Sun.Star Cebu

Philippine presidency: A familial affair


The Philippine­s has been ruled by four presidents who are related by blood: Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1965) and his daughter Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-2010); Corazon Aquino (1986-1992) and her only son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (2010-2016).

With former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. set to become the 17th President of the Philippine­s, the country will have a total of six chief executives who are kin. Bongbong’s father and namesake, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., had served as the 10th President from 1965 to 1986.

This may interest the reader: The elder Marcos (Nacionalis­ta) won the presidency in 1965 against the reelection­ist Diosdado Macapagal (Liberal Party) and another candidate, Raul Manglapus (Progressiv­e Party).

Thirty-six years after Macapagal’s defeat to Marcos Sr., his daughter Gloria became the president after a popular uprising dubbed the Second Edsa Revolution booted out then President Joseph Estrada from office.

The original Edsa Revolution happened in 1986—it ended the authoritar­ian rule of Marcos Sr. Democratic institutio­ns and freedom of the press returned after Corazon Cojuangco Aquino became president, governing the country until 1992.

Eighteen years after the Corazon Aquino presidency, Noynoy was elected to the highest position in the land.

Philippine democracy is still young, and it is still fragile due to political immaturity. The politics here are dominated by influentia­l clans from the Spanish and American colonial eras. This could be the reason why there are presidents who are related by blood, thus making an impression to an ordinary Filipino that the ability to govern the country is a privilege of the few, the so-called elite.

Bongbong’s running mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte. If Sara becomes president in 2028, the Philippine­s would have another set of parent-child presidents.

Here is another fact: Corazon Aquino’s successor, Fidel V. Ramos, is a second-degree cousin of Marcos Sr. Ramos, then the military chief in 1986, played a pivotal role in ousting the dictator.

The dynastic cycle at Malacañang and local level could end if the voting populace matures.

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