Presidential children in government, 1946-2019

"If only we had another kind of political culture in this country."


With the incumbent chief executive’s offspring highly visible on the national landscape, I thought that it might be useful to review the record of presidential children involvement in government affairs since the administration of the first post-World War II chief executive of the Philippines.

The only offspring of President Manuel A. Roxas (1946-1947) to become involved in Philippine government affairs was his son Gerardo Roxas, who graduated to the Senate from the First District of President Roxas’s home province, Capiz. Two decades later, Senator Roxas’s son Mar would become a senator also.

The only son of President Elpidio Quirino (1947-1953), Tommy, served as his father’s aide-de-camp and presidential son-in-law Luis Gonzales later served as Philippine ambassador to Spain.

Neither of the two daughters of President Ramon Magsaysay (1953-1957) was interested in politics, but his son and namesake, Ramon Magsaysay Jr. later served two terms in the Senate.

The only offspring of President Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961), Linda Garcia-Campos, did not follow the footsteps of the nation’s eighth chief executive.

During her stay in Malacañang as the daughter of President Diosdado Macapagal (1962-1965), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo evinced no inclination toward politics. Neither did her brother Diosdado Jr. nor her half-siblings Arturo and Cielo. But decades later, the two presidential daughters carved out successful careers in politics for themselves—Gloria as president (2001-2010) and Cielo as vice governor of the Macapagal family’s home province Pampanga.

From the very start of the first presidential term of their father Ferdinand Marcos (1966-1969), Ferdinand Jr. and his older sister Imee gave indications of being interested in politics and in holding public office. During the martial-law rule of her father, Imee Marcos got him to decree the establishment of a national youth organization, the Kabataang Barangay, with herself as chairman. A few years after his return from EDSA Revolution-imposed exile, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. won a seat in the Senate and was re-elected six years later. He ran for vice president in the 2016 election but lost. Having served for three terms as governor of Ilocos Norte, the Marcos’ family’s home province, Imee Marcos made a successful run for the Senate in this year’s election.

Not one of the five children of Corazon C. Aquino showed any interest in politics or public service during their mother’s presidency (1986-1992). The closest thing to public service by an Aquino offspring was Ballsy Aquino-Cruz’s service as her mother’s appointment secretary.

Like the children of President Aquino, President Ramos’s five daughters had no interest in politics or public service, notwithstanding the careers of their father, grandfather (ambassador and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Narciso Ramos) and aunt (Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani).

After his term of the presidency (1998-2001), Joseph Ejercito Estrada was followed into public service by his wife Loi and sons Jinggoy and Joseph Victor (J.V.)—who became senators—and granddaughter Janella.

While his mother, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was president (2001-2010), Mikey Arroyo launched his candidacy for the position of representative of the Second District of Pampanga. He won and went on to serve another term. President Arroyo’s only daughter Lourdes joined the Department of Foreign Affairs.  Youngest son Diosdado Ignacio ran and won a seat as Congressman of the second district of Camarines Sur from 2010 to 2016.

Benigno Aquino III, who served as Chief Executive from 2010-2016, was a bachelor and therefore had no children to join him in politics or public service.

This brings us to today’s situation.

Presidential-children-in-government is very much the case. President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter Sara succeeded him as mayor of Davao City and heads the political party that she founded for the 2019 election, Hugpong Pagbabago ng Pilipinas (HPP). President Duterte’s older son, Paolo, the former vice mayor of Davao City, has just been elected Representative of Davao City’s Second District. The other presidential son, Sebastian, also is active in the city’s politics.

In the US several decades ago, a big political commotion was created when it was shown that Maureen Davis was involving herself in the administration of her stepfather, President Ronald Reagan. If only we had that kind of political culture in this country.

Topics: Presidents , Philippines , Politics , Maureen Davis , Rodrigo Duterte , Ferdinand Marcos , Cory Aquino
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