"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Political Dynasty: Ilocos Sur Political Trend, Threatens Life and Dignity

By: Albert Rabe

INTRODUCTION:

Large scale corruption by elected officials, violence and harassment are the dominant features of the political landscape, exploiting and endangering the lives of the majority poor. Candidates of the 2010 elections shows a very disturbing and alarming political trend in Ilocos Sur. Political lordship has become a private property being inherited, passed on or transferred to every family member of a political clan. Worse is elective political position is turned into a family owned and controlled business, to the detriment of various families already wallowing in appalling poverty.

I. What are the prevailing features of this political structure that has become a private property and a lucrative business of one political clan?

A. POLITICAL LORDSHIP AS PRIVATE PROPERTY
1) In Ilocos Sur, 18 of the 33 municipalities or 54.54 % is lorded over by one family, either husband and wife, brothers or sisters, mother-son, father-daughter, in-laws or cousins. (Sta. Cruz, Sta. Lucia, Santa, San Esteban, San Ildefonso, Sto. Domingo, Santiago, Sta. Maria, San Vicente, Salcedo, Vigan, Cabugao, Magsingal, Narvacan, Lidlidda, Sigay, Caoayan, Bantay)

2) In the municipality of Narvacan, after 17 years of mayorship, the father is bequeathing the mayoralty to his son, who is a former board member. While the wife of the former mayor remains as vice-mayor. Their daughter is aiming for a seat at the provincial board. The nephew and sister of the former mayor are also seeking for a seat as SBMs. Six (6) family members targeting a political position at the same time and place.

3) Two brothers are contesting for the mayoralty in the town of San Ildefonso, they’re both un-opposed. While their brother, also a former mayor, is running for board member. Their mother used to be the town’s mayor and a former board member.

4) Further south, in Sta. Cruz town, the long time mayor slides down to vice-mayor to elevate his wife as mayor. They’re sure to bag the positions because they’re both uncontested.

5) Up in the mountains, in Sigay town, the mayor whose term expired, is transferring his position to his son who is unchallenged. In the nearby town of Lidlidda, father and son are eyeing the mayoralty and vice-mayoralty respectively.

6) Husband and wife tandem in the town of San Vicente remained un-opposed for so many elections now. It can be said that there is no democratic freedom in this town because all candidates are un-opposed.

7) In Central Ilocos Sur, in Sta. Maria, a former and long time mayor is posing to come back and he is challenging also a former mayor, who is the husband of the outgoing mayor.

8) In Vigan City, the incumbent mayor, a daughter of a one time governor and also the niece of a former governor and congressman, is seeking another term. While her 1st cousin and son of former governor and congressman, is claiming the vice mayor post. Both are un-opposed. The former vice-mayor dropped down to SBM.

10) In the coastal town of Santa, father and son control the political power. Only switching positions when each term expires. They’re both un-opposed in this year’s poll.


11) In Santiago town, the former mayor shifted to vice-mayor as his son is aiming to take the mayoralty. Their opponents are their cousins.

12) In another coastal town (Caoayan), the outgoing mayor is running for vice-mayor to pave way for his brother at the mayorship. Youngest sibling of a former governor is also claiming the mayoralty.

13) The towns of Sta. Lucia and Magsingal are dominated by mother and son tandem. They only switch positions every after each term expires. Candon and Bantay towns are also controlled by the same political family.

14) Former mayor is running with his son for mayor and SBM respectively in Sta. Catalina, while the father-son in San Juan take turn every after term expiration of the father as mayor.

15) In the provincial level, the former and long time governor is coming back for the province’s top post. While the “outgoing” governor slid down to vice-governor. The seats of the two congressional districts are conveniently controlled by the same political figures.


B. POLITICS OF UN-OPPOSED CANDIDACY

1) Eleven (11) towns (33.33%) have un-opposed mayoralty candidates. (Lidlidda, Salcedo, Narvacan, Bantay, Vigan, San Vicente, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Sta. Cruz, Santa, Sigay)

2) Eigth (8) municipalities (24.24%) have un-challenged mayor and vice-mayor.(Vigan, San Vicente, Narvacan, Bantay, Santa, Salcedo, sta. Cruz, San Ildefonso)

3) One municipality (San Vicente) os totally un-opposed from top to bottom.

C. POLITICS OF “PATAAS-PABABA” OR POLITICAL POWER TRANSFERRED TO FAMILY MEMBER

1) Thirty three percent (33.33% ) or 11 towns have candidates sliding down to vice-mayor or gearing up to mayor after their terms expired. If not, they bequeat their political positions to immediate family members or close relatives. These are the municipalities of San Ildefonso, Narvacan, Cabugao, Sta. Lucia, Sta. Cruz, Sigay, Santiago, Caoayan, Lidlidda, Salcedo and Sinait.

2) For instance, in Cabugao, the last termer mayor is handing over the mayorship to his wife.

3) Up north, in Sinait town, a former full termed mayor who slid down to vice-mayor is gearing up to claim back the mayorship, while a last termer SB is giving his post to his son.

4) These are but few profiles of a political system wherein the power is inherited by a family member or perpetuated by same political personalities via the “Pababa-Pataas or vice-versa” brand of politics.

II. What are the identified root causes of un-opposed politics as private property?

1) Emerging from a dictatorial rule, the framers of 1986 charter have enshrined in the constitution the principle of anti-political dynasty purposely to safeguard the nation from the grip of monarchical and oligarchic regime. However, there was no specific enabling law that could have hastened the full and strict implementation of that very essential and ideal element of a democratic system.
Legislators simply evaded the task of enacting an anti-political law because they’re the beneficiaries of the political dynasty.

2) Political lordship became a private property and a family business. Poll fraud coupled with political violence and massacre have imposed it and aided it to exist and persist. Anti-graft laws were selective, punishing only the “small fishes” while rewarding the powerful and influential political bigwigs.

3) Political dynasty has become a culture or a way of doing politics due to an immature faith. Most Christians have not dared to embrace the challenges of the times, they fell short to the radical prophetic mission.

4) Politics as family owned and controlled business has conveniently thrive due to lack of in depth and proactive analysis. People succumbed to the lures of donations, dole out and patronage. Lifestyle and mindsets of people have erected and galvanized this oppressive political structure.

5) Family celebrations such as baptism, weddings, birthdays, fiestas and even funerals have been used to honor politicians as sponsors, guests or patrons.

III. What are the disastrous effects of un-opposed candidacy and politics owned and controlled by family?

1) Political power owned and controlled by one family is devoid of transparency and accountability. It is a fertile ground of graft and corruption.

2) Conjugal political power has no check and balance which is very basic element of a democratic system and governance. Therefore, this is open to cheating, this kind of politics is anti-people, anti-poor and anti-God.

3) Un-opposed candidacy is not at all a proof of effective governance. It can be deduced as helplessness of people in the democratic exercises. It is blatant insult to be democratic ideals. It robs the people of their right of independent suffrage and their power to renew the political profile.

Conclusion:
The political trend in most towns of Ilocos Sur points to a kind of politics that is family owned and controlled, a luxurious business and a politics of un-opposed or pre-arranged. This political evolution came about because the damaged culture of most families allowed it. This is a social sin. This cause for alarm!

The minimum qualification to capture the reign of power is simply—be a wife or husband, or son or daughter of a political figure, then—power, is handed over in a silver platter.

The people’s freedom to choose and their innate power to change political leadership have been compromised and bastardized!

The political profile in Ilocos Sur is the microcosm of the nation's political landscape. The challenge is, radical transformation of consciousness and culture of families. It can be difficult, but not impossible.

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