By Rowena F. Caronan
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
LOCAL POLITICAL families, not political parties, are important to national politicians as they mobilize electoral support, says political scientist Julio C. Teehankee. National officials, he explains, typically have strong provincial base. They draw on support from well-entrenched networks of local political families, who often change party affiliations to secure state resources and patronage.
Of 68 recurring family names in six vote-rich provinces, or those with at least eight electoral victories in the last 24 years, at least 14 are affiliated with or have declared support for the Liberal Party (LP) of President Benigno S. Aquino III. The opposition equally has the backing of 14 other families, whereas the rest have unclear affiliation.
From the 1992 to the 2013 elections, these 68 families have won 879 or 20 percent of the combined 4,121 seats in their localities, excluding the city or municipal positions, in Cebu, Cavite, Pangasinan, Laguna, Negros Occidental, and Davao del Sur.
With a total of 10.86 million voters, these provinces can already make or break one national candidate’s electoral bid.
Cebu and Cavite are considered opposition bailiwicks, while Davao del Sur is to the Dutertes and Negros Occidental to the Roxases.
Pangasinan in the far north is part of the solid north bloc of the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos that remains a formidable force to reckon with. Laguna, which is a recipient of the continuous urban expansion of Metro Manila, has a mixed political-party landscape.
In 2013, Negros Occidental, Pangasinan, and Cebu were among the provinces with high voter turnout rates at 81.5 percent, 81.4 percent, and 80.8 percent, respectively, or within the national average of 81.2 percent. Laguna (72 percent), Cavite (67 percent), and Davao del Sur (64.3 percent) posted lower voter turnouts.
The political families that have declared support for the candidacy of LP’s standard-bearer Manuel ‘Mar’ A. Roxas III include the Gullases of Cebu, Barzagas and Abayas of Cavite, and Maranons, Ferrers, Escalantes of Negros Occidental.
Although Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr.’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) is backing Senator Grace Poe’s bid for the presidency, its members and political stalwarts in Negros Occidental and Pangasinan have been allowed to choose who to endorse. Poe also enjoys the support of the Duranos of Cebu, Revillas of Cavite, and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, whose clan dominate the mayoral race in San Juan City and Pagsanjan, Laguna.
Those endorsing the candidacy of United Nationalist Alliance’s (UNA’s) standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar ‘Jojo’ C. Binay are the Ramas of Cebu and Remullas of Cavite. Recently, however, Cavite Governor Juanito Victor ‘Jonvic’ Remulla, erstwhile spokesperson of Binay, jumped shipped to the camp of the current presidential frontrunner, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo ‘Digong’ R. Duterte of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Duterte has also drawn support from the Garcias of Cebu and former Senator Edgardo J. Angara’s Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP). The Angara family is a political clan in the province of Aurora in Central Luzon, but it is not only a vote-poor province with only 126,525,000 voters, but also has a lower voter turnout — just 75.7 percent in 2013.
THE CLANS OF CEBU
Cebu has remained on top of the list of provinces with the highest number of voters with 2,722,288 or nearly half of the 6.3 million in Metro Manila, a region of 16 cities and one municipality. Too, Cebu is the center of economic trade in the Visayas, where the bustling metropolitan Cebu City is located. In 2014, Cebu posted the highest financial capacity among the provinces with P28-billion equity, or the difference between the amounts of assets and liabilities of local government units.
Over the last 24 years, majority of Cebu’s 1,021 elected officials, excluding the town council members, had run under LP’s rival parties such as the LDP and Lakas, including LAKAS-Christian Muslim Democrats (LKS-CMD) and LAKAS-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (LKS-KAM).
Regional and provincial political parties in Cebu rarely coalesced with the LP. Aside from the LDP and Lakas, they were often associated instead with the Nacionalista Party (NP), NPC, and UNA. (UNA’s earlier name was United Opposition or UNO.)
In Cebu’s local elections from 1992 to 2013, 14 clans each have had members elected at least 10 times to a variety of seats: congressional, gubernatorial, mayoral, and vice mayoral. The Duranos had 57 electoral victories in the fifth congressional district, Danao City, and towns of Samboan and Sogod. Next to the Duranos are:
• the Martinezes with 20 in the fourth district, Bogo City, and San Remigio;
• the Garcias with 18 in the second and third districts and gubernatorial races;
• the Yaphas with 17 in the third district and Pinamungahan;
• the Ramas with 14 in Cebu City and Poro;
• the Abineses with 13 in the second district, vice gubernatorial races, and Oslob and Santander;
• the Binghays with 12 in Balamban;
• the Fernandezes with 11 in Talisay City and Pilar;
• and 10 each for the Osmenas in the third district and Cebu City, the Creuses in Malabuyoc, the Radazas in Lapu-Lapu City and its lone district, the Wenceslaos in Santander, the Bacaltoses in Sibonga, and the Arquillanos in San Francisco.
These families have controlled Cebu’s influential political parties at the provincial level, including the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) and Probinsya Muna Development Initiative (PROMDI) of the Osmeñas, Alang sa Kalambuan ug Kalinaw (ALAYON) led by the Gullases in the first district, and Partido Panaghiusa led by the Ramas. Its two leading provincial parties in the last three elections, from 2007 to 2013, were the Barug Alang sa Kauswagan ug Demokrasya (BAKUD) formed by the Duranos in 2001, and One Cebu party, by the Garcias in 2007.
The Durano-led Bakud party supported former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Lakas party in 2010. It shifted alliance to NPC and, in 2013, joined the LP coalition. At the time, the feuding family had siblings running for the same position under different political affiliations. In the 2016 polls, though, there are no family members up against each other. But instead of LP’s standard-bearer Roxas and their distant relative, PDP-Laban’s Duterte, the family is supporting Poe largely because a member of the family, Joseph Felix Mari ‘Ace’ H. Durano, serves as one of her campaign managers. Ace Durano is the nephew of Duterte. His father, Danao City Mayor Ramon ‘Nito’ D. Durano III, and the Davao City mayor are second-degree cousins.
The Duranos used to be long-time allies of the Garcias, who were affiliated with the Lakas party in 2010 and UNA in 2013. The two broke ties in 2013 when the Duranos supported the candidacy of LP’s gubernatorial bet, Hilario Davide III, who was running against a Garcia. Last month, the Garcia-led One Cebu party formally declared its support for Duterte and vowed to deliver a one-million vote difference. One Cebu claimed to have dropped its alliance with UNA because, it said, the latter lacked appreciation and reciprocation of One Cebu’s loyalty.
Of the other 12 prominent families in Cebu’s political scene, only the Martinezes, Yaphas, Wenceslaos, and Osmenas fielded candidates under the LP in 2013. The Ramas, Fernandezes, and Arquillanos ran under the Bakud party and UNA. The Binghays and Creuses were associated with One Cebu party, while the Bacaltoses were with the NP and the Radazas with the Lakas party. The Abineses were last elected in 2004 under the Lakas party.
In the 2016 polls, members of the Martinez, Yapha, Wenceslao, and Radaza families are running under the LP. The Gullas-led Alayon also showed support for Roxas, but maintained its support for fellow NP members Senators Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr., and Antonio ‘Sonny’ F. Trillanes IV, who all are vying for the vice presidential position.
THE CLANS OF CAVITE
Cavite comes second on the list of provinces with the highest number of voters with 1,843,163 or three percent of the country’s voting population. It is one of the least-poor province with only 4.1-percent poverty incidence rate in 2012.
Since 1992, the Cavitenos have elected a total of 504 local officials. A quarter or 127 of them ran under the Lakas party, whereas 120 were affiliated with the Partido Magdalo (PM), a provincial party founded and built by the province’s longest running governor, Juanito Remulla. PM allied itself with the LDP in 1992 and 2004, Estrada’s Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (LAMMP) in 1998 when he ran for president, and Lakas party in 2013. A significant number of its elected officials were members of NP.
LP, meanwhile, has garnered 91 electoral victories in Cavite so far, 78 of which were attained in the last three elections, from 2007 to 2013. Most of these were victories of members of the Abaya, Arayata, Loyola, Aguinaldo, Maliksi, Tolentino, and Campaña families who were elected at least three times each in the last eight elections.
These families are part of the 13 different clans that have a minimum of eight electoral victories each in the province. Over a quarter or 132 of Cavite’s total elected officials belong to these clans. The Arayatas and Remullas topped the Comelec list of candidates with each having 14 electoral posts in the last two decades. The Arayatas dominated the politics of the town of Tanza, whereas “Remulla” was a regular name in the second and third congressional districts as well as gubernatorial races.
Next are the Tolentinos with 13 winning candidates in Tagaytay City’s local polls. The Maliksis and Aguinaldos had 11 each in Imus City and the town of Kawit, respectively. Apart from national positions, members of the Revilla family won 10 electoral posts in the second congressional district, Bacoor City, and the province’s vice gubernatorial races. (The “Revillas” are actually Bautistas. “Revilla” is the screen surname used by members of the clan who are active in showbiz, who include Cavite 2nd District Rep. Lani Mercado, wife of Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. Mercado, whose real name is Jesusa H. Bautista, is running for mayor of Bacoor.)
The Barzagas (in the second and fourth districts and Dasmarinas City), Ferrers (in the sixth district and the town of General Trias), and Loyolas (in the fifth district and the town of Carmona) follow with nine electoral wins. Then come the Abayas in the first district, Campañas in the town of General Trias, Nazarenos in the town of Naic, and del Rosarios in the town of Tanza had eight wins each.
In 2013, 10 of these 13 families were affiliated with the LP. Only the Remullas, Revillas, and Nazarenos remained staunchly with the opposition.
The Lakas party of Bong Revilla, who claimed to have been detained since 2014 on plunder and graft charges because of his plan to run for the 2016 presidential race, endorsed the vice presidential candidacy of Marcos. The party, however, failed to reach a consensus on who to endorse in the presidential race. Thus, members are split among Binay, Duterte, and Poe. The Revillas alone are supporting Poe.
Among the 10 recurring family names in the Cavite political scene, the Abayas were the longest members of LP, having been affiliated with the party since 2001. The Arayatas, Aguinaldos, Campañas, del Rosarios, and Maliksis used to be members of LDP and PM, but they became LP converts in 2007. The Tolentinos and Loyolas had run under the Lakas Party, and then switched to LP in 2010. In 2013, the Barzagas and Ferrers joined the National Unity Party (NUP), which was part of the LP-led coalition.
Aquino appointed Francis N. Tolentino as head of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in 2010, and Joseph Emilio Abaya as secretary of Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in 2012. Tolentino is seeking a Senate seat in the 2016 elections and declared his support for Duterte’s presidential bid. He is not running under the banner of the LP, but his brother is.
THE CLANS OF PANGASINAN
Pangasinan is home to the third largest voting population of 1,705,260 and makes up half of Ilocos region’s population. It is among the richest provinces in 2014 with a P4.23-billion equity, which compares with that of highly urbanized cities of Marikina, Calamba in Laguna, and Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental.
Since 1992, nearly half or 426 of Pangasinan’s 922 elected officials, excluding city/municipal councilors, were affiliated with the Lakas party. Others ran under the NPC and its allies (211), the LDP (63), LP (40), LAMMP (23), Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma or REPORMA (15), Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino or PMP (7), and UNA (4). Many, too, were independent candidates (53).
All 14 prominent families that have dominated Pangasinense politics have been affiliated with the Lakas party and NPC of Cojuangco, a Pangasinense political kingpin whose wife belongs to the Oppen political family of Negros Occidental. Among the 14 clans are the Perezes with 22 electoral victories, the Celestes with 19, the Espinos and Reyeses with 17 each, the Sorianos with 15, the Villars with 14, the Resuellos and de Veras with 12 each, the Calimlims, Rosetes, and de Guzmans with 11 each, and the Agbayanis and Peraltas with 10 each.
The Perezes turn up frequently on Comelec’s list of candidates in Pangasinan’s Urdaneta City and the town of San Manuel, as well as in its fifth congressional district, where they fight for dominance against the Cojuangcos. The Celeste family name often shows up in Bolinao’s political scene; the Espinos, in the second district, gubernatorial races, and the town of Bautista; the Reyeses, in the towns of Mabini and San Quintin; the Resuellos, in San Carlos City; and Calimlims, in the town of Mapandan.
In the 2016 elections, the Espinos and Calimlims of the Aksyon Demokratiko (Aksyon) declared their support for Roxas. Their former ally, former Pangasinan fifth district Congressman Mark Cojuangco, has pledged support for Roxas’s rival, Binay, defying his father’s and NPC’s decision to endorse Poe. Both Espinos and Cojuangcos, however, are supporting the vice presidential bid of Marcos. Meanwhile, the Perezes, Peraltas, and Celestes are allied with the NPC, but it remains unclear whose candidacy they support.
THE CLANS OF LAGUNA
Laguna is fourth on the list of provinces with the most number of registered voters with 1,675,366 voters. Laguna’s economy is a mix of industrial, largely boosted by nearby Metro Manila, and agricultural activities in distant areas.
Laguna’s 608 elected officials from 1992 to 2013 were also a mix of several family names affiliated with national political parties such as the Lakas Party (227), LDP (103), LP (49), UNA (40), NPC (39), and NP (28), among others. In 2013, 29 of Laguna’s elected officials ran under the UNA banner; 23 were with the LP; and 17, with the NP.
Only six clans had at least eight electoral victories each in Laguna: The Chipecos won 11 times in total in the second congressional district and Calamba City’s mayoral seats. The Perezes were elected eight times as mayor of the cities of Los Banos and Binan. Eight electoral victories were also enjoyed by the San Luises in the fourth congressional district, provincial seats, and the town of Santa Cruz; the Buesers in the third district and the city of San Pablo and town of Alaminos; the Ramoses in the town of Bay; and the Sanchezes in Calauan City and town of Pakil.
The Ejercito clan, which traces its roots in Laguna, had a total of seven electoral victories in the town of Pagsanjan and gubernatorial positions. Other members of the clan dominate the politics of San Juan City in Metro Manila, where former ousted President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada began his political career. Estrada is endorsing the candidacy of Poe, daughter of his long-time friend, the movie king Fernando Poe. Jr. The latter also ran for president in 2004 but lost.
THE CLANS OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL
Negros Occidental, the country’s major sugar producer, is the fifth most vote-rich province with 1,663,492 registered voters. Both presidential aspirants Roxas and Poe have significant ties to the province. Roxas traces his maternal roots in Bago City, while Poe’s adoptive mother hails from Bacolod City.
For years, several of the province’s 674 elected officials were members of the NPC and the former ruling Lakas party. A third or more of the 83 to 85 local officials belong to either of these two parties. In 2013, however, several of them joined the LP and supported the LP-led coalition. NPC also allied with the LP at the time.
News reports have quoted local NPC members as saying that the NPC national leadership have allowed them to choose who to support in the 2016 presidential candidates, although the NPC has declared that it is backing Poe’s presidential candidacy.
The Marañons, Ferrers, Escalantes, and Zaycos are among the province’s prominent families that have shown support for Roxas’s presidential bid in 2016. The Maranñons dominate the second congressional district and Sagay City as well as the gubernatorial races in the last two decades with 19 electoral victories. The Ferrers are powerful in the fourth district and in La Carlota City. The Escalantes, meanwhile, reign in the city of Cadiz and town of Manapala, and were elected 13 times. The Zaycos obtained 14 electoral posts in Kabankalan City’s 24 years of election.
Nine other families frequently pop up in Comelec’s list of candidates in Negros Occidental. They are the Lacsons who have won 25 electoral posts in the province’s third congressional district and gubernatorial races as well as in San Carlos City and the towns of Murcia and Enrique B. Magalona. Other families include the Alvarezes in the sixth district and town of Ilog with 17 electoral wins; the Yulos in the fifth district, Bago City, and town of Binalbagan with 15 wins; the Lizareses in Talisay City, Palancas in Victorias City, and Toreses in Bago City with 11 wins each; and the Montillas in Sipalay City and Garcias in the town of Moises Padilla with 10 wins each.
THE CLANS OF DAVAO DEL SUR
Davao del Sur down south ranks as the 12th most vote-rich province in the Philippines and the first in Mindanao region with 1,247,362 voters. Its center, Davao City, is Duterte’s bailiwick where he has served as an elected official for more than two decades. Members of the Duterte clan have chalked up a total of 11 electoral victories from 1992 to 2013.
Since 2010, the Dutertes had run under the LP, which has fielded Roxas for the 2016 presidential race. Duterte at first had resisted calls for him to run for president. When he finally decided in December 2015 to enter the race, he obtained support from PDP-Laban and former Senator Manuel B. Villar’s NP. No political clan in Davao del Sur was affiliated with the PDP-Laban in 2013, but two of the province’s nine enduring political clans, which won at least 10 electoral posts in the last eight elections, ran under the NP.
The Cagases, who dominate the province’s first congressional district and won twice in the gubernatorial races, used to be with the Lakas party; they had been with the NP since 2010. The Mariscals of the town of Santa Maria were affiliated with the Lakas party from 1992 to 1998, and with the NPC from 2001 to 2010. They became NP converts in 2013.
Two other political clans were affiliated with the LP in 2013. The Bautistas of the province’s second congressional district and town of Malita ran under the NPC and Lakas from 1992 to 2010. In 2013, they shifted alliance to the LP. The Garcias, which remained unseated in the first congressional district of Davao City, were affiliated with the NPC in 1992 and from 2001 to 2010; they joined the LP in 2013.
Another two of the nine ran under the NPC in 2013. The Lopezes, which won 14 electoral posts in the third congressional district of Davao City and town of Santa Cruz, have frequently changed affiliations from the PMP to the Lakas party, and then to the NPC in 2013. The Latasas of Digos City had been with the NPC since 1992. The Colinas ran under the Lakas party from 1992 to 1998, and then shifted alliance to NPC from 2001 to 2007. They returned to the Lakas party in 2010, and then moved again to NPC in 2013.
Only the Camineros of the town Kiblawan, who were previously affiliated with the Lakas party and NPC, joined Binay’s UNA in 2013.— PCIJ, May 2016
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