THE recent filing of the certificates of candidacy (COC) for the May 2019 midterm elections proved once again that the country is not about to let go of political clans and their dominance in the electoral system. Calls to end the hold of political dynasties in our political system have been made for decades already but that hasn’t happened. They will still be with us in 2019.
President Duterte was actually asked about this recently after his daughter Sara Duterte-carpio filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) for mayor and her brother Sebastian or “Baste” filed his own COC for vice mayor—with her other brother, former city vice mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte also running for congressman in the city’s first district.
“Pag nasimulan mo na, tuloy-tuloy na yan,” the President said about relatives also running in elections after one of them snags a position in government. Sara herself threw the ball to the voters. There can be no political dynasties without the voters themselves choosing their members during elections.
So this has become a chicken-and-egg thing. To end the reign of political dynasties, which of these should we do first: prevent politicians from fielding relatives in elections or allow them to do so in the meantime and instead educate the voters about the negative effects of political dynasties dominating the country’s political setup?
In a way, both the President and Mayor Sara are right, after all, our political system is merely a reflection of the feudal setup that is still prevailing in large patches of the country. That setup tends to produce political lords and political dynasties ever so often. If we want to end the dominance of political dynasties in the country, then the feudal setup needs to be addressed.
Political dynasties are not the problem in more advanced economies. Their farmlands are being tilled by capitalists and not by feudal lords. Unlike here where leaders are seen as royalties whose every decision should be followed by subservient serfs.
When a politician wins an elective post, he becomes like a feudal lord or even king in a feudal setup with the voters as the subjects. That immediately raises his relatives to royalty status whose ascension is no longer measured by intellect or leadership abilities. Relation to the feudal lord or king becomes the main consideration in assessing their person.
As for the politician, he sees the post that he snagged as a throne that needs to be protected and held on to at all costs. I got this from a patriarch of a political dynasty in Cebu who urged an unprepared relative to the post he had to vacate because of term limits. He said he invested time, money and effort in snagging the post, so why would he cede it to others?
Maybe in the future when this country becomes an advanced economy everything will change already. In the meantime, let us work to limit the dominance of political dynasties in governance. Educating our voters on the matter can hopefully make a dent. If not, then we may have to, as we often hear wise guys say, grin and bear it./sunstar Cebu