‘From fat to obese: Political dynasties' expanding
Despite a provision in the 1987 Constitution prohibiting political dynasties, and in the absence of an anti-dynasty law, fat political dynasties have “expanded dramatically” over more than three decades now, said AsoG Dean Ronald Mendoza and research associates Leonardo Jaminola and Jurel Yap in their recent study entitled “From Fat to Obese: Political Dynasties after the 2019 Midterm Elections.” “Clearly, political clans have found a way around term limits, by fielding more family members in power—giving rise to more fat political dynasties. The recently concluded 2019 midterm elections demonstrate the staying power of dynastic incumbents... For these dynasties, their extended—and for their clans, expanded‚stay in office affords them more control over the domestic economy, which in turn fuels their continued expansion and staying power,” the study said. All in the family Over the past 10 elections, the percentage of fat dynasties has increased from 19 percent of all local elected officials in 1988 to 29 percent this year, growing at about 1 percent or 170 positions per election. A majority of 80 percent or four in five governors and 67.90 percent of vice-governors elected in this year’s polls belong to fat political dynasties. At the House of Representatives, 67 percent of the elected lawmakers are also members of political clans. “Governors are more likely to have relatives occupying elected positions during the same period compared to other elected officials. This makes sense as the governorship is the top post at the local level, and running a provincial-wide campaign necessitates large resources and extensive connections—advantages that often only fat dynasties tend to dominate,” the study said. At least 53 percent of mayors and 39 percent of vice mayors who won in the 2019 polls also belong to fat political dynasties. Fat dynasties, poor provinces The 15-page study said political dynasties are linked to greater poverty, especially outside Luzon. “Empirical evidence suggests that dynasties have an adverse effect on governance, and hence also development. It hints that the less developed economic, social, and political institutions in provinces away from the capital allow dynasties to retain political power without promoting desirable development outcomes.” The top 20 provinces ranked according to fat dynasty share were: Maguindanao (50.54 percent of local posts), Pampanga (49.18 percent), Bulacan (45.28 percent), Davao Occidental (40.98 percent), Isabela (40.96 percent), Sulu (40.20 percent), Lanao del Sur (39.84 percent), Nueva Ecija (39.60 percent), Pangasinan (39.17 percent), Ilocos Norte (37.30 percent), Batangas (36.49 percent), Siquijor (36.23 percent), Eastern Samar (35.92 percent), Cavite (35.74 percent), Catanduanes (35.54 percent), Basilan (35.17 percent), La Union (34.86 percent), Negros Oriental (34.55 percent), Cebu (34.33 percent) and Abra (33.10 percent). Manila Standard compared the list to the latest poverty incidence data of the Philippine Statistics Authority released in April. The two data sets showed that of the 20 provinces with the most number of elected local officials belonging to fat political dynasties, eight belong to the 20 poorest provinces, namely Lanao Del Sur (1st poorest), Basilan (2nd), Sulu (5th), Maguindanao (7th), Eastern Samar (8th), Abra (13th), Davao Occidental (16th) and Negros Oriental (19th). Reform options According to the study, the imposition of term limits has not altered the dynastic nature of politics in the country. “In fact, term limits may have, to some extent, aggravated the proliferation of dynasties by providing incentives for incumbents to use their relatives as a ‘survival strategy’ when their term comes to an end,” the study showed.