by a political dynasty than having a street, village, or even town named after it for a single reason—no one dared question it.

Such is the complete control of the Ampatuan clan, a staunch ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, over Maguindanao until the mass murder of rivals and journalists on Nov. 23 put the province on media spotlight.

That the massacre happened in Ampatuan town was no coincidence. Everywhere in the province, the Ampatuan name is etched in the same way hot iron brands cattle. The main suspect in the killings, Andal Ampatuan Jr., is mayor of Datu Unsay, a town in the province named after one clan member.

A rival clan, the Mangudadatus, is as entrenched but occupies a territory smaller than the Ampatuans’. Their reign over their domain, however, is as firm.

Mindanao and the Visayas teem with such blood relationships pumped into the veins of the islands’ politics and government.

Caraga: 5 clans under control

Caraga [Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Island] has a voting population of 1.2 million, but the number of families in control can be counted with the fingers.

In the regional capital of Butuan City, the Plazas are one of them. Leonides Theresa is running for mayor to replace her husband, Democrito II. A son, Randolf, is running for councilor. A brother, Roscoe, is running for mayor of Nasipit town in nearby Agusan del Norte.

Democrito Plaza II’s sister, Gov. Valentina Tina, is now candidate for representative of a newly created district. A brother, Adolf, is running to take her place.

Another sister, Evelyn Plaza-Millana, is in the congressional race in the second district, which will be vacated by Rodolfo, now running for senator.

Agusan del Norte has the Amantes. Erlpe John, incumbent governor, wants another term. Sister Angelica is gunning for second district representative, which their father, Edelmiro, is vacating.

Edelmiro’s nephew, Ferdinand Jr., is up against a relative, Leonides, in the city’s mayoral race.

In Surigao del Norte, former Gov. Robert Lyndon Barbers is running for Surigao City mayor. Brother Ace, incumbent governor, is seeking reelection.

The Matugas clan is the only formidable opponent of the Barbers. Sol, wife of reelectionist first district Rep. Francisco Matugas, is seeking the governorship. Francisco’s elder brother, Ernesto, is running for Surigao City mayor.

In the lone congressional district of Dinagat, cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. is unopposed. His mother, Glenda, the incumbent representative, is running for governor and his sister, Jade, for vice governor. Two other siblings are unopposed in the mayoral races in two towns.

In Surigao del Sur, three-term Gov. Vicente Pimentel Jr. will relinquish his post, hopefully to brother Johnny.

Pimentel Jr. is running for mayor of Carrascal town, their political stronghold. An older brother, Alexander, the incumbent mayor, is running for reelection against a relative.

Dimaporo country

The Dimaporos still dominate politics in Lanao del Norte.

Imelda Quibranza or Angging, wife of outgoing Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, is seeking the congressional seat in the second district. Their daughter, Aliah, wants to replace her father as representative of the first district, while their son, Khalid, is seeking a second term as governor.

The Dimaporos are facing no formidable opponents.

Abdullah is a son of Mohammad Ali Dimaporo, one of the most powerful Mindanao politicians during the dictatorial rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.

The Dimaporos started its hold to political power when Ali won a congressional seat in 1949.

N. Cotabato: 6 Piñols running

Six of 11 Piñol brothers in North Cotabato are seeking different positions.

Vice Gov. Manny Piñol plans to become governor again; Rep. Bernardo Piñol Jr., Magpet Mayor Efren Piñol and Mlang Mayor Lito Piñol are up for reelection; Ferdinand Piñol is running for mayor of Matalam; and Pat Piñol, for vice mayor of Kidapawan City.

The Piñol brothers refuse to be called a dynasty. In a text message, the vice governor said those calling them a dynasty are themselves members of political dynasties.

While her father, Roger Taliño, is running for mayor in Carmen town, Emmylou Lala Taliño Mendoza, is in the gubernatorial race. Her husband is a nominee of the party-list group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines. A brother is running for councilor.

Cerilles turf

The province is Cerilles territory. The family’s reign started in 1969 when patriarch Vicente was elected member of the Marcos’ parliament, Batasang Pambansa.

Second district Rep. Antonio Cerilles sees nothing wrong with one family lording it over “for as long as the people accept you.” He plans to swap seats with his wife, Gov. Aurora Cerilles, while their son, Ace William, is reelectionist mayor of Dumalinao town.

Aurora’s brother, Canuto Enerio, is running for mayor of Lakewood town.

Jalosjos power base

The Jalosjoses have kept their base in Zamboanga del Norte. Lately, however, the family is expanding its presence to as far as Zamboanga Sibugay and Misamis Occidental.

Romel Jalosjos is running for governor in Zamboanga Sibugay, while Romeo Jalosjos Jr. is a candidate for second district representative. Svetlana Pal Jalosjos, daughter of child rapist and former Rep. Romeo Jalosjos, is vying for mayor of Baliangao, Misamis Occidental

Cesar Jalosjos is running for third district congressman. Nephew Frederick Seth Pal, son of Romeo, is running for first district representative. Another relative, Johanna Jalosjos, is running for provincial board member.

One obstacle on the Jalosjos path is another clan, the Hofers.

Gov. George Hofer is on his last term and is keen on becoming mayor of Ipil town. Planning to take his place is daughter Dulce Ann. Son Jet is running for second district representative.

Bukidnon: Like pineapples

The Zubiris have become an integral part of the political landscape as pineapples have become Bukidnon’s agricultural lifeblood.

Gov. Jose Zubiri is running for vice governor. Son Jose Miguel Zubiri is incumbent senator. In the third district, Jose Ma. Zubiri III, is seeking reelection as representative.

Standing in the clan’s way for total dominance is another clan—the Acostas. Former Rep. Nereus Acosta is running for senator. Mother Ma. Socorro, also a former representative and mayor of Manolo Fortich town, wants a House seat again.

Camiguin: The Romualdos

Aside from its mangoes and festival, the island of Camiguin is known for its political clan—the Romualdos. Pedro is seeking reelection as congressman, while son Jesus is running for governor.

Iloilo: 2 clans clashing

In Iloilo, two clans are fielding the most members in the May 10 elections—Tupas and Garin.

Seven members of the Tupas family, led by incumbent Gov. Niel Tupas Sr., are running. In 2007, four family members ran and won.

Niel Sr. is running for fourth district representative, while his son Raul, incumbent Barotac Viejo mayor, is running for governor. Another son, Niel III, plans to take over Raul’s post, while yet another son, Niel Jr., is running for a second term as fifth district representative.

Two other sons are running—Nielo for provincial board member and youngest child Nielex for councilor of Iloilo City. A son-in-law, Parly Balleza, is running for councilor of Banate town.

The first district is traditional bailiwick of the Garins. Oscar Jr., incumbent board member, is running for vice governor. His wife, reelectionist Rep. Janette Loreto, and his sister, Christine, mayor of Guimbal town, are unopposed.

His mother, San Joaquin Mayor Ninfa Serag-Garin, is running for a third term. Another relative, Sharon, is a nominee of the party-list group Aambis-Owa. The family patriarch, Oscar Garin Sr., is currently Philippine Coconut Authority administrator.

Rep. Ferjenel Biron is seeking reelection in the fourth district. His father, Barotac Nuevo Mayor Hernan Biron Sr., wants a second term, while his brother, Dumangas Vice Mayor Hernan Biron Jr., is running for provincial board member.

House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Arthur Defensor Sr. (third district) plans to regain his post as governor, while his son and namesake, provincial board member Arthur Defensor Jr., seeks to replace him in Congress.

The Salcedos still rule the town of Sara and are expanding their presence to the provincial level. Neptali Salcedo Sr. is running for mayor to replace his wife, Mayor Ermelita Salcedo. Their son, Neptali Jr., is running for reelection as vice mayor, while another son, Jesus, is running for provincial board member.

Antique: Zaldivar vs Javier

The Zaldivars and Javiers are dominant in Antique.

Last-termer Rep. Exequiel Javier is running for governor, while his son Paolo Everardo is running for congressman against Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez, a last-term governor. Perez’s nephew, Calixto III, is running for reelection as provincial board member.

Guimaras: Navas again

In Guimaras, Rep. Joaquin Carlos (JC) Rahman Nava and his brother, Gov. Felipe Nava, are both seeking second terms.

Aklan: Power couple

Aklan Rep. Florencio Miraflores is seeking a third term. His wife, Maria Lourdes, wants a second term as mayor of Ibajay town.

Vice Gov. Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo is seeking a second term. Her brother, Teodoro Calizo Jr., is unopposed in the mayoral race in Balete town.

Marañons rule

The Marañons have become one of the most dominant political clans in Negros Occidental.

Sagay Mayor Alfredo Maranon Jr. is now running for governor, while his son, Alfredo III, is seeking reelection for second district representative.

A nephew, Sagay Vice Mayor Leo Raphael Cueva, is running for mayor, while another nephew, Joseph Gerard, is running for vice mayor against another relative, Kent Javelosa.

Four members of the Dela Cruz clan are running for another term in Don Salvador Benedicto town—Marxlen for mayor; his mother Cynthia for vice mayor and father Nehemias, for first district board member; and brother Nehemiah Joe, for councilor.

Genaro Alvarez is retiring as representative of the sixth district so he is fielding his lawyer-daughter, Mercedes, to take his place. His son, John Paul, is running for mayor of Ilog town to replace the current mayor, his wife Joyce.

Lourdes Socorro Escalante plans to replace her husband Manuel for mayor in Manapla town, and Judith Coscolluela, for husband Esteban in Murcia town, who is running for third district representative.

Patrick Escalante wants to replace his brother, Mayor Salvador Escalante of Cadiz City, who is running for board member.

In Himamaylan City, Agustin Ernesto Bascon is running for mayor in place of his mother Carminia Bascon, but he is being challenged by an uncle, Antonio Gatuslao. In Sipalay City, Vice Mayor Oscar Montilla is running for mayor in place of his mother, Soledad Montilla.

Cebu: Osmeña, Garcia, Rama

How many names sound familiar in politics in Cebu? They’re quite easy to remember—Osmeña, Rama and Garcia.

Tomas Osmeña, outgoing Cebu City mayor, is running for congressman. His wife Margot wants to become a councilor.

Seeking another term are the Garcia patriarch, Pablo, for second district representative, his daughter, Gwendolyn, for governor, and his son, Pablo John, for third district representative. Alvin Garcia, Gwendolyn’s cousin, is running for mayor.

Bohol: Emerging dynasties

Leading the emerging dynasties in Bohol are the Chattos of Balilihan town and the Cajes family of Trinidad town.

Third-termer Rep. Edgar Chatto is running for governor. His mother, Victoria, is no longer running for reelection as mayor of Balilihan, to give way for her nephew and vice mayor, Dominisio.

Edgar’s brother, Efren, is running for vice mayor. A brother-in-law, Jose Antonio Veloso, is challenging Dan Lim in the mayoral race in Tagbilaran City. Lim’s nephew, John Geesnell Yap II, is running for councilor.

In the second district, outgoing Rep. Roberto Cajes is swapping positions with his wife, Trinidad Mayor Judith Cajes.

Elpidio Jala, a retired education superintendent, is running for governor. His nephew, incumbent Rep. Adam Relson Jala, is giving way to his father, Eladio. But Eladio withdrew his candidacy to accept an appointment as commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission in a deal believed meant to eliminate any opponent for Arthur Yap, former agriculture secretary who is now unopposed in the congressional contest.

In the first district, Board Member Cesar Tomas Lopez is seeking reelection like his brother, Loon Mayor Lloyd Peter Lopez. Their cousin, Rene Relampagos, is running for congressman.

Three Jumamoys are running for another term in the second district—Josephine Socorro for board member; son Jose Jono for Inabanga mayor; and sister Jovanna, for councilor.

Board member Amalia Tirol, wife of former Gov. David Tirol, is running for mayor of Ubay and is fielding her daughter, Mutya Kismet Tirol-Macuno to take her place. Her sister-in-law, Nuevas Tirol-Montes, is in the vice mayoral race in Tagbilaran.

Another board member, Maria Fe Camacho-Lejos, is running for mayor of Getafe against her estranged nephew, Vice Mayor Cary Camacho. The third mayoral candidate, Manuel Monillas, is a brother of outgoing Mayor Teresa Monilla-Camacho. Camacho-Lejos is supporting her brother, Feliberto Camacho, as her replacement.

Also running for board member is Dr. Romulo Cepedoza, provincial vice president of the Association of Barangay Captains. His brother, Danao Vice Mayor Jose Cepedoza, does not have any rival like their cousin, Danao Mayor Louis Thomas Gonzaga.

Also a candidate is former board member Godofreda Olavidez-Tirol, who had served three terms. Her husband, former board member Victor Tirol, is a younger brother of the former governor and Tirol patriarch.

More familiar names

In Negros Oriental, Rep. George P. Arnaiz is running for reelection. His brother, Apolinario, is running for board member and another brother, Apollo, is running for mayor against sister-in-law Sally Brown, wife of Apolinario.

Jocelyn Limkaichong wants to be reelected for first district representative, as well as her husband, Lawrence, for mayor of La Libertad town.

Gov. Emilio Macias II is running for reelection. His son, Edwin, incumbent board member, is running for councilor of Dumaguete City.

Valencia Mayor Rodolfo Gonzalez Jr., on his last term, is running for vice mayor with his brother, Enrique as the mayoral candidate. Another brother, Freddie, is running for councilor.

Basay Mayor Beda Canamaque, also on his last term, is now aspiring to become vice mayor with his wife, Nochelyn, to take his place.

Guihulngan Mayor Ernesto Reyes is running for reelection with son Carlo as running mate.

In the town of Zamboanguita, Mayor Kit Mark Adanza is running for reelection while his father, Board Member Marcelo Adanza, is running for third district representative.

Samar: Grandma, ma, son

Milagrosa T. Tan, who was suspended for 60 days for a graft case, is on her last term as governor of Samar. She was seeking a congressional seat but was disqualified for not being a natural-born Filipino. Her daughter, Sharee Ann, is running for governor with her son, Stephen James, as running mate. Stephen James’ wife, Councilor Stephany U. Tan, is running for reelection. Stephany’s father, Catbalogan City Mayor Coefredo Uy, is running for reelection.

Standing in the way of the Tans are the Figueroas. Catalino, a former congressman, is running again for the same post. His son, Neil, is running for reelection as mayor of Zumarraga town.

Biliran: 2 rival clans

Two clans in Biliran stand in the way of each other.

Gleen Chong’s bid for reelection as representative is opposed by Rogelio Espina, a former governor. Both belong to the two most powerful families in the town. Gleen’s father, Charles, is up against Rogelio’s brother, Gerardo, in the gubernatorial race.

Gerardo Espina Sr., a former representative, is running for mayor of Kawayan town in tandem with his son, Rodolfo. His daughter, Roselyn Espina Paras, wants to become vice mayor of Naval town.

Leyte: Mother and son

In Leyte’s fifth district, Carmen Cari is running unopposed for mayor of Baybay City. Her running mate, also unopposed, is son Michael, the incumbent mayor. A cousin, Carlos Jericho Petilla, is unopposed in his bid for a third term as governor. Jericho’s mother, Remedios, is running for mayor of Palo town.

In the fourth district, incumbent Rep. Eufrocino Codilla Sr. fielded his son, Eufrocino Jr., to replace him. He is challenged by actor Richard Gomez.

Two other Codillas are in the race for another term—Eric for Ormoc City mayor and Elmer for Kananga mayor.

In the second district, former presidential adviser and former Rep. Sergio Apostol is again seeking a House seat. His wife, Trinidad, is running for mayor, while their daughter, Anlie, incumbent Carigara mayor, is running for board member.

The Romualdezes rule Tacloban City. Seeking another term are Alfred, the mayor, his wife Cristina, a councilor, and a cousin, Ferdinand Martin, the representative.

Mercados in, Yñiguezes out

When the Yñiguez clan lost power in Southern Leyte with the death of former Speaker Nicanor Yñiguez, the Mercados filled the vacuum.

Brothers Roger and Damian Mercado are now the powers-that-be in the province. Franklin A. Caliguid, Carlo Agamon, Julie S. Alipala and Grace Cantal Albasin, Inquirer Mindanao; Nestor Burgos Jr., Chito A. Fuentes, Carla P. Gomez, Alex Pal, Vicente S. Labro and Jani Arnaiz, Inquirer Visayas

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.