Liwayway Vinzons-Chato

Relatives invading House

Relatives invading House
By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Close relatives are seeking to replace almost all of the 79 members of the House of Representatives who are exiting or “graduating” from Congress on June 30.

From Ilocos to Mindanao, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters are swapping posts to keep their hold on power in their districts and provinces.

The best example is President Arroyo, who is running for representative of Pampanga’s second district, a job held by her elder son Juan Miguel or Mikey.

Mikey in turn is eyeing to continue his stay in Congress through the party-list system. He is the first nominee of a group calling itself Ang Galing Pinoy.

Three other Arroyos are running for congressional seats.

In Ilocos Norte, former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos is seeking to replace her son, incumbent second district Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is running for senator.

Her elder daughter Imee is a gubernatorial candidate.

In the first district, Michel Kristian Ablan wants to take the place of his father, outgoing Rep. Roque Ablan Jr., who is running for governor against Imee and incumbent Michael Keon, a relative of the Marcoses.

Graduating Rep. Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur has fielded his son Eric Jr. to take his seat.

In Cagayan province, former Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr., only son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, is reclaiming his seat in the first district, whose incumbent representative is Jack’s wife Salvacion, who is just on her first term.

In the small province and lone district of Quirino, Dakila Carlo Enriquez Cua is seeking to replace his father, outgoing Rep. Junie Cua.

Mayor Kimi Cojuangco of Sison town in Pangasinan wants to take the seat of her husband, nuclear power advocate and outgoing Rep. Mark Cojuangco of the fifth district.

A second Cojuangco would most likely get to sit in the House of Representatives. He is Henry of Tarlac’s first district, brother of billionaire businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.

The first district is the bailiwick of former defense secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., presidential candidate of the ruling Lakas-Kampi. Its incumbent representative is Teodoro’s wife Nikki, who has opted not to seek a second term to help her husband in his campaign.

The Teodoros had planned to field Gilbert’s mother Merceditas, a former assemblywoman and sister of Danding and Henry, for Nikki’s seat. But when Henry chose to run, they decided against her candidacy.

Gilbert and his uncle Danding are not on speaking terms. Pitting Merceditas against her brother Henry would have highlighted their misunderstanding.

In Bulacan, graduating Rep. Lorna Silverio’s husband, Don Ricardo “Carding” Silverio, is seeking to replace her.

Silverio the candidate is a former congressman of the same third district his wife represents. He was a friend of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. He started the Toyota dealership in the country during the Marcos regime.

Even in Metro Manila, relatives are seeking the seats of graduating lawmakers.

In Muntinlupa, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon and son Ruffy, incumbent representative of the lone district, want to swap jobs. The father is running for congressman, while the son is aspiring to be a senator.

In nearby Las Piñas, Mark Villar, son of Sen. Manuel Villar, is seeking to replace his mother, graduating Rep. Cynthia Villar.

Former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita is running for representative of Batangas’ first district, whose present representative is his daughter Eileen.

In Camarines Norte, incumbent Rep. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato is running in the newly created second district, while son Wilfredo is a congressional candidate in the first district.

Rep. Chato is the author of the law that split her province into two districts.

In Marinduque, Rep. Camencita Reyes has chosen to run for governor to give way to son Edmundo, who is aiming to reclaim his congressional seat.

In Iloilo, Rep. Judy Syjuco of the second district is giving way to her husband, August Syjuco Jr., former director general of the Technical Skills Education and Development Authority.

Former presidential legal counsel Sergio Apostol is seeking a congressional comeback by replacing his wife Trinidad as representative of Leyte’s second district.

In the nearby island of Samar, Gov. Raul Daza of Northern Samar and son and incumbent Rep. Paul Daza want to swap jobs.

The same is true with Western Samar. Gov. Milagros Tan and daughter Sharee Ann, the youngest member of the House, want to switch positions.

Governors Daza and Tan are on their third and last term, while Representatives Daza and Tan are just on their first three-year term. Son and daughter have given way to father and mother instead of seeking a second term.

Down south, in Davao City, Karlo Nograles is seeking to replace his father, Speaker Prospero Nograles, as first district representative.

The Speaker, who is on his third and last term, is running for city mayor. He is up against the tandem of Vice Mayor Sarah Duterte, his mayoral opponent, and incumbent Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is running as his daughter’s vice mayoral candidate.

In Zamboanga del Sur, Rep. Antonio Cerilles of the second district is running for governor. His wife Aurora, the incumbent governor, is seeking his seat.

The Constitution bans political dynasties. That’s why its writers limited House members and local officials to three consecutive three-year terms. However, there is no constitutional provision against politicians fielding their relatives to replace them.