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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bizarre Political Election - Only in the Philippines

The Philippine mid-term election race has finally culminated with the proclamation of the 12 winners for the Senate from among the more than 33 candidates who filed their candidacies for the national posts.  Nonetheless, the election campaign was still dominated by traditional politics where dirty tactics are employed such as character assassination, voter’s intimidation, religious sector intervention, vote buying and fraud.

Obviously, the dispute and junking of party-mates at the provincial and local levels worsened from bad to worse where powerful personalities and political clans dominated the local election. The national alliance of the Liberal and NPC parties is definitely self-serving for the Aquino administration. Consequently, the temporary coalition sowed confusion among the national and local candidates that resulted in the defiance of local LP parties to respect the partnership since most opponents for local positions come from the NPC party.

It is without doubt that the 2013 mid-term election is not only an acid test for the sustainability of the Aquino administration in its economic achievements but most importantly serves as a prelude to the next presidential derby in 2016. The formidable victories of the administration and coalition candidates in the Senate  definitively assures President Benigno Aquino III of a majority in the legislature needed to pass legislation for his programs legacy before he leaves office in 2016.

The domination of both the Senate and House of Representatives by the President’s allies may serve as too strong a temptation for the President to amend the Constitution in lifting the Presidential term limits in order to extend his term of office to access to absolute power. While this is only a food for thought, it is dreadful to even contemplate on the realization of this event which is not impossible.

Bewildering Victories of “Underdogs” Grace Poe and Nancy Binay

Despite the harsh criticisms and negative pronouncements of the candidacies of Grace Poe and Nancy Binay from the tri-media, the victory of aforementioned neophyte female candidates is in itself a unique consequence of the election. More than that, with Grace Poe topping the list of the 12 winning Senatorial victors with more than 20 million votes, her win distorted the professional prediction of every political analyst and tactician in the country.

This is the same case with Nancy Binay who was chosen as a substitute for an UNA candidate who withdrew before the campaign started and given almost a nil chance to win the election. Is this the election year of the “underdogs”?

Widow of Late Sec. Jesse Robredo Won Over a Political Dynasty Stalwart
Atty. Leni Robredo, the widow of well-loved former Naga City Mayor and DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, won as congresswoman of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur. The humiliating defeat of a stalwart of a political dynasty in the province, Nelly Villafuerte, the wife of incumbent Rep Luis Villafuerte Sr ended the Villafuertes dynastic family’s reign for more than 4 decades. Atty. Robredo obtained 102,694 votes as against Villafuerte’s 31,364.

As reported by a national daily, the recent victory of Atty. Leni Robredo, widow of the late Jesse Robredo has once again evoked memories of the late DILG Secretary and Mayor of Naga City. Despite the vote-buying that occurred in their district in Camarines Sur, Atty. Robredo still won by a huge margin which was caused mainly by the overwhelming desire of her constituents to finally put an end to the Villafuerte political dynasty that has ruled their district for more than 20 years.

Philippine Local Election Winner Decided by a Coin Toss 
Courtesy of blog.republicofmath.com
In a small municipality of San Teodoro in Mindoro Oriental, the 2 political mayoralty candidates, Marvic Ferarren and Boyet Py, both received identical 3,236 votes after the canvassing. In order to break the tie, the Commission on Election suggested for the two candidates to flip a coin five times each, which is allowed under the country's Election Code. After the first round of the coin toss, they tied again. However after the second round, Ferraren won the coin toss and was declared as the elected  Mayor of San Teodoro. "Both of them accepted the result. They shook hands and embraced," COMELEC Official Pagilagan said. What country in the world can beat that?

 Ex-Convict Former Philippine President Elected Mayor of Manila  
Joseph Estrada, ousted President after the 2001 anti-corruption revolution, was declared the winner of Manila's Mayoral election defeating incumbent Mayor Lim.   

Estrada was elected President in 1998 with a wide margin of votes separating him from the other challengers, and was sworn into the presidency on June 30, 1998. However, allegations of corruption resulted to an impeachment trial in the Senate, and in 2001 Estrada was ousted by "People Power 2" after the prosecution walked out of the impeachment court when the Senator Judges voted negative in the opening of the second envelope.

In 2007, he was sentenced by the special division of the Sandiganbayan to “life sentence” for plunder, but was later granted pardon by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He ran for president again in the 2010 presidential election, but placed second behind Senator Benigno Aquino III.

Estrada, 76, capitalized on his movie-star popularity, particularly among the poor, and promised to reverse urban decay of the historic capital along Manila Bay. Manila was once a lively tourist spot, but the streets have become neglected and many residents complain of crime.

People’s Champ Re-elected as Sarangani Congressman, Wife Jinkee Won as Vice Governor
Courtesy of bleacherreport.com
A National daily reported that” Manny Pacquiao, current WBO welterweight boxing champion and seven-time title holder scored the most personally satisfying win of his life in his birthplace in the country's national elections early Tuesday morning, soundly defeating a heavily favored candidate, Roy Chiongbian, from an entrenched billionaire clan to win a seat in the Philippines Congress representing the province of Sarangani in Mindanao. Pacquiao, along with other Sarangani candidates running on his People's Champ Movement (PCM) party ticket, won landslide victories in the province, including his wife Jinkee Pacquiao as Vice Governor.”

Murder Fugitive Candidate Elected Mayor
Leodegario Alayon Labao Jr, a fugitive wanted for the murder of Abel Martinez, Vice Mayor of  Mambusao, Capiz last year has been elected as the Mayor of the said municipality. The final, official result from the Commission on Elections in Capiz showed Leodegario “Jun” Labao Jr., garnering 12,117 votes to his rival Sharon Grace Martinez Martelino’s 7,109, a daughter of the murdered town official.

Until his election, Mayor-elect Jun Labao, tagged as the brain of the assassination of Martinez, is still being hunted by the police authorities in connection with the murder of the slain official. More than a month before the election, Labao was confined at Iloilo St. Paul's Hospital for high blood pressure but managed to elude police who went there to serve the warrant for his arrest. Police believed he has gone into hiding after Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular issued the arrest warrant. Labao, however, cannot be proclaimed because of a pending petition to disqualify him for alleged involvement in the murder of Martinez, according to Rutchell Calixterio, Mambusao municipal election officer.

The petition for disqualification was filed against Labao on May 8 at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) central office by Ludovico Martelino, the husband of Labao’s opponent, Sharon. Ludovico urged the Comelec to hold in abeyance the proclamation of Labao “considering that the evidence of his guilt is strong.” Police authorities said Labao was considered “dangerous” because he had 8 licensed firearms, including four M-16 and two M-14 rifles, and two handguns. The gun permits have been revoked by the police after the murder case was filed against him. “We have tracker teams composed of intelligence units locating him but we are appealing to him through the media to surrender and face the charge,” the official told the Inquirer. A fugitive candidate won as Mayor? Only in the Philippines! So what now?

Stranglehold of Political Dynasties in the Country 
The just-concluded May mid-term national elections were dominated by familiar names of political dynasties and celebrities.
However, despite the passionate exertions of several socio-political groups to raise the level of public disapproval of political dynasties, the results of the election provided strong indications that political clans will continue to dominate the political landscape, from the national and local elections in the country.

Here in the Philippines, such dynastic political families existed as far back as the Spanish colonial times in the late 1800s, and on to the American occupation, to the Commonwealth government years in the 1930s, the Japanese occupation in the 1940s, to the post-World II War years of independence until this day.

Even though political dynasty is prohibited under the 1987 Constitution, there are over 250 dynastic families that have monopolized political power all over the country. The Philippine Congress has long been controlled by members of political clans and the current President Aquino III belong to a dynastic family in Tarlac, a similar case of other former Presidents.  

Marcos Political Dynasty
 More than 2 decades after a public revolt ousted her dictator President husband, Imelda Marcos was re-elected as Representative of the Second District of Ilocos Norte. Almost 84 years old, she is nearing the final chapter of a tumultuous political life in which she once astounded the world by amassing a mammoth shoe collection as first lady of the impoverished country. Never showing any remorse for her past, she has against all odds succeeded in orchestrating the rebirth of a political dynasty tainted by allegations of corruption and abuse during her husband's rule.

Her daughter, Imee Marcos won as Governor of the Ilocos Norte while her son, Ferdinand Jr. is an incumbent Senator of the country.

Fariñas Political Family of Ilocos Norte
Rodolfo “Rudy” C. Fariñas, a widower who was married to former beauty queen, Miss Teen Philippines Maria Theresa Carlson was re-elected Representative the 1st District of Ilocos Norte unopposed.  He held the same position from 1998 to 2001 and was also Governor for 9 years, from 1988 until 1998. At the young age of 27, he was elected Laoag City Mayor for 2 terms, from 1980 to 1986.

 Roger C. Fariñas, elder brother of Rudy, was elected Laoag City Mayor for 3  terms, from 1995 to 2004. In the last election, as an independent candidate, he lost the City Mayoralty race to the wife of his nephew, Michael Fariñas.

Michael Fariñas, son of Federico Fariñas and nephew of Roger and Rudy was elected as City Mayor of Laoag City for 3 terms, from 2004 to 2013. In the last 2013 election, he ran and won as Vice Mayor of Laoag City while his wife Chevylle Fariñas won as City Mayor. She was formerly  Laoag City ABC President from 2010-2013.

Ironically, Carlos Fariñas, son of Rudy Fariñas ran and lost against his cousin, Laoag City Mayor Michael Fariñas who won as  Vice Mayor of Laoag City.

 Ria Fariñas, daughter of Rudy Fariñas won as Provincial board member of the first district of Ilocos Norte.  Rodolfo Fariñas Jr., son of Rudy Fariñas is the incumbent SK Federated President of Ilocos Norte while another son, Rudy Ceasar  Fariñas is a former SK Federated President and  incumbent Barangay Chairman of Barit, Laoag City.

Ampatuan Clan of Maguindanao
It was a fearsome national issue when leaders of the Ampatuan family and their gunmen were accused of an ambush-massacre killing 58 people, including 32 journalists, in the southern province of Maguindanao more than three years ago in a plan to stop a rival's challenge to become governor.

In the last Mid-term election, there were at least 23 members of the Ampatuan family who ran for different posts in the province of Maguindanao and secured big wins in the local elections. The wives of 3 senior clan members who are on trial for the murders were re-elected Municipality Mayors in Maguindanao. At least 16 other members of the Ampatuan family were elected or re-elected as town mayors, vice mayors and councilors in the province, according to the Commission on Elections website.

The election results were satirical in the sense that it can and dash the hope of the victims’ families and sow fears in them with the impression that justice may never be  obliged on the perpetrators of the massacre.       

Other Political Dynasties
Aguilar Villar  of Las Piñas, NCR
Cynthia Aguilar Villar, won as Philippine Senator
Mark Aguilar Villar, son of former Senator Manny Villar and Senator-elect Cynthia Villar, won as Representative of the Lone District, of Las Piñas NCR
Vergel Aguilar, brother of Senator-elect Cynthia Villar was re-elected as City Mayor of Las Pinas.

Angara Political Clan of Aurora Province
The Angaras have dominated Aurora since post World War II when Sonny Angara’s grandfather, Juan C. Angara, became mayor of Baler, Aurora in 1945.
Juan Edgardo Angara, son of former Edgardo Angara and nephew of Bellaflor Angara- Castillo,  won as Senator of the Philippines.   

Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, sister of and aunt of Senator-elect Juan Edgardo Angara was re-elected as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora. She was also a former 3-term Governor of the province.  

 Arthur Angara, brother of former Sen. Edgardo Angara and Bellaflor Angara-Castillo lost the governorship of Aurora to former Vice Governor Gerardo Noveras. He was the outgoing Mayor of Baler for 3 terms and an uncle of Senator-elect and 3-termer Rep.  Juan Edgardo Angara.  
Rommel Rico Angara, nephew of former Sen. Edgardo Angara and Rep.-elect Bellaflor Angara-Castillo Won as Vice-Governor of Aurora. Rommel is a cousin of Senator-elect Juan Edgardo Angara.

It will take many pages to write about the numerous political clans in the Philippines that include the Arroyos, of Pampanga, Belmontes of Quezon City, Binays of Makati,  Cayetanos of Taguig,  Cojuangcos of Tarlac,  Defensors and Garins of Iloilo,  Dutertes of Davao,  Dys of Isabela,  Ecleos of Dinagat Islands,  Ejercitos of San Juan and Laguna,  Escuderos of Sorsogon,  Espinas of Biliran,  Singsons, Marcoses and Fariñases of Ilocos, Ortegas of La Union,  Fuas of Siquijor, Osmeñas, Ramas and  Garcias of Cebu,  Gordons of Olongapo and Zambales  Hagedorns of Palawan,  Jalosjoses and Lobregats of Zamboanga,  and a rising political clan, Mangudadatu in Maguindanao. And the 2-arms long list goes on and on.  

For a lot of reasons, the 2013 mid-term election is exceptionally weird and that can only happen in the Philippines. Prototyped by a PhilippineTourism ads, “Its more fun in the Philippines”, it is indeed real that the “Political election is more weird in the Philippines”.

June 4, 2013

Fresno, California USA

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