By Sheila Coronel*
From Global Investigative Journalism Network

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to present this transcript of the keynote speech by Columbia University’s Sheila Coronel at the 2016 conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors on June 19. Coronel, who has played a key role in spreading investigative journalism worldwide, spoke to 1,850 people — the largest ever gathering of investigative journalists — about networks, collaborations, nonprofits, and a new golden age of global muckraking.

TEN YEARS AGO, when I first moved to New York and gave my first lecture at the Columbia Journalism School, I told students that I believe we are at the dawn of a Golden Age of global muckraking. They were a great class, but they didn’t believe me.

But look at where we are now: It may not feel like it to some of you, but we are seeing, like never before, an explosion of investigative reporting around the world. There are now over 100 investigative reporting centers and organizations outside the U.S. Today, there are muckrakers even in places like Armenia, Bulgaria, Nepal, Venezuela, the Arab world.

Ten years ago, I told my students that I believe we are at the dawn of a Golden Age of global muckraking. They didn’t believe me.

These watchdog groups have seeded the unprecedented collaboration of journalists working across borders and across newsrooms. This past year has shown us how far international investigative reporting has come. Three examples.

This was the year the Panama Papers shook the world. Some 400 reporters from nearly 80 countries produced stories that made headlines everywhere. Their reporting on a leak of 11 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca caused the downfall of Iceland’s prime minister, Spain’s industry minister and Armenia’s most senior justice official. It also sparked tax evasion and money laundering investigations in several continents.

Working together under the direction of the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists, these reporters proved ¬– once and for all – that there is no such thing as offshore secrecy. Thanks to them, tax-evading billionaires, kleptocrats, drug lords and assorted money launderers are quaking in their private jets. They can run but they can’t hide.

Also this year, Seafood from Slaves, an investigation by the Associated Press, won the Pulitzer Prize’s highest honor. A global team of AP reporters found thousands of poor workers from Laos, Burma, and Cambodia held in bondage by operators of Thai fishing vessels.

The AP’s reporting led to the release of 2,000 slaves like Myint Naing, who had been trafficked from Burma and found on one of the Spice Islands in Indonesia. He had been kept 22 years a slave.
Finally, this is also the year the Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova was released from prison.

Khadija was arrested in Dec. 2014 and found guilty of tax evasion, embezzlement and abuse of power. Her reporting had exposed how Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev and his family had snapped up state assets. Using shell companies and nominees, they squirreled their wealth in luxury goods and real estate around the world. And yet it was Khadija, not them, who was accused, tried and jailed.

Khadija would still be behind bars today. But journalists all around the world, including many of you in this room, wrote about her and advocated on her behalf with their own governments and with the EU and the UN.

Her colleagues in the Organized Crime and Corruption Project and elsewhere also collaborated on stories exposing the corruption of the Aliyevs. They called it the Khadija Project, after the IRE’s own Arizona Project.

A lot has been said about how technology has empowered the new global investigative reporting. But it’s not machines that made all this great work possible. It’s people. People like us.

Many of you know that in 1976, a team of investigative reporters from IRE got together after Dan Bolles, an investigative journalist at the Arizona Republic, was killed by a car bomb. They agreed to continue reporting the story that Bolles had not lived to tell.

Their principle was: You can kill the journalist, but not the story.

Similarly, the Khadija Project’s message to the Aliyevs was: You can jail Khadija, but you cannot put an end to exposés. In the end, the Aliyev government realized that the political cost of keeping Khadija in prison outweighed the benefits of setting her free.

Last month, Khadija was released.

A lot has been said about how technology has empowered the new global investigative reporting. The Panama Papers and similar stories benefited from software that allows reporters to communicate and share documents securely across oceans, and from algorithms that enable them to search millions of documents in real time wherever they are.

Dateline New Orleans: Coronel’s record crowd included journalists from 32 countries.

Technology has given us new tools for dealing with big digital leaks and new sources of information, including, as in the case of Seafood from Slaves, ship sensors and satellites.

But let me tell you this: It’s not machines that made all this great work possible. It’s people. People like us. The successes I’ve described demonstrate not so much technological power as collaborative power… the power of individual reporters working together to produce journalism that is greater than the sum of each of their individual efforts.

Since the late 1990s, journalists from around the world have been meeting regularly in conferences and training workshops – like this one — and working jointly on increasingly ambitious cross-border reporting projects. These activities – and also those spirited discussions after hours (and by spirited, I mean alcohol-fueled) – have fostered camaraderie and trust. They have laid the groundwork for a truly global and networked journalism.

The era of the lone wolf is over.

Local and national accountability reporting will continue to be important, but the muckrakers of the future will no longer be so tightly tethered to the nation-state. Crime, corruption, you name it, pollution, human trafficking, money laundering, tax evasion, viruses like Zika, purchases of luxury real estate, the food we eat, the clothes we wear: All these breach national boundaries.

Since the 1990s, journalists from around the world have been meeting regularly in conferences and workshops. These activities have laid the groundwork for a truly global and networked journalism. The era of the lone wolf is over.

And thanks to a global community of muckrakers, the barriers to doing cross-border reporting are no longer insurmountable.

A borderless world needs watchdogs who can transcend borders. The Panama Papers, the Khadija Project, Offshore Leaks are examples of how this can done. They showcase the new global, networked investigative journalism.

Today, the news industry is facing huge challenges in terms of falling revenues. Moreover, all around the world — even in countries that have a free press — governments, corporations and in too many cases, terrorists and demagogues, autocrats and mafia lords, are stifling independent reporting.

There is no silver bullet, no Holy Grail that will end this crisis of news. We are in uncharted terrain. The new, global, networked journalism provides us ONE path forward, ONE model for doing ambitious, high-impact accountability reporting efficiently, rigorously, more cheaply, also more securely.

The most daring and cutting-edge accountability reporting around the world is being done by nonprofits, financially fragile papers or online news sites, and freelancers. They are extremely vulnerable.

This network model is still fluid and evolving. Unlike traditional newsrooms, networked journalism is, for better or for worse, horizontal and non-hierarchical. Membership in the network is informal – there are no membership lists or dues. Members are linked by bonds of reciprocity and trust, and also by self-interest. Units within the network may be competitive, but they choose to share and to work together on specific projects and for particular goals.

Crime and corruption networks work this way and so do jihadist groups. Their activities and lines of communication reach across national borders. Like the mythical Hydra–many heads, hard to find, difficult to exterminate. There are hubs, but no single mission control. Cross-border journalist networks operate the same way, that’s why they are effective. As the Pentagon has now realized about fighting jidhadists, “It takes a network to defeat a network.”

But how can networked journalism be sustained? Until about a decade ago, investigative reporting in the US was robust because it was propped up by a support structure of profitable news organizations that invested in reporting, independent courts that protected press freedom and the right to information, journalism schools that trained the next generation of muckrakers, and prizes that celebrated outstanding work. And of course, there’s IRE. You don’t know how lucky you were, and still are.

Crime and corruption networks reach across national borders. There are hubs, but no single control. Cross-border journalist networks are similar. As the Pentagon now realizes, “It takes a network to defeat a network.”

Elsewhere, there are huge gaps in the support structure. The most daring and cutting-edge accountability reporting around the world is being done by nonprofits, financially fragile newspapers or online news sites, and freelancers. They can barely scrape the money for ambitious reporting. They are also extremely vulnerable to legal harassment and physical threats. In these places, the courts are compromised and governments are unable to protect journalists from those who would them harm.
In too many places, investigative reporting is a high wire act – without a safety net.

Behind its many successes, cross-border investigative reporting is a flickering flame. It needs to be funded and protected. But how and by whom? Who pays for a global public good?

For sure, we have vibrant organizations that keep the fire burning. The Global Investigative Journalism Network is the communications & resource hub for watchdogs around the world. GIJN organizes meetings that bring international journalists to talk about tradecraft. Many of the early collaborative reporting projects were conceived in the corridors of these global conferences.
We have watchdog groups in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Arab world that train journalists, bring them together to discuss common issues and problems, and also fund their work. The OCCRP reports on the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, and other regions on the issues of crime and corruption. And of course, you are all familiar with ICIJ’s stellar work as a hub for distributed, cross-border reporting. It’s headquartered in Washington, D.C. but its staff is a microcosm of the world: The ICIJ director is Irish & worked in Australia, his deputy is from Argentina; the data team is headed by a Spaniard, my former student Mar Cabra, and the chief data analyst is Costa Rican. And there are some very talented Americans there, too, of course.

But funding is tight. David Kaplan, the guru of GIJN, estimates that donors invest at most $20 million a year in international investigative reporting.

That’s about 0.2% of the 7 billion pounds worth of London real estate secretly purchased by prime ministers, business magnates and others using offshore companies established by Mossack Fonseca. Thanks to the Panama Papers, The Guardian found all these properties. Seven billion pounds.

In other words, the investment in global investigative reporting pays off. Massively. The reforms that the Panama Papers have set in motion worldwide will hopefully result in billions of dollars in recovered wealth or unpaid taxes. The OCCRP estimates that the total of money frozen or paid in fines since it started work has reached $3 billion.

The Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism has nearly single-handedly introduced investigative reporting techniques and the notion of accountability in the Arab world. In the past 10 years it has trained 1,600 journalists, including the Arab reporters who worked on the Panama Papers. If we know now that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his allies skirted international sanctions by registering shell companies in places like the Seychelles, it’s because of ARIJ.

What a spectacular return on investment.

Where there is despair that nothing can be done, we offer some hope that if we shine the light on the wrongdoing, the world can be a better place. I am proud to be part of this global community of muckrakers.

In the end, however, the most valuable investments in global watchdog reporting have been made by individual journalists willing to put their lives and their freedoms on the line in order to expose wrongdoing. Khadija Ismayilova remained in Azerbaijan to report, knowing that she would sooner or later end up in jail. Not many of us – I hope – will ever be in her situation but we’re inspired by her courage and strength of purpose.

Hamoud Almahmoud continued teaching an investigative reporting course at the University of Damascus, despite the artillery fire around him. “The university was very close to the frontlines of the fighting,” he recalled “I was teaching despite all the shelling.”

Hamoud is in Amman now, where he is research director of ARIJ. But many of his colleagues in Syria have been killed or fled the country. “We see the window of hope is narrowing,” he told me, “but we are surviving and we are still doing stories.”

Lina Attalah edits the independent website Mada Masr in Egypt that could be closed any time under onerous press laws. But she and her young staff continue to do investigative reporting in order, she says, to “activate the conversation, to reopen the political space, and engage the public in conversation.”

Oscar Martinez heads the investigative unit of El Faro, an online news site in El Salvador. He’s received numerous threats for his stories on gang violence and extrajudicial killings. Last year, he had to flee the country. He’s back but he has panic buttons and other security systems in his house. He can’t even take his three-year-old daughter to the park for fear of attack.

Oscar writes beautifully about the most horrific things that people do to each other. Recalling his reporting on migrants crossing from Central America to the US, this is what he told the Texas Observer:

If there are women who had the courage to tell you how they’d been raped along the path… you as a journalist don’t have the right to just pit that back out onto a page. You have to take the time, dedicate energy and put in a lot of work to write this the best way you can so that that person’s story can generate the feeling of impotence, the rage, the compassion and the hate that it should generate.

Writing, he said, is an ethical responsibility.

For Oscar, for Lina, Hamoud and Khadija, as it is for me, and I’m sure many of you, investigative reporting is more than just exposing the bastards, although that is immensely satisfactory. I started reporting during the twilight of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, when the press was so heavily censored, we couldn’t even publish photographs showing Imelda’s double chin. For me, investigative reporting is about opening up spaces, providing facts to inform intelligent public debate, making readers empathize with the suffering of others.

Where there is despair that everything is broken and nothing can be done, we offer some hope that if we shine the light on the wrongdoing, the world can be a better place. I am proud to be part of this global community of muckrakers. We can; we should; we must keep going and I hope – I KNOW – we will all stand together.

*Sheila S. Coronel is Dean of Academic Affairs at the Columbia Journalism School and director of the school’s Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. She is co-founder and former executive director of the pioneering Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, based in Manila.

Classes in public and private schools nationwide started this week. Here are a few things to know about the new DepEd chief, her plans for K-12 program, and the future of out-of-school children.

THE CENTER for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) takes exception to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s statement, made during his May 31st press conference in Davao City, that most of the journalists who have been killed in the Philippines for their work were slain because they’re corrupt.

While corruption is undoubtedly a continuing problem in the press and media, journalists have been killed for other reasons, among them for exposing corruption in government, as in the case of Tacurong City journalist Marlene Esperat, or for their advocacy in behalf of environmental protection, as in the case of Puerto Princesa’s Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega. Some have also been killed for exposing anomalies in local governments as well as for fighting criminality. A 2006 CMFR study in fact found that an overwhelming number of those killed since 1986 were exposing corruption and criminal syndicates in the communities. Because a significant number of those accused of killing journalists are local officials, as well as police and military personnel, the killings also suggest that the slain had been successful in exposing official wrongdoing and collusion with criminal groups.

Nevertheless, CMFR has never discounted the possibility that some of the journalists killed since 1986 were corrupt, or had been irresponsible. But we have always held that no one deserves to be killed for either offense, and that, if a journalist has offended the subject of his reports or commentary, the latter has a number of options for redress, among them bringing the offense to the attention of the media organization concerned, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) or the Press Councils, or, as legal resort, the filing of a libel complaint before the courts. Since the KBP and the Press Council are hounded with failed responses, we have to acknowledge libel as a legitimate recourse even though we object to its criminalization.

President- elect Duterte was correct in saying that irresponsible, biased, paid-for reporting and comment do lead to a journalist’s being killed. But the killing of anyone is nevertheless still a crime, and it doesn’t matter whether the victim is a journalist or not. Everyone, including journalists, is entitled to, and deserves the protection of the State. Far from suggesting that nothing can be done about the killing of journalists, we have made policy recommendations that could help to stop such violence, steps which call on law enforcement agencies to do a better job of protecting citizens and which could help to end the culture of impunity.

Although he has said in some instances that some of his statements are said in jest, it did not seem that he was joking in this instance. CMFR hopes that the President-elect’s statements are not interpreted by those who would silence journalists for whatever reason—whether they feel they have been abused by the media, or whether they have something to hide from the public—as a license to kill journalists.

Was he still speaking as Mayor of Davao City, thinking only of the particular case of Jun Pala about which he has strong opinions? As President of the Philippines, Mayor Duterte would hopefully be more circumspect. The killing of journalists is after all not something to be made light of, having earned the attention and condemnation not only of advocate organizations in the Philippines, but also of international press freedom watch groups, the United Nations and the European Community.

CMFR has established that 152 journalists have been killed in the line of duty since 1986. This number is a stain on our claim as a democratic society and exposes our boast about press freedom in the country as a sham. Despite some of its practitioners’ admitted flaws, the killing of journalists cannot be dismissed simply as something that cannot be helped.

A democratically elected president must value the free press as essential to the democratic system that has elected him. Rodrigo Duterte, freely elected by the people, whose campaign relied on the free press to report his candidacy owes the Philippine press more than just this glib response.

By Vino Lucero

WEEKS after balloting day last May 9, the campaign posters and stickers of some candidates remain, a clutter of messy memories on the walls, lamp posts, and electric wires of the city.

A photo-walk session over the weekend on the streets of Krus na Ligas, Teachers Village, and UP Village in Diliman, Quezon City, painted this ugly picture of uncleared debris after the vote.

And while the campaign teams of some candidates have launched their respective clean-up drives, the burden of cleaning the city of election garbage has fallen largely on the shoulders of lowly garbage collectors.


Posters of presidential candidates Jejomar Binay and Grace Poe and Quezon City’s fourth district councilor candidate Al Flores still hang from an electric post along Mapagkawanggawa Street.


The roof of this waiting shed along CP Garcia Avenue bears the face of presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte.


The images of Raquel Malañgen and Irene Belmonte, both councilor candidates in the fourth district of Quezon City, spring from electric wires in Krus na Ligas.


Weeks after festivities in Krus na Ligas and the elections, banderitas and posters of local candidates offer an eccentric mix of draperies.


Campaign posters hang below a “Thank You” sign in Krus na Ligas, sending a somewhat subliminal message to voters.


Some effort has been exerted to remove some campaign stickers of certain candidates yet still, the food strip of Maginhawa Street bears witness to the unfinished task.


Light to heavy rain in recent days have soiled some unremoved campaign posters.


This barangay security post along Matimtiman Street remains a virtual bulletin board for the posters of local candidates, weeks after election day.


Village gates have turned into a show window of campaign paraphernalia.


Clean up the city of campaign posters? Some party-list groups have failed in this task.


An electric post on Matimtiman Street in UP Village still hosts the images of Marra Suntay, 2016 candidate for councilor in Quezon City, and Bong Suntay, a candidate in previous election.




Here’s the full statement of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in response to the proposition of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to reimpose death penalty and adapt a “shoot-to-kill”policy in his war against crime.

FLAG Statement p-1

FLAG Statement p-2

FLAG Statement p-3

FLAG Statement p-4


By Davinci S. Maru

MILLIONS of Filipino voters cast their ballots today to elect a new president and 18,000 other elective positions. These are scenes from the voting day in Batasan Hills, Quezon City.


















By Rowena F. Caronan
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

PCIJ. Clans, 6 Vote-Rich Provinces, may 2016

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.

National-local grids

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.


PCIJ. Cebu Top clans, may 2016

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.


PCIJ. Cavite Top clans, may 2016

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.


PCIJ.Pangasinan Top clans, may 2016

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.


PCIJ. Laguna Top clans, may 2016

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.


PCIJ. Negros Occidental Top Clans,  may 2016

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.


PCIJ. Davao del Sur Top clans, may 2016

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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