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Philippine politics: In the name of the family

Posted at 01/13/16 5:29 PM

The Philippines’ 15th president, Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, son of democracy icons Cory and Ninoy Aquino, had barely warmed his seat in Malacanang in 2010 when all eyes started keeping a close watch at the vice president, former Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay and Aquino’s defeated running-mate, Senator Manuel Araneta Roxas, grandson of the 5th president, Manuel Roxas.

It was widely expected that both had a moist eye for the presidency in the 2016 elections.

Binay confirmed plans of seeking the presidency as early as September 2011. What followed were countless accusations he is using his office to campaign for the presidency, as well as Senate investigations on alleged corruption from his time as Makati City mayor that eroded his once stratospheric electoral, trust and performance ratings. That didn’t stop him from formalizing his bid last June 2015.

Roxas, on the other hand, kept coy and declared his presidential bid after securing Aquino’s endorsement just last July 2015. That’s after Aquino first made him transportation secretary, and eventually, interior and local government secretary.

Roxas’ time in the two agencies was marked by big issues such as problems with the Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport being dubbed the world’s worst airport, the government’s much criticized response to super typhoon Yolanda, and in early 2015, the Mamasapano incident which horrified the nation with the grisly deaths of 44 police commandos.

Roxas premised his campaign as a continuation of Aquino’s Daang Matuwid program, which has been criticized for its Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), allegations of non-inclusive economic growth, as well as selective justice and accountability.

The 2016 election was widely considered to be a rematch between Binay and Roxas until the emergence of three other names in 2015 that threw the race wide open.

Grace Poe, the adopted foundling of Philippine entertainment royalty Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, became a favorite after winning as senator in the 2013 elections.

Coming in from a low-key performance as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board in the first half of the Aquino administration, Poe, who returned to the country following the death of her father in 2004, gained recognition for her work as a senator in championing the Freedom of Information bill as well as investigating the government’s performance in the delivery of basic services in transportation like the MRT and her handling of the investigation into the Mamasapano incident.

After rejecting offers to be Roxas’ vice president, Poe declared his presidential bid in September 2015, with Francis Escudero as running mate. Poe vows to continue her father’s dreams and aspirations for the country and has campaigned on a platform of inclusive growth and politics, shying away from any form of political vendetta.

Shortly before the Commission on Elections started to accept certificates of candidacy, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, the runner-up in the 1992 presidential elections, declared she would again run for the presidency. Known for her witty one-liners and outbursts marked by colorful language as well as her brilliance as a lawyer and tough anti-corruption stand, Santiago over the years had become a fixture in the Senate through its ups and downs, staying there despite being elected as a judge to the International Court of Justice and despite being afflicted with lung cancer. Santiago said she had licked cancer when she declared her presidential bid.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had attracted and titillated public interested because it was under his watch that Davao City, reportedly the world’s largest city by land area, became progressive, peaceful and disciplined.

The disciplinarian, tough-talking mayor gained more popularity over social media as netizens backed his policy of swift, decisive action to problems, zero-corruption image and the strict discipline he imposed on his constituents tempered with kindness to the less fortunate in life.

For the longest time, he told the public he would not run for president, missing the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy in October, only to change his mind two weeks before the list of candidates could be finalized. In declaring his presidential bid, the pro-federalism Duterte slammed the candidacy of Poe, whose qualifications he doubted over questions of residency and natural-born citizenship.

Overall, 130 people filed for the presidency. Yet for all the attention on the presidential race, that is not the only position up for grabs in 2016.

In 2016, over 54 million voters will also be choosing a vice president, for which 19 filed candidacies, as well as 12 senators, for which 172 filed candidacies.

In addition, voters will also choose a district congressman, a party-list congressman, and officials in their cities and municipalities.

A total of 18,069 positions are up for grabs, the bulk of which are local positions, which are the closest to voters since these are at the grassroots.


In a September 21, 2015 interview with ABS-CBN, University of the Philippines political scientist Prospero de Vera noted that local officials that deliver votes for national candidate will continue to shift their alliances till the last day of the campaign depending on who they think will win the presidency.

“When incumbent officials would have maximized the support the administration can give them in terms of projects, releases of pork barrel and election ban set in…[Although] expecting significant resources from the ruling party…there’s not much to lose [if they shift allegiance]. Once they see their candidate isn’t as strong, they will jump to the strongest candidate,” De Vera said.

Yet, unlike other countries, Philippine politics, both at the local and national level, is dominated not by political parties but by political families or dynasties.

Both UP political scientist Temario Rivera and De La Salle University political scientist Julio Teehankee told ABS-CBN there are at least 180 active political families in the country.

“Well, sa huling research ko, yung personal research ko at yung ginawa ng Center for People Empowerment in Governance, lumalabas may active, at the very least, 180 political families. Ngayon siguro dapat nilinaw natin – ano ba yung depenisyon natin ng political families? Yung ginamit namin batayan, meron political family na matatawag kung at least dalawa na miyembro ng isang pamilya up to the third degree of consanguinity ay nagkaroon ng elective position sa national or local for a minimum of nine years. Kumbaga yon ang batayan natin,” said Rivera.

For Teehankee, those 180 families, which is less than one percent of the 102 million Philippine population, control the entire national and political infrastructure.

“On the average, sa bawat probinsiya, may mga 81 tayong provinces ngayon, may average na mga kung gawin natin eksakto, a little over two families pero less than three political families per province yan. Ngayon, yung mga political families na meron both local and national members; national, ibig sabihin nito yung Kongreso, yung Senado, president and vice president, mga… at least 35% of 180 will be considered political families na may local as well as national members. So roughly mga, ilan yon 30, 1/3, a little over 1/3 of 180… mga 55 sabihin mo na,” said Rivera.

Teehankee said that out of the 80 provinces, around 72-75 provinces have active political families or political clans that have established political dynasties.

He said that in the House of Representatives, there are 160 political families that have held two or more positions in the Philippine legislature.

“In total, they account for almost 407 of the 2,400-plus legislators that held positions since 1907. So that’s entirely a fifth of all elected legislators. In the provincial government, around 85% as of 2013 have come from political dynasties and an equal number of around 85-plus are vice governors. In the municipal and city levels, around 60-70 outside and inside Metro Manila are members of political dynasties,” he said.


Rivera writes that of the fourteen provinces with the highest number of political families, six provinces are in Luzon, four in the Visayas, and four in Mindanao.

Seven of these provinces belong to the top 30 percent of Human Development Index (HDI) performers (Pangasinan, Tarlac, Batangas, Cebu, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Davao del Sur), four to those with mid-level HDI rankings (Nueva Ecija, Camarines Sur, Leyte, and Surigao del Norte), and three (Quezon, Surigao del Sur, and Davao Oriental) to the lowest 30 percent on HDI rankings in 2006. The list includes the country’s three most populated provinces, Cebu, Negros Occidental and Pangasinan, each with six congressional seats.

From 1987 to 2010, Rivera said that the 14 provinces with the highest number of political families are Pangasinan, Leyte, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Tarlac, Quezon, Iloilo, Surigao del Sur, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Batangas, Camarines Sur, Nueva Ecija, and Surigao del Norte.

For the same period, the political families control both the offices of the governor and congressional representative, which Rivera said ensures easier access to national resources while at the same time facilitating control on the ground.

When these two positions are not controlled by the same family, intense factional struggles oftentimes ensue. It is not surprising therefore that political families aim to control these two pivotal positions.

Rivera writes that on the whole, provinces with better income, health and education indicators (HDI) show a higher number of political families. Thus, the top 20 provinces in HDI performance in 2006 had an average of 2.8 political families while the lowest 20 provinces had 2.0 families per province.

On the flip side, according to Teehankee, the poorest provinces in the Philippines also have some of the highest concentrations of political dynasties like Lanao del Sur, Eastern Samar, Apayao, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Sarangani, North Cotabato, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Western Samar as of 2015.

“Based on the recent study conducted by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center, the provinces, the large number of political dynasties tends to score lower in human development index. And in addition, dynasties are pervasive in the 10 poorest provinces characterized by high poverty incidence, bad business environment, bad governance and even violence. So the 10 poorest provinces have the highest concentration of political dynasties. These are Lanao del Norte, Eastern Samar, Apayao, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar and even Western Samar.”

Rivera said: “Gaya ng sinabi ko, hindi mo mape-predict ang poverty outcome by simply relying on political families kaya nga hindi ganoon ka-simple in other words…Kailangan isama natin hindi natin binabalewala yung background ng isang lider, kung political family or hindi pero yung pagsusuri namin parang sinasabi niya, hindi sapat na tignan lang natin kung galing ka sa political family or hindi.”


It’s not uncommon in Philippine political history to be dominated by only a few recurring surnames.

The experts count the successful political families in the Philippines, in terms of producing presidents.

For Rivera, there are the Roxases, the Magsaysays and the Marcoses. Yet it’s only the Aquinos and Macapagals who both have produced more than one president each: Cory and Noynoy Aquino, and Diosdado and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Rivera noted that the family of former senator and now presidential aspirant Mar Roxas is trying to duplicate this feat.

“Natural, the Roxas family, hanggang ngayon buhay na buhay kasi si Manuel Roxas… yung lolo ni Mar Roxas ang siyang unang naging presidente after the war and then sinundan ng anak, si Senator Gerry Roxas and then ngayon, tumatakbong presidente, dating senador, dating secretary, si Mar Roxas. Si [President] Quirino, hindi gaanong nag-prosper. Magsaysay, buhay din; nagkaroon ng senador, nagkaroon ng mga members ng Kongreso and other local government officials.”

“And then, well, of course, Marcos, very powerful family hanggang ngayon lalo na kung i-combine mo pa ito yung marriage ties – yung Romualdez-Marcos family, definitely hanggang ngayon napaka-powerful na kombinasyon ng pamilya. Well, the Aquino and Cojuangco again, patuloy yan hanggang ngayon. Macapagal, although interestingly, yung father ni President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo galing sa isang mahirap na pamilya pero nung naging presidente na din siya, ayon nag-umpisa na din ang bagong dinastiya hangga’t eto nga nagkaroon ng anak si former President GMA. Nagkaroon ng ibang relatives sa local government, yung mga anak ni GMA mismo. So isang malaking point of reference natin para… matunton natin kung sino yung mga powerful political families, unang-una yung mga naging presidente.”


At the local level, Teehankee pointed out several enduring political families.

One of the longest reigning political families or political dynasties in the country is the Ortega clan of La Union.

“They have been in power for almost, for more than 100 years. And, of course, you have the traditional political families that have governed several provinces – the Singsons in Ilocos, the Remullas in Cavite, the Escuderos in Sorsogon, the Fuentabellas also in Bicol, and so many other traditional political dynasties,” he said.

The Ortegas trace their political lineage all the way to the early American colonial era when the clan patriarch, Partido Federal member Joaquin Ortega, was first appointed as La Union’s governor in 1901.

For 2016, the Ortegas will be facing off with each other in La Union. Last October 12, the clan trooped to Comelec offices to file their certificates of candidacy (COC).

For the 1st congressional district of La Union, incumbent San Fernando City Mayor Pablo Ortega will run against his brother, senior board member Francisco “Kit” Ortega Jr, and his nephew, board member Emmanuel Victor “Mannix” Ortega.

Mannix is the son of La Union Gov. Manuel Ortega who is retiring from politics after his last term.

Mayor Pablo, younger brother of La Union Gov. Manuel Ortega, is the father of Mannix while incumbent La Union representative Victor Ortega (brother of Pablo, Manuel and Francisco, Jr.) is serving his last term in the House and is planning to run for mayor of San Fernando City.

For the provincial governor’s seat, Mario Ortega (another brother) is running against nephew Francisco Emmanuel “Pacoy” Ortega III, a son of Governor Ortega. Mario serves as the governor’s executive secretary and former president of the Provincial Federation of the Association of Barangay Councils.

Ortega III is ending his last term in the House of Representatives as Abono party-list nominee. He was endorsed by all the 19 incumbent municipal mayors of La Union province to be their candidate for 2016.

Mannix told ABS-CBN his clan’s hold on the province was practically uninterrupted for more than a century. Everywhere one goes in La Union, one can see the Ortegas’ names and influence on their life, economy, and infrastructure.

“More than 100 years but there was also a time that about 6-9 years that Ortega wasn’t seated so, but after that since gusto nga ng mga tao na the Ortegas so it started again. My father is the governor. My brother is the Abono party-list and I’m the ABC president of the province. My older brother, si Pacoy, yung Abono party-list. He will run for governor and me naman, I’m running for congressman first district. And my younger brother is also running for vice mayor,” he said.

For now, he’s not backing a presidential candidate even if he is well aware of the perks.

“Well, kung may dadalhin siyang presidential candidate and if that president, you know, wins then it’s good for the province kasi that’s extra budget for the province, so more progress for the province,” said Mannix.

He said his family is proof that a local dynasty can thrive even without an alliance with Malacanang. His father has not been an ally of the post-EDSA presidents.

Mannix attributed it to his father’s stand on peace and order.

“It’s low eh. Tapos every year, mas bumababa pa nga eh even the drugs. Pero hindi mo talaga ma-zero percent kasi mostly you know what, mostly yung mga nahuhuli or mga gumagawa ng crime in La Union are not from here. I mean yeah not from here, they’re all mga dayo. When he started, when he ran for mayor, it was during that time that puros ano dito eh parang Western style, like in different towns of La Union; Western style tapos… when you say Western style, nakasukbit lang yung mga baril nila tapos mga goons ganon. (This was) 30 or 40 years ago. And then yun na nga, that’s what he did. He fixed that first when he sat down,” he said.

Some residents of barangay Ortega, which used to be property of the family, agreed.

Carlito Gañola said he is “very, very satisfied” with the Ortegas because they render public service without being asked.

“Kasi nga, hindi kami humihingi, nandiyan na yan. Parang bibigyan na talaga. Kusang darating na yan, parang hulog na lang ng langit, hindi mo na susungkutin pa para malaglag, hindi na. Ganun ang serbisyo nila dito sa amin. Yon ang kabutihan sa kanila kasi marami nga silang magkakapatid na nakaupo. Kunwari, kung pupuntahan kang isa sa kanila at wala yon, meron kang pupuntahan na isa na tutulong sa iyo.

But with the Ortegas facing off against each other, they know they will have to make tough choices.

“Kung ano yung sasabihin ni Congressman Ortega, si Sir Victor yon ang susundin naming. Parang siya ang pinaka-head nila at saka talagang nakikinig naman kami sa kaniya kung anong sasabihin niya,” said Carlito.


From a castle high on a hill, away from all the misery, Governor Glenda Ecleo has had more than enough time to contemplate the conditions in her province where three out of every four people are poor.

Dinagat has a poverty incidence of 72.79% as of 2010, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Caraga.

According to the 2008 Community-Based Monitoring system (CBMS) survey initiated by Governor Ecleo, Dinagat Island had a total population of 96,779 in 21,274 households. At least six in every 10 households were income poor: 68.1% of households were living below the poverty line, or a total of 14,485 households in the province.

In some places, there is no running water but a communal source of water.

In one hospital, some beds have no cushion even if the hospital looks new. Many beds are empty.

There are 3 district hospitals in Dinagat Island – all of them are infirmary level which means they can only handle minor cases. Doctors only come two weeks per month and more difficult medical cases have to be sent elsewhere.

A long-time congressman, the governor’s family has been in public office for nearly 50 years. As many as 10 Ecleos hold elective positions in Dinagat islands today.

“Maraming nagawa ang mga Ecleo dito. Pinakamalaking contribution ng Ecleo, ni mommy, is creating Dinagat island to a province,” Vice Governor Benglen Ecleo said.

Between 1989 to 2014, the Ecleos have been elected to various positions that allowed them to control an estimated 1-billion pesos in public funds.

It’s money that could have gone to infrastructure, healthcare, education and job creation in the seven towns of Dinagat islands and nearby areas.


In the Visayas, the Duranos hold sway over the fifth district of Cebu province, one of the most vote-rich provinces in the Philippines.

Joseph Felix “Ace” Durano, representative of Cebu’s 5th district, is not running although he is just on his first term. The Durano family has held the post for 31 years.

Ace’s brother, former congressman Red Durano, will run for congressman while his father will run for re-election as mayor of Danao City. His younger brother, Mix, will run for vice mayor.

Their Bakud party is going full force for the re-election of Governor Hilario “Junjun” Davide III and Vice Governor Agnes Almendras Magpale, both Liberal Party candidates.

The Duranos are related to the Almendras family. The political clan and their Bakud party have been allies with the Liberal Party since 2013, helping the administration secure its place in the vote-rich province of Cebu. The 5th district has more than 300,000 voters. All city mayors in the district, except in Liloan, are members of the local party.

Ace, however, admitted that fewer members of the family are going into politics.

“You know, every election kumokonti talaga yung pumapasok sa pulitika. Like, for example, this election, normally, yung father ko plus two or three of his brothers will run for reelection pero ngayon wala. Only my father [is] running for reelection as mayor. And then yung sa generation namin, my older brother kasi, I’m not running for reelection, so my older brother and my younger brother and then yung mga pinsan ko in the past that would run also in the re-elections, wala na rin. Hindi na rin tumakbo,” he said.

Ace regularly meets with his constituents on a weekend to hand out assistance which could be financial, medical or whatever else their constituents need. Every weekend, the constituents are welcomed to their ancestral house in Danao City.

“It’s the personal relationship that we try to have with our constituents like the one…the people that we serve. These are people kung may problema sila, kailangan available [kami] – so yung personal type of public service, yon ang expectation ng mga botante dito sa amin, congressman, mayor, and yon ang practice na namin dito eh.”


These scions of dynasties all see nothing wrong with political families.

Durano said he is neutral on the subject of political dynasties because it is not an issue in the area where he serves.

“Hindi naman masama na kasi galing ako ng isang pamilya na nandito sa pulitika for years, hindi naman masama yung tingin ng tao sa akin, right. But it is a national issue, right. And para sa akin it’s a national issue kasi the Constitution demands, you prohibit it,” he said.

“I agree with the principle of it na it’s true, all types of monopoly is not good, right, whether it is in economics or in politics. I believe in democracy. In a democracy, you empower people. That is why a monopoly is not good for that. I agree with that principle. Yun lang sa akin – is it the reason ba bakit meron tayong mga pamilya na nandiyan for a very long time? Is that the cause of it, you know? Ano ba ang dahilan bakit nandiyan sila, is it by force right? Is it by any other kind of illegal machinations ng political system natin?”

Jade Ecleo has a different take on the subject. “I think kasalanan din naman ng mga tao in every province. Kasi tulad ng sa amin, hindi naman kami nanunutok ng baril para iboto kami. But they have freedom to put some candidates against my mother, brother, nephews, at sa akin but why they not do that? It’s the people’s choice pa rin.”

Mannix Ortega said not all political dynasties are bad.

“Para sa akin, it’s a democratic country. You know, there’s a good dynasty. There’s also a bad dynasty. Meron ring nakakabuti sa province. Meron ding hindi nakakabuti pero sa La Union, nakikita niyo naman nakakabuti naman.”


De La Salle University political scientist Julio Teehankee, however, disagreed, saying a political dynasty cannot be compared to, say, a family of doctors.

“Of course, there are instances in which there will always be families that would be active in politics like in other profession. But the difference between politics and the other profession is that politics involves public power and public power is a public trust. And if public power is limited to a handful of families, then it will affect the other aspects of society like the economy and society so we cannot say that a family of doctors is the same as the family of a politician because the family of doctors earned their living through the practice of their profession.”

“Pwede natin ihambing ang dynasty sa ating puso, sa ating blood circulation. Pag ang puso ay maganda ang takbo… kung sa puso maganda ang daloy ng dugo, maganda ang ating kalusugan pero kung ito ay naiipit, ibig sabihin the pathway towards political power is clogged by a few families, it is like cholesterol. Para itong kolesterol na nagblo-block sa daloy ng dugo ng puso. So if you have more dynasties instead of a free flow of political candidates, then you have an unhealthy political system.”

Rivera added: “Nakagawian natin kasing attitude ay basta political family, automatic masama ‘no. Lumalabas kung ang, kung susuriin natin yung impact ng political families sa social-economic outcomes in concretely poverty rates, poverty incidence, yung human development indicators; yung HDI na tinatawag, ito ay kombinasyon ng tatlong panunukat ng development – may income factor, meron education factor, may health factor – so yon ang ginamit namin na batayan para masukat kung ano nga ba ang epekto ng mga political families. Lumalabas, sa huli naming pagsusuri na hindi ganun ka-simple na porke may political family ka sa isang lugar ay necessarily masama ang resulta in terms of these socio-economic outcomes.”

There is a pending bill Congress seeking to regulate dynasties. The Constitution clearly prohibits dynasties, but Congress has so far failed to pass an enabling law. So, while President Aquino’s endorsement of an anti-dynasty law in his last State of the Nation Address may have received some applause, with nearly 70 percent of congressmen themselves belonging to political dynasties, regulation seems nothing more than rhetoric.

UP political scientist Temario Rivera said a real anti-political dynasty bill cannot be supported by majority of the members of Congress “because it will go against their interest at the moment.”

Teehankee added: “Of course, yan ang irony. You cannot expect a ‘house of clans’, you cannot expect a ‘house of dynasties’ to pass an anti-dynasty law. Yes…pero it’s improbable but not impossible because even in this Congress, we have seen that even members of political dynasties are open to some form of compromise. So yung at least two of them papayagang tumakbo tapos the rest hindi na pwede. We have to consider, in fact, in the future, instead of cutting up legislative districts, let us have a larger constituency, a larger district so that political, local political dynasties will compete among themselves. Right? So what’s happening right now is we are gerrymandering. We are accommodating local politicos. Kanya-kanya silang kaharian. Hatiin natin ang Cavite para hindi na tayo mag-away-away. In the future, kung magkakaroon tayo ng constitutional reform, isa sa pwede natin tignan ay imbes na maliit na distrito, lawakan mo yung distrito para yung mga local political dynasties mag-uubusan sila doon.”

The experts offered an explanation as to why dynasties continue to thrive.

Rivera said one reason is because alternative political institutions such as political parties are weak.

“Dahil mahina yung political party, umiikot talaga yung bulto ng political power and dynamics sa political family or more accurately yung koalisyon ng political families who normally come together kung may eleksyon. Alam naman natin hanggang ngayon, hindi ganung ka-well institutionalized ang political party kaya whether we like it or not, yung koalisyon ng mga political families na ito ang matimbang sa pag-ikot ng politika sa atin,” he said.

Teehankee said the existence of political dynasties is “a symptom of the weak political system in the country.”

“It is a function of what we call political recruitment. If we have a functioning system of political recruitment via political parties, then most of the public servants that we elect at the local and national level will have to go through a rigorous process of training and selection. But since we do not have any strong party systems, we have weak political parties, then the basis for choosing our local and national candidates are not based on platforms and issues or even competence but rather through personalistic ties and that includes voting for family members and identifying with political clans. So that is exactly the reason why we have more dynasties than actual political parties. I have always said that it is clans, not parties, that are the building blocks of Philippine politics,” he said.

For 2016, Teehankee said there is still nothing definite about the alliances of these political dynasties in relation to the presidential elections.

“Of course, most of the local dynasties have aligned either with the Liberal Party or United Nationalist Alliance because of the 2013 mid-term local elections. But now, there is a lot of re-alignment going on because of the changing political landscape heading towards the 2016 elections. They are expected to switch parties because historically, local political dynasties tend to switch to, based on their political calculations, they tend to switch or jump to the leading presidential contenders. So what I see right now is that most of the political dynasties in the run of 2016 presidential election will jump to either Grace Poe or Rody Duterte.”

Durano explained what he gains from it. Durano already served in the Arroyo Cabinet as tourism secretary.

“You contribute lang your two cents. You know, worth of ideas, yung experience mo, para sa iyo, kung ano yung mga kailangan na programa, yung mga kailangan na policy changes para ma-improve talaga yung economic development natin.”

Durano, however, downplayed the command votes they can deliver for their president.

“You know, yung mga political organizations, meron naman talagang epekto yon, but more and more, every presidential election, I see na yung mga botante mismo, meron sariling choice talaga, right? So for me, majority really meron sariling choice. Yung understanding kasi, yung command votes, there was a time in our history na yung information hindi pa masyadong democratized eh. As they say, information is power so at that time, yung mga botante mismo kasi scarce yung information, they cannot decide on their own so kailangan sila ng what we can say, a medium or the facilitation para you know, they’ll understand kung ano ang mga issues na ito, sino yung mga kandidato. But today you see them everywhere, on TV, or radio, print or social media. So you know, yung mga botante, they’re in a position…that they can really decide,” he said.

Rivera agreed with this assessment.

“To some extent, nasagot ko na kasi kung national ang labanan, sabi ko nga, malaki ang role diyan ng mass media ngayon. Yung kapasidad ng isang kandidato na magbigay ng sariling mensahe directly to the voters through mass media. Increasingly lumalaki yang factor na yan pero kailangan mo pa rin ang poltical families sa local level dahil nga yung organizing and delivering the votes, you need them.”

Still, the fact remains that in many places where dynasties prevail, voters will go with who their patrons back.