14 MARCH 2007
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."
There were later comers among them the Duranos, Enriles, Puyats, Sarmientos, and Silverios who ventured into manufacturing during the postwar period. Unlike their predecessors, they did not have a base in landholdings. Rivera says that because they had little capital to start with, these entrepreneurs established and expanded their firms after gaining access to government credit and licenses and government-administered foreign aid and loans. "This segment," he writes, "showed the greatest reliance on state-generated resources in the establishment and maintenance of their firms." These families were still in the legislature up to 2004, their ability to sustain their economic base allowing them to continue in public office, and their government posts in turn enabling their businesses to survive. In the 13th Congress, there was an Enrile in both Houses, and there was yet another Durano among Cebu's representatives.
Ramon Durano, the warlord of Danao, received Japanese reparations assistance in the form of money and machinery to set up a cement company that became the core of his Danao industrial complex. This was his reward for delivering a large bloc of Central Visayan votes to Carlos P. Garcia, who was elected president in 1957. Garcia was then at loggerheads with the Osmeρas and needed an ally in vote-rich Cebu. Rep. Durano, who was related by marriage to Garcia, mobilized his daunting election machinery for the candidate. Through the years, while various Durano family members ran in elections, their enterprises benefited from government loans and subsidies.
"All the assets of the family's domain revenues, land, agricultural commodities, industries, power, and influence were derived from success at the polls," U.S. historian Michael Cullinane observes. "Similarly, much of the profits from their enterprises were invested in elections to guarantee the family's continued dominance."
The Duranos survive to this day because they have a monopoly of the politics and the economy of Danao. Their factories give employment and the clan provides protection for Danao's lucrative cottage industry, the manufacture of illegal guns. The family controls several of the gun factories as well. By the early 1980s, however, the Danao industrial complex was in rapid decline. Still, the Duranos' ability to deliver votes have made them invaluable allies of national politicians and ensured their survival. Today Ramon 'Red' Durano VI represents the fifth district of Cebu in the 13th House. The Duranos have had a seat in Congress since 1949.
Not all political families, however, are fabulously wealthy. Some are able to win elections by relying more on popularity, name recall, and political networks rather than money.
The lider get paid for their work often in cash, but also in kind. In some cases, the lider get regular monthly allowances from the congressional payroll and the funds that representatives are given for their district offices. Incumbents have the advantage, because they can use the resources of their office to bankroll the cost of maintaining a lider network. A candidate's organization also needs to recruit pollwatchers (at least one per precinct) and ensure that they are briefed, transported to the polling centers, fed while they are there, and paid for their efforts. The organization needs to have paymasters sometimes these are also the lider who dispense money to voters, election watchers, and often, also the schoolteachers who man the polls.
The lider, in addition, provide the intelligence work necessary during the campaign, giving feedback on the strength of the other contenders and the dirty tricks these might use. Campaign insiders say that the most crucial date is the Saturday after the end of the official campaign period, which falls on a Friday (the polls take place on the second Monday of May). This is when lider are mobilized for "special operations," which may involve offering sizeable sums to the voters in the areas where the rival candidate is strong so they would either not vote at all or else they would shift their votes to the higher bidder. Sometimes lider themselves are bought off by candidates who offer bigger rewards.
Beyond elections, the lider are the conduit between the community and the congressman. They bring the needs of communities to the legislators' attention, whether it is for a road, a basketball court, or scholarships for village children. Such patronage is important to keep the lider's loyalty; otherwise, they may shift to more generous patrons. Patronage is the oil that keeps the political machine going.
A politician often bequeaths his network of lider to his family members, whether it is a child, spouse, cousin, or other kin running for public office. In some areas, lider families are tied to the same political family for several generations, although that is changing. The multiparty system introduced after 1986, for one, destabilized the neat, two-party alignments of lider in the past. Moreover, as various studies have noted, the breakdown of patron-client relations has meant lider bound less by loyalty ties but by more material considerations. Relationships between politicians and their lider have become more transactional.
Still, political families benefit from the economies of scale. If a family is fielding candidates for several positions, then they can use the same lider and pollwatcher network for all family members. As far as investing resources in a campaign is concerned, there is a certain efficiency in having members of the same clan running for office, as long as they are not running against each other.
In terms of machine, big landowners have an advantage as they can mobilize the votes of their workers or tenants and use the hacienda organization of overseers for the campaign.
Others bring into their campaigns whatever organizational advantage they have, whether these are religious, business, school, fraternity, or civic (e.g. Rotary Clubs) affiliations that enable a candidate to tap into the resources of organized groups. The family, of course, is a built-in political machine, with the network of kin often proving to be committed campaigners and contributors.
In 1995, the PCIJ and the Institute for Popular Democracy published a study on jueteng in a Pangasinan town where the jueteng lord comes from a political family that has been at the helm of the town since 1945. The symbiotic relationship between illegal gambling and politics was made clear in the study. For one, the family's campaign coffers have been enriched by jueteng funds. In addition, the grassroots-based jueteng structure is also a political machine.
As the study explains: "The gambling network, based on a hierarchical system of cabos (supervisors) and cobradores (collectors), does more than collect bets or deliver winnings. It is also an A-1 source of political intelligence and a ready-made machinery for election mobilization. In addition jueteng money contributes not just to campaign coffers but to a social welfare fund administered by the political family."
In the 1995 local elections, for example, the jueteng operator in the Pangasinan town mobilized his gambling network to help his cousin, the mayor, run for reelection. "Through the jueteng network," says the study, "the candidate was able to check on the implementation of backroom political deals between himself and his allies. He also used this machinery to monitor the shifting loyalties of barangay captains and ward leaders and to keep track of the vote-buying rates and schemes of his rivals."
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