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Molmisa INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT Liberalism, the principle of the Philipine democracy, is an ideology committed to the individual and a society in which individuals can pursue and realize their interests. To its right is conservatism while socialism is in its left. Conservatism is a political attitude with a strong desire to conserve and resist change. It is manifested in the Philippines by the traditional politics of guns, goons and gold or “elite democracy”1. And this oligarchic rule roots from Political Dynasties, which is defined as the concentration, consolidation or perpetuation of public office and political power by persons related to one another.2 Using other intellectual works of other scholars, the author will try to analyze the nature of the Philippine elite consolidated by families and clans. Wrapping up, this essay aims to add to the academic discourse of elite democracy prevailing in the Philippines. Entitled the Philippine clandestine clan drive, the study will be composed of four main sections discussing the (1) history of the issue, (2) effects of the issue, (3) efforts to address the issue and (4) recommendations and lessons from the issue. The statements contained in the paper will be highly informative and intend to suppose that the inefficient governance of elite can also be blamed from the electorate who selected their leaders. Marx’s class antagonism will also be implied through the course of the paper: the political elite exploits the resources supposed to be for the masses. However, the deprived majority in the Philippines seem to have not learned in their past experiences, and continue on voting inept leaders.
Teehanke, Julio. Primer on liberalism. (Manila: National Institute for Policy Studies, 2005) PDF file. 2 Casiño , Teddy A., et al. House Bill No.3314, The Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2010. (Quezon City: House of Representatives, 2010).
However. Exploitative usurious loans given to the middle income landowning farmers in need. found it easy to claim as ‘private property’ land earlier cultivated by their barangays. and later on.”1 Farmers only pay tribute to their datu and render service to the upper classes. through their want of political power through reforms.”2 Through different means.”3 Despite their fruitless efforts against the Spanish government. the ruling class of the pre-Spanish period became known as the Pricipalia or the principal citizens of the community. and were only allowed to be cabeza de barangays or gobernadorcillos. Their offspring could be identified into two mestizo kinds: the Spanish and the Chinese ones. their ideas inspired the masses who were much more aware of the grave abuse in the society. Endowed with the liberal thoughts of those times. and with overpriced interests. It will be manifested by the Propaganda Movement of the illustrados. especially Europe. grew upon this class. the concept of land-ownership was introduced and would later be exploited by different forces. legal or not. especially of those of Jose Rizal. When the Spaniards came. . intermarriages and education. they eventually gave up their lands to pay their debts. and a large majority of landless tao. “These principalia. Such powers include the progenies of these datus. and these scenarios aggravated the social inequality and debased the social order into a purely landlord-tenant relationship. Religious orders also grabbed vast lands. by collaborating with the colonizers. but not the land itself. these datu descendants were given less power in the government. or simply Katipunan. the principalia acquired lands and even built haciendas. With their wealth they were able to let their children attain tertiary and post-tertiary education locally and abroad. Kataas-taasang kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan. political resistance. the First Philippine Republic. Here. encountering the new land tenure concept. is a radical social movement founded by the masses upon the ilustrado’s writings. The principalia now bereft of their previous control. “The ilustrados took advantage of the economic opportunity for them to study and to translate their knowledge into access to political power. “the products of the land. nurtured resentments to the current leadership.4 The elites’ economic and intellectual resources soon enabled them to get to the leadership pinnacle of the Katipunan. under the pretext that it was land granted to them by the Spanish monarchy. their spokesmen.HISTORY/ORIGIN OF THE ISSUE The Philippine elite originated from the quasi-feudal society of two classes: the small minority of landholding datus. could be owned and sold.
with patronage and spoils.When the Philippine-American war was still raging. and over the years members of each clan have been elected to at least one important position. And Timberman observed it mainly involves “the (a) primary of kinship. 116 lieutenants and 2640 soldiers. there’s also a continuing trend of party switching or political turncoatism. 46 captains. the elites now garnered political power: In the Philippine Assembly.A and even obtained these lands.5 With the use of their wealth. On the epoch of American regime. Seeking the help of their American padrinos and their connections. They were able to convince the young Republican government to surrender. U. A unique political culture developed which later on brought forth pervasive corruption. U. this class facilitated another betrayal and went over to the American side. not . bound by different ties. nontraditional representatives to be elected. and the (e) effect of pervasive poverty on values and behavior.S. at home. are assumed to be the main form political organization instead of political parties. of which a working coalition of a larger group. the new colonial authorities supported the Pricipalia dominance in the country. they’ve also impeded the total selling of friar estates to the landless peasantry by the new colonial force. the emphasis on (d) smooth interpersonal relations. wasting the efforts of 14 generals. To maintain the powers they are holding. It was later strengthened through an electoral system of property and literacy qualifications. the (c) importance of reciprocity and patron-client relations.6 Ever since then.S. Politics then became a battlefield of different factions of elite personalities vying for elected positions. then. they make the Congress resist laws that would have enabled non-family. was politically dependent on the Filipino elite on implementing their interests in the country. his network protected his local turf and served as trusted lieutenants… Outside the Assembly. the socializing continued… This formation of a “national elite” out of the gathered local power-holders was another step in the realization of “the Philippines” as it is today. a politician gained power over the distribution of resources. After building a representative system of government. the country was infused with so much politics. actual or fictive8. the (b) influence of particularism and personalism. True agrarian reform was never enforced to lessen the widening social gap. but a kinship network. Political clans. These families constituted a political caste.”7 Elite families continue to dominate Philippine politics up until today. 6 chief guerillas.9 In this scenario. 20 majors. 28 colonels. And such families don’t only mean household or kinship.
competing to get positions in the government. honesty. this “rent-seeking” attitude of the political elites enriched themselves not only with power but also with more connections. were employed to gain seats in government offices. Politics as addition takes place via Mergers or manipulative Alliances of different clans with those who either in great power (such as the President). local warlords will compromise (such as guarantees of votes from their units) with the national elites to seek rents. for holding public offices mean holding licenses and resources for monopolies of the markets. Marriage. This is commonly done to protect their interests from rival families and other competing forces. different avenues of influence.12 Through the years. And this constituted the so-called elite democracy in the Philippines. Machine. the accumulation of wealth and influence and the diversification of economic interests. generosity or credibility. Especially exercised during elections in provinces. many resort to political violence. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalisms sums these up into 7 Ms. namely: Money. or could grant them with great power themselves (well-off sponsors in elections). used in costly elections. This phenomenon. as their bind10. Simply put. called “warlordism” merely helps these families gain a more secure tenure over local elected offices. passed down to generations. these families have created their own “de facto autonomy” using political violence with their paramilitary units. in massive amounts. some of them would purchase instruments of coercion such as private armies. to ensure their success in the elections. Also.13 Through these trends. yet ruled only by the selected elite. wherein citizens have equal political rights (through voting).policies or programs. Murder and Mayhem. And to sustain and ensure political survival. alliances and marriages to other political families. Murder and Mayhem marks political kingpins rise to governance. such as media. potency. Myth and Mergers.11 As analyzed by McCoy. Also. In local levels. Money. . Local networks of campaigners or political Machines are set up by the candidates to ensure victory. popular Media and/or Movie personalities have been either hired to endorse or become politicians themselves. many politicians transform electoral offices into lasting family assets or family dynasties. Media and/or Movies. Lasting Myths of heroism. humble origins. are used to heighten electoral appeal. can easily be compensated by the profits of government positions.
Nearly $2 billion dollars. The two worst Philippine presidents15. elite politicians serve the interests of themselves and their families. and poverty severity are consistently higher in districts with dynastic legislators compared to other areas. Corruption has penetrated every level of government. or roughly 13 percent of the Philippines' annual budget. a member of the landowning Cojuangcos. They could have access with the best quality of education. Another study of PCIJ showed how congressmen who came from different big industries tend to legislate for themselves. Philippine politics should have been progressive. a paper made by the Asian Institute of Management found out that “measures for poverty incidence. legislated in the time of President Corazon Aquino. Marcos and Arroyo.20 Furthermore. jurisdictions with dynastic legislators tend to have poverty incidence of five percentage points. locally and abroad.21 This table22 from the same study represents their statistical findings of . and be filled with great ideas as to how the country be properly managed. from the Bureau of Customs down to the traffic police officers who pull over motorists to demand bribes. University of the Philippines.EFFECTS OF THE ISSUE Theoretically. according to the United Nations Development Program. Even Jean Jacques Rousseau showed preference for an elective aristocracy. economic stagnation may be related to the focus on elite representation with its parliamentary mechanisms to further its class interests. “Several members of the House of Representatives have filed out bills that could benefit their enterprises but many have avoided sanctions because of legal loopholes in the conflict-of-interest rule.16 Local corruption monitors confirm that graft and bribery in the Philippines remain rampant. were both educated in the top academic institution of the country. epitomized this grave reality. with the latter having a PhD degree in Economics. Comprehensive Agrarian Reform (CARP).18 Often. poverty gap that is one percentage point and poverty severity that is half a percentage point higher than other areas. political dynasties could have a causal effect on socio-economic outcomes through policy choices and implementation made by incumbents linking with their dynastic rule and how the implications of chosen policies on poverty and inequality reduction.17 Moreover. given the nature of elites.14 But Philippine experience proved otherwise. poverty gap. is lost to corruption in the country each year.”19 According to some analysts. Specifically. instead of social reformation and progressive developmental programs.
38 -PhP3.legislators in the 15th Congress with kinship links to at least one legislator in the 12th. With the current practice of factionalism in the government.95 -3. 14th.872. or 15th Congress. but to those in power. “the right to resist the government. with programs that respond to their interests.45 1.23 Political actors in grassroots level align themselves with political clans that could best dispense patronage and access to power. “As a result.93 1. Legal immunity emanates from the informal and cultural obligations of alliances within the party the party of power. 2007 or 2010: 2009 Per Capita Income.2 2.565 (0.86 0.0003***) Poverty Incidence 24. These movements were not directed to the government per se. thereby aggravating the circumstances. political stability has also been sacrificed for years.31 1. members of the governing class have been traditionally exempted from the rule of law.596.0174**) Poverty Severity 2. the elites.”26 Resistances came into different forms from various sectors of the society which will be discussed later on.0367**) Dynastic Non-Dynastic Mean Difference Test Statistic Besides the substandard governance that the oligarchic system elicits.”24 In addition. Political parties only concern themselves with the spoils of office while individual politicians are the ones governing.15 18.107 (0.”25 With the failure of delivering economic prosperity. 13th. Within this system. . Filipinos have exercised what John Locke’s advocated in his time. corruption pervades all levels of government and has crippled the government’s attempts to achieve fiscal stability.43 PhP26.0039***) Poverty Gap 6.275.794 (0. reducing mass alienation and the increasing social inequality. deal-making is inevitable and it produces political operators and not statesmen. “The virtual absence of a party system also means our electorate gets no meaningful policy choices.95 5.25 2. The “continuing domination of political clans was one of the most formidable obstacles that block genuine democratization from being implemented in the country”. Gap and Severity for Dynastic and NonDynastic Districts Per Capita Income Php23.606 (0.18 4. namely. or at least one local government official elected in 2001. 2004. Poverty Incidence. policy gridlock arises.
the armed struggle of CPP-NPA-NDF. Social movements also challenged the power of the State formally or informally. As Marcos’s chief ideologue remarked. . While typologies differ. Several events and innovations made significant changes. serving with utmost responsibility. Peace talks have failed and harassments. but at the same time facilitated the capture of the state by new—and more centralized—regime interests. The most radical groups rise in the pre-martial law era: the Stalinist PKP (Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas) who sought reform through legal means. were unable to address. These were due to the problems the State. killings of worker-demonstrators (Mendiola Massacre) occurred. and leading modest lives”28. debate within the CPP which led to its split and the rise of NGOs. loyalty. still governed by the elites. these studies generally agree that the exercise of power by local strongmen/women.”27 Bereft of their to right for public officers that are “accountable to the people. social movements persisted. which was a dilemma since pro-martial law administrations. and efficiency. Marcos ‘believed he could have a vision for society . Some declined yet others were strengthened and even propagated.” according to Paul Hutchcroft. acting with patriotism and justice. Because of these different factors. and Marxist-Leninist. These oppositions have varied from the most radical to self-conscious ones. . although the sphere most extensively covered is the local level.EFFORTS TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE “…the Philippines remains the classic example of a flawed attempt by a constitutional order to achieve substantive democracy. and families has been in pursuit of selfish ends.29 Even Martial Law was seen at first to be a an address to fight “oligarchy” but later on reveal its true colors. was eventually weakened. and still loot it’”. “Martial law. And a prevailing character radiates over them: none have been successful in eliminating the elites in either power or expedient actions. The concerns of such groups were not emphasized on class-based issues. but more of . bosses. the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union. “created many new opportunities for reform.30 After Martial Law. It has become the laboratory to test and confirm the variety of regimes associated with the weak post-colonial state. Studies cover all levels of Philippine politics.Maoist CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army) who seek after their goals by armed revolution. Filipinos have resorted into different proposals to remove the self-serving elites. such as: the military supremacy of AFP over NPA.
with a blatant case of daughter-father tandem serves as mayor and vice mayor respectively. This “protest fatigue” and waning popular interest in alternative politics made mass mobilization less effective. many Filipinos developed lethargic outlook on demonstrations and rallies on the streets. RECOMMENDATIONS AND LESSONS The most accepted model of democracy in the world is generally termed as liberal democracy. and less on protests and picket lines. emerging trends of information and communication technology were also taken advantage. become another avenue for the movements to further the interest of the masses. and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law. House Bill No.people empowerment. It is the equivalent of representative democracy where political equality is exercised and political office gained through regular elections36 and encapsulates the ideals of Jean Jacques . Also.35 In spite of this grand attempt. and calls for accountable and good governance. Further democratization was also pushed. via marginalized representation in Congress.32 Seeing their efforts ineffective. human rights protection. is set out to embody Section 26 of the Article 2 of the 1987 Constitution. environmental protection. they were only seen as insurrections used to achieve the political ends of competing elites. party-list organizations such as Akbayan (Citizen’s Action Party) and Sanlakas (One Strength) began to focus more on electing candidates and expanding networks. Their advocacies include helping the marginalized sectors of the community. such as the massive text messaging during the ouster of President Estrada.33 With the efforts of these pro-poor party lists. by strategies other than armed struggle. As a result.”34 The provisions of the bill prohibits the establishment of political dynasties in local government units and districts. a bill has been proposed to totally abolish the roots of the inefficient aristocrats. wherein “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities fro public service. named as the Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2010. as opposed to elite democracy. Though the Philippines already had three major postwar uprisings (EDSA. through legal or extralegal means. political dynasties. EDSA 2 and EDSA 3).3314. Electoral politics.31 Freedom of expression were commonly exercised by rallies of different advocate assemblages such as BAYAN MUNA and League of Filipino Students (LFS) and other groups commonly found in Universities and Colleges. the bill hast not been passed into law and dynasties still linger and intend to stay in the coming elections of 2013.
and not really in a Marxist way. but from the bad choices Filipinos made. politics here is so personalistic and people base their party affiliations and candidate-preference not mainly on platforms. And if one analyzes the activist groups here in the Philippines.” Trapos. the basic Lockean notion that “Laws must apply equally to rich and poor”38 does not happen in this country. wherein sovereign power of the people is inalienable. Information. but on impressions. yet their coverage also has limits (and some biases). a changed mindset should jump start the change—for the better. There would lots of actions that could be done to successfully address the prevailing elite democracy in the country.496 Municipalities. Augustine’s concept that “a bad government is a punishment for the people”40 applies. if the masses would only be informed how selling of their votes deprive them of proper social services entitled to them. this is the democracy Filipinos should live through. are kept secret within the walls of public offices. to which the masses have played well. For example. checks will rather be a great responsibility.39 St. 68% of the respondents agreed that media image is the major influence on their votes. and this leads to what McCoy used for a title in his book “an anarchy of Families. if not big enough to cause public stir. 138 Cities. this time the consequence is not directly from God. With the 79 provinces. The political culture persisting in the Philippines needs not only lead actors but also participants. 42.025 Barangays.Rosseau. but not their practice. But before anything else. Most of their aims and calls are really for the pluralist and not really a classless society. 1. a power . or traditional politicians have continued to rule the Philippines based on 3 different facts: (1) their avowed motives are fatally and unquestionably accepted (2) they aren’t made truly accountable and (3) force of people power is needed. Unfortunately.41 The media has played a great role in informing the citizens the activities of the government. even though they articulate repeatedly that their aim is communism and for communism. it is a surprising fact to know that they see democracy here in an elitist view. that we need. and 17 Regions that we have41. then maybe they would think twice before accepting the money in exchange for their ballots. Additionally. Keeping an eye on the ruling elite is the job of the civil society and majority of the Filipinos are either too busy or apathetic to thoroughly check and redress their government’s grievances. more than the capability of only changing the leaders. Local government anomalies.37 Supposed to be. as they prefer to believe. In a pulse Asia survey on the last elections. indivisible and cannot be represented by itself.
If reforms be done. Because they can not relate their lives with the statistics presented to them.held by the academe. the problem in the Philippines is that the knowledgeable people are so great that their greatness do not reach the underprivileged. the academe can and should think of creative ways to reach the majority. . they would rather not care and continue living with the rotten system. Paradoxically. Data about the synergistic correlation of our corrupt elite democracy has always been presented in ways the masses do not understand. should be disseminated to the electorate to warn them of the perils decided by their votes. Given the faculties of discerning more. which are often swayed by the populists’ appeals. it should start with the brains then circulate the body politic.
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