May 22, 2015 · Posted in: 2016 Elections, Civil Society, Congress Watch, Culture, Free Expression - Asia, Freedom of Information, General, i Report Features, Jejomar C Binay, Local Government, Peace and Conflict
IN 2007, political scientist Julio Tehankee wrote that the two houses of the Philippine Congress have practically been home for at least 160 families over the last century.
“These families have had two or more members who have served in Congress, and they account for nearly 424 of the 2,407 men and women who have been elected to the national legislature from 1907 to 2004,” Tehankee wrote in the article “And the clans play on.”
More than 20 years after the People Power Revolution that toppled a dictatorship in 1986, the clans persist in the Philippines. In fact, Tehankee observed:
“Political clans have been an enduring feature of Philippine politics. In the upcoming local and congressional contests, that will remain to be so. Majority of these families or clans, in fact, take their roots from local politics. Generally considered as a grouping within the elites of society, the political clan is basically composed of a family and its network of relations that actively pursues elective or appointive political office at the local and/or national level. In many cases, the clan has also managed to maintain power through generations.”
But how are clans built?
PCIJ founding executive director Sheila S. Coronel explored this issue in 2007 and came up with a summary of seven factors upon which dynasties are built.
Money, machine, media and/or movies, marriage, murder and mayhem, myth, and mergers are the seven Ms, the required elements for a dynasty to endure.
The families that endure and survive political upheaval are more likely to be those that have a sustainable economic base to finance their participation in electoral battles. Philippine elections are costly — a congressional campaign in 2004, according to campaign insiders, could have cost up to P30 million in Metro Manila. In rural areas, the price tag is much less: P10 million on average, although campaigns can be run for P3 million or less in smaller districts where the competition is not too intense.
The investment may be worth it, as the rates of return can be high, depending on how well congressional office is exploited. Historically, families have been able to use their positions to expand their landholdings or their business empires, using their preferential access to privileges from the state — loans, franchises, monopolies, tax exemptions, cheap foreign exchange, subsidies, etc. These privileges have made political families wealthy, in turn allowing them to assemble formidable election machines that guarantee victory at the polls. The most successful families are those able to establish business empires not solely dependent on government largesse. They must also be competent enough to run these businesses well, allowing their members to survive electoral defeat and political ignominy.
In Landlords and Capitalists, political scientist Temario Rivera found that 87 families controlled the top 120 manufacturing companies from 1964-1986. Sixteen of these families — about 20 percent of the total — were involved in politics. Most of them were members of the landowning elite that emerged during the 19th century, including the Aranetas, the Cojuangcos, the Jacintos, the Madrigals, and the Yulos. “Through government influence,” writes Rivera, “landed capitalists caused the diversion of state resources to traditional elite economic activities like sugar and coconut milling, limiting further industrial diversification.”
Click on the photo to continue reading the article.