One of the major issues that surround this year’s elections is the question of political dynasties, although the issue mainly involves three particular families: the Pimentels, the Cayetanos, and the Estrada/Ejercitos. All three families have members running for the Senate; unfortunately, there are already existing members of these families in the Senate. The three possible candidates are Coco Pimentel, the son of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano, the brother of Senator Pia Cayetano, and JV Ejercito, the half-brother of Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
Already, this early into the election season, their inclusion in the opposition senatorial slate has caused ripples, the one primarily being former Senator Francisco Tatad’s long letter to the opposition (found here in full on Dean Jorge Bocobo's blog) that has since been published in major newspapers. In his letter, Tatad criticizes (lambastes?) the opposition for helping perpetuate political dynasties; it is bad enough that they exist, he opines, but for the three to occupy Senate seats while their relatives are still there leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It is for this reason that Tatad has apparently left the opposition.
To be sure, there is no law against political dynasties; former Senator Loren Legarda gives this as defense for the inclusion of Pimentel, Cayetano, and Ejercito. Furthermore, former UP Law Dean Jorge Bocobo is of the opinion that a law banning political dynasties is “fundamentally democratic.” So what makes the three’s inclusion in the opposition Senate lineup questionable?
There is no legal impediment to political dynasties; however, since a number of these dynasties have perpetuated their rule over their fiefdom through the triumvirate of guns, goons and gold, I would say that there is something morally wrong about perpetuating one’s family in power. In some cases, once dynasty members have reached their term limits, they simply prop up a willing relative to warm their seat, all the while biding their time until they could run again.
Of course, not all political dynasties are inherently bad; some probably manage to maintain their power by actually serving the people under them. But I think that these are the exception rather than the rule.
The fault lies in the voting populace’s poverty and lack of political education, since a number of voters are willing to sell their votes in order to survive, not knowing, or maybe, not caring that their political leaders are screwing them over. If the voting populace was educated about their rights and their candidates, and if they were more resistant to vote-buying, we would probably have better leaders today.