Philippines political dynasty, Philippines election 2013, political dynasty

At the end of this month, newly-elected officials in the Philippines will take office.

Many old faces will go back in power... as the recent election result shows that the country is still run by strong political dynasties.

They also dominate local positions, from governors down to village councilors.

But a few independent candidates have managed to succesfully defeat candidates from  political dynasties.

37-year-old Luis Marcaida III is the new Vice Mayor of Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan, the second biggest province in the Philippines.

He’s among a handful of young people who won without money or influence.

“I feel humbled because I ran against someone with a name and from a political family. The voters gave me a chance.”

He won against the nephew of the incumbent mayor.... who himself ran for senator but lost.

Marcaida’s election as the new Vice Mayor shows that you don’t always need to rely on big family names.

“We have to give a chance to other people to serve and introduce their own plans, their programs for the city and the province. But we live in a democratic country and there are democratic processes.”

Marcaida’s running mate was Lucilo Bayron, now the mayor of Puerto Princesa.

He doesn’t come from a political family either but has a proven track record in various government positions.

“I believe the people took into consideration my experience because I’ve been a city administrator, an executive assistant, a planning officer and vice-mayor since 1992. I also have a good track record while working at the city government. They saw me as an honest, hard-working and well-meaning government official. I think that helped a lot.”

Bayron admits that it wasn’t easy being up against a well-entrenched name in politics.

He ran against the wife of the incumbent mayor, whose term limit was coming to an end.

“Everything has an end. There’s a season for everything. It’s time for a change in leadership in Puerto Princesa. That’s what the people chose. And that was the people’s decision in the last election.”

But in general, recent election results show how the country is still in the grip of strong political dynasties.

A total of nearly 180 dynasties rule 73 out of 80 provinces in the Philippines.

And out of 12 elected senators, at least 8 are from political families.

That includes former actor Matthew Mendoza ... now the councilor of Puerto Princesa.

During the campaign, he openly admitted that he was banking on his family name and legacy.

His grandfather was the first governor of the province and his father was mayor in the late 1980s.

“I think it was undeniable that my family name and my fame as an actor was a big advantage. But there were people saying I was just an actor. So I explained during the campaign that I was also a college graduate with a management degree.”

Puerto Princessa is seen by many analysts as a microcosm of the Philippines.

And election results there show that political dynasties are still strong.

Redempto Anda is the director of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

“The body politic of Palawan, of Puerto Princesa, has always been vulnerable to influences of political clans. The Hagedorns, and now the Alvarezes are emerging as a political clan in Palawan. You know we have a new congressman who is an Alvarez, a governor who is an Alvarez, an outgoing congressman who is an Alvarez. And the Alvarezes have began to entrench themselves in power.”

... but there’s still room for young independent candidates to run with a carefully crafted strategy.

“I mentioned something about communications ... I think that is something that this country should nurture. The fact that people had more access in relation to how they chose their candidates, I think that is something that we can nurture, we can develop as a people, to kind of balance the traditional norm of having moneyed individuals or candidates with resources to win the elections.”


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