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Political dynasties: Here to stay?

(July 18)—The pervasiveness of political dynasties (PD) was a hot issue prior to the May 2013 elections. Now, two months after, have things changed?

Not much, according to former NCPAG professor José Tabbada Jr., as the number of elective positions held by members of PDs increased from 23 in 2010 to 43 in 2013.

A political dynasty is defined as “families in which multiple members have held elected office.”

In Tabbada’s post-election analysis, the dynasty that lost the most seats in the May elections is the Jalosjos clan, who went from holding five elective positions to just two after May. The dynasty that gained the most is Mangudadatu clan, who had just one elective position in 2010 to seven, gaining six seats.

These results were presented in a forum on July 11 at the National College of Public Administration Assembly Hall. It is a continuation of a January forum organized by the NCPAG as part of the UP System’s UP sa Halalan 2013 initiative.

Other invited speakers at the forum were Ronald Mendoza, PhD of the Asian Insitute of Management’s Policy Center, Ricardo Penson of the Philippines Krusada Kontra Dynasty, Norman Cabrera of the Kapatiran Party, Atty. Frank Navarette, who spoke on behalf of Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, and Representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo of Camarines Sur, 3rd District.

Mendoza gave a short presentation on the findings of their 2012 and 2013 studies “Inequality in democracy: Insights from an empirical analysis of political dynasties in the 15th Philippine Congress” and “Political Dynasties and Poverty: Resolving the ‘Chicken or the Egg’ Question,” respectively.

The 2012 results revealed two kinds of political dynasties: thin dynasties where one position of power is passed down through the generations, and fat dynasties, where more than one family member occupy several positions of power simultaneously.

The 2013 study revealed that while dynasties were not associated with increasing or decreasing poverty, a higher poverty incidence did increase the chance of PDs to grow and dominate.

Mendoza notes that “[t]here is weak evidence that suggests that the level of education is negatively associated with the share of political dynasties in the total positions under analysis.”

Representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo  Robredo, meanwhile spoke about her experience while campaigning against Nelly Favis Villafuerte, saying that combination of grassroots community organizing, guts and the political goodwill from her revered husband’s death enabled her to win representation of her district.—AKR