The War on Political Dynasties

The hate on political dynasties is palpable. The question is always asked of politicians, many of whom are scion of political families. I’m sure Bam Aquino and Nancy Binay will continue to have to answer their for or against, or try to spin the political dynasty question. The question has popped up in the last few election. The 1987 Constitution of course, “ban,” political dynasties. The caveat of course— Congress should pass a law “activating it”.

Since 1987, dynasties have risen. President Benigno S. Aquino III is the son of the first President Aquino. And his father was a Senator of the Republic. The Aquino’s have been prominent in the last 30 years of our Nation’s history, and the prominence has brought them to politics.

The Aquinos aren’t the only ones. The Estradas, the Binays, the Cayaetanos, the Rectos, the Villars, the Macapagal-Arroyos have thrived in the last 20 years or so.

Joseph Estrada was President. His son, Jingoy is a Senator. His wife, was for a time, also Senator. His other children are in prominent positions in local government. Then there are the Binays who have virtually ruled Makati since 1987. The Cayaetano siblings are both in the Senate, and remain strong. The Marcoses too have survived their post-1987 exile and now enjoy political power. And new generations of families are on the rise. the Pacquiaos, for example are thriving politically. There are many more such names, and families thriving in the local level. I should know. I know one or two of them.

The point of course is not to vilify or make these names, and scion, heroes, but to point out that many prominent names have risen in the past 30 years since the 1987 Constitution, supposedly, intended not for this to happen.

The hate against political families come in two dynamics. The first is knowing Power is concentrated in a few hands. Which obviously, it has in the past half a century or so. The second is the increasing frustration on the political bench. That the game is about name recall, and “political branding“. If this were a basketball game, the sports commentator would call it, “a shallow bench”. And it is. Just look at the current line up of Senators. Many of them “household names”— even the ones who are in the bottom of the barrel. Macedas, Cojuancos, Magsaysays fill up the list.

So our elections is like electing peerage. Peerage for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term is the system of hereditary or honorary titles. For example, the Duke of blah blah. the Baroness of so on, and so forth. The titles are created, and awarded by the ruling monarch, and given to people.

The thinking goes on like this. We the People, being sovereign in the Philippines have “elected” these people into their own “peerages”. So you have a “virtual” aristocracy.

Now, I find the hate against political dynasties to be, misplaced. Bam Aquino, for example, isn’t the President, or former Senator Aquino, nor former President Cory Aquino. Nancy Binay isn’t the Vice President. Jack Enrile isn’t Juan Ponce Enrile. They should be judged by the merits of their campaign, their brains, their messaging or lack thereof in any case just as any candidate should. They are scion of the families. If they didn’t have their last name— are they still qualified to be Senator? Just because they have their last name, does it mean, they have no right to run for public office? What if they, are, the “best qualified”? Does this mean we don’t get to “hire” them, just because they are scion? Do you chop off your good hand, just because it touched manure?

My point is this. Blind hate to the idea of political dynasties is wrong.

Now, this isn’t to say that those against political dynasties have no point.

They do. They do, a lot.

In fact, the whole idea of power not being concentrated on a few families isn’t a wholly bad idea. The problem of course, no one wants to break the cycle, or no one is interested to break it, or no one has the entire picture in his or her head as to how to break it.

Don’t even bother asking the political families themselves to break the spell. Hey, would you? In their place? Would you lift a finger to break the status quo?

I thought so.

Now, this whole idea of breaking political dynasties require foresight, and planning. It would take years. The ingredients— the potential— of course are already in place. You have the party-list system, which is, greatly imperfect, but could be the step in the right direction. It would take someone with patience, and the determination to change the political landscape. It would also mean having to win the hearts and minds of people through different campaigns, and different races. Someone just needs to try and win races. And after winning, govern properly to win again, and again, until pretty soon, we do have a dynamic system in place. So many variables to the equation. It is a tall, and nearly impossible order.

The alternative of course is blind hate against political parties. Hate, in the words of Master Yoda, leads to suffering. That, never ends well.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.