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Political Dynasty in the Province of Apayao:

Roots, Development and Prospects



The political dynasty undoubtedly plays an influential role in Philippine society. Families
of political dynasties are sitting side by side to deliberate on important legislations that
will affect the future of more than 80 million Filipinos both young and old for generations
to come. Political dynasties, exemplify a particular form of elite persistence in which a
single or few family groups monopolize political power. Political dynasties are common
in many contemporary democracies such as Philippines.
Prominent and influential people and families have controlled much of Philippine politics
since colonial times. During the Spanish era, the conquistadors gave political power to
their favored mestizos (i.e. Filipinos with Spanish blood) or the Illustrados (educated
Filipinos from wealthy families). These people in turn, wielded some authority and
influence over their respective communities, provinces and constituencies. Political
dynasties were established and continue to exist up to the present times.
In 1987, the Philippines undertook important reforms that help shed light on whether
institutional changes can curb dynastic power. Following the return to democracy after a
15-year long dictatorship by Ferdinand Marcos, the 1987 Philippine Constitution
introduced various changes aimed at decreasing the power of political dynasties. For
example, Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution included a clause stating: The State
shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political
dynasties as may be defined by law. The connection of the provision is quite obvious. It
explicitly states that the state prohibits the existence of political dynasties. But its
enforcement is not that strong. There has been a growing trend of congressmen and
senators and even other political positions filled in by spouses, and daughters and sons
of previous politicians. It does not create an equal opportunity and limits the chance of a
change.The problem is, the framers of the 1987 Philippine Constitution failed to define
the law to implement the prohibition of political dynasty. They left-out the construction of
the enabling law on how to implement the prohibition of political dynasty. It means they
entrusted the task of making the law about political dynasty in the Congress.
For over 20 years now already, the Philippine Congress has been sitting in their hands
continually ignoring to make a law accompanying the article in the Constitution to
prohibit Political dynasty in the Philippines.There are a number of political dynasties
present in our congress, and some of them, who are members of the dynasties, after
reaching the term limit in congress, runs again and eventually get positions in the

executive department. In section 115 of the Election Code of the Constitution, there is a
proposed definition of political dynasty that was included but was not approved. The
proposal prohibits persons having the same civil degree of relationship to run in any
elective position in the same political unit in the same election. It also does not allow
any persons with the same civil relationship, including legal or common-law partners, to
succee an incumbent position of the latter.



It is a common fact in the country that family members of incumbent politicians run for
public office. National and local elections are dominated by these politically empowered
families. The Philippines is a notable example of a dynastic democracy. More than half
of elected Philippine congressmen and governors have a relative who has held elected
office previously. In 40% of the 79 provinces the provincial governor and congressman
are related.
The province of Apayao for instance is ruled by the Buluts since the time it was
separated from Kalinga and become a regular province.
On Feb. 4, 1920, Apayao and Kalinga became sub-provinces of the mountain province
which was created by operation of Act. No. 2772 of commission. Included in this
province were Bontoc, Benguet and Ifugao. On June 18, 1966, Republic Act 4695 was
enacted by the Philippine Congress providing for the division of the mountain province
into four autonomous provinces. This resulted in the merging of Apayao and Kalinga
into one province known as Kalinga-Apayao for almost 30 years.This four independent
provinces are Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province (Bontoc) and Kalinga-Apayao.
On July 15, 1987, Executive Order No. 220 was issued and signed by Her Excellency
President Corazon C. Aquino, creating the Cordillera Administrative Region, hereinafter
referred to as CAR. The province of Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao of Region 2 were
included in the territorial coverage of CAR.
In 1994, Congressman Elias K. Bulut filed the bill in Congress for the possible
separation of Kalinga and Apayao. On February 14, 1995, Republic Act No. 7878 was
enacted. This Act provides for the conversion of the sub-provinces of Kalinga and
Apayao into regular provinces to be known as the province of Kalinga and the province
of Apayao. This amended Republic Act No. 4695 and paved way for the corporate
existence of the Province of Apayao as distinct and separate province.The province of
Apayao is geographically divided into two regions, namely: Upland Apayao which is

composed of Calanasan, Conner and Kabugao and Lowland Apayao which is

composed of Flora, Luna, Pudtol and Sta. Marcela.
The father, son, daugther and nephew or somebody in law of Bulut clan made a name
in Apayao Region.
Elias K. Bulut Sr. became 2010 Mayor of Calanasan,Apayao, he is also the Former
Representative of Kalinga-Apayao in 1992-1995 and Lone District of Apayao in 19951998 and 1998-2001 he also became the Governor Province of Apayao last 2001-2010,
he also became the Mayor, Municipality of Calanasan in 1972-1992.
Elias C. Bulut Jr., Son of Elias K. Bulut Sr. is the Governor Province of Apayao starting
2010 to present and became Representative Lone District of Apayao last 2001-2010.He
also became the Mayor,Municipality of Calanasan in 1998-2001 and became Vice
Mayor,Municipality of Calanasan in 1995-1998 and Councillor,Municipality of Calanasan
in 1992-1995. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, daughter of Elias K. Bulut Sr. also became
Representative Lone District of Apayao starting 2010 to present,she also became the
Mayor,Municipality of Calanasan in 2001-2010.Shirley K. Romero, Cousin of Elias K.
Bulut Sr. became the Councillor,Municipality of Calanasan and Apayao Provincial
Philippine Councillor's League President starting 2010 to present.Shamir M. Bulut, Son
of Elias K. Bulut Sr. but Half Brother of Elias C. Bulut Jr. and Eleanor Bulut-Begtang
became Councillor,Municipality of Calanasan starting 2013 to present.Randy Ruel
Begtang, Husband of Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, an Ex-Army Major, he also became the
Vice Mayor,Municipality of Conner starting 2010 to present. In this The Bulut Family
called The Machivellian Ruler of Apayao.
It has been often contended that political dynasties go against the values upheld by
democracy since it does not provide an equal opportunity for people to hold offices of
power and service. With the set-up of the political dynasty, it seems as if positions of
power are exclusively dominated by a particular clan or family. Arguably, the political
dynasty is said to monopolize the system of governance since it limits the chances of
other common Filipinos to serve the people. It creates a brain drain in the sense that the
new and capable leader who could possibly perform better than those currently in office,
would not be given an opportunity when running against someone with a name. It is
undeniable that there are candidates who are voted into office simply because of their
name and fame. Sons, siblings and even wives of politicians - people who have no
knowledge whatsoever of how to lead and serve, are voted into office simply because of
their connection to previous leaders.
However the clan made not only name but contributions or records. Such as the
protecting of the forest of Calanasan, the presence of full grown Philippine eagle has
been confirmed in the nearly 100,000 hectares of old growth forests in Calanasan town,

Apayao province, Northern Luzon, which hosts other rare tropical giants. The forest of
Calanasan is protected by its people, particularly the prominent Bulut clan. The family
taken up the cause of preserving their biodiversity it contains for future generations. The
Provincial Government of Apayao under the administration of Governor
Elias Butzy Bulut Jr. also set for the development of more eco-tourism sites in the
province, including the war-torn village of Marag Valley, which was once a battle ground
of the New Peoples Army in the 80s and 90s. The works are underway to transform the
image of Apayao province as a safe haven for adventurers and nature lovers wanting to
get rid of toxic routine of a city life and head on to the hidden paradise of Apayao where
you can recharge for fresh air, fresh environment and exotic food trip.With a significant
improvement of roads and bridges, making the seven municipalities of Apayao more
accessible to its neighboring provinces, local and foreign tourists are lured to Apayao to
explore its numerous hidden waterfalls and caves, rock formations, hot springs and one
of the Philippines largest forest reserved area which serves as a critical habitat for
exotic plants, fish and animals along the stretch of the Apayao river, rolling hills and
plains and mountain ranges.


Up to now, however, the political dynasties have not been clearly defined by law in the
Philippines. This condition allows and is being used by incumbent politicians to push
their family members to pursue political careers. And of course, seeing how these family
members observe and experience the prestige, power, and influence of being in politics,
they are more inclined to pursue the same career path. This system then leads to an
increased and increasing number of family members holding public office creating the
undefined political dynasties.
Political clans / families have been walking all over the Philippine Senate, congress,
local and national public offices. Grandparents, Father, Mother and siblings are taking
There is an almost forever grasp in power that does not really give a fair share for other
aspiring politicians, moreover, this is also detrimental given the nature of the majority of
laws passed by members of the congress. Many of which aims to protect personal
interests like preserving land ownership, and getting connections with business tycoons
that enable congressmen to get sums of money.
In that I can say the electoral votes are not so much based on the capability of one to
serve, but rather on the name carried by one who is running. It is quite obvious that the
family name of an elected official or a potential candidate plays a big role in the success
of one who falls under the category of being part of a political family. It can be identified
that power can be seen not only in exercises of excess but also in tangible things such
as a candidate's family name. This symbolic power could be seen as a perpetuation of

the power system that runs through a political dynasty since it plays a big role in a
dynasty's continued existence and evolution.