The Cayetanos, the Binays and the Villars are but some of the rich clans that run the country. After yesterday's elections, a quarter of the Senate is controlled by only three families. Leni Robredo pledges firm opposition. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa warns that disinformation endangers other world democracies as well.
Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Politics in the Philippines remains a family affair. The victory of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the late dictator, brings the Marcos clan back to the Malacañan Palace, the presidential residence; however, some of the country’s leading families have also made a comeback in Congress and local governments.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s victory was a landslide. According to unofficial results, “Bongbong”, a nickname given to him by his father, is expected to lead his closest rival, outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo, by 30 per cent.
The latter is doing better than expected, but not enough to win the presidency, this despite the many appeals by the country’s Catholic Church, which backed Robredo.
Speaking of political dynasties, Sara Duterte, daughter of the outgoing president, won the vice presidency. This was expected given the substantial popularity her father enjoys after six years in office.
In Metro Manila, which includes 16 cities and one municipality, only one major position, that of Manila mayor, went to someone who was not a member of an established political dynasty, namely outgoing Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna
The city of Makati remained in the hands of the Binay dynasty thanks to the re-election of Mayor Abby Binay, while the Cayetanos held on to Taguig, where Lino Cayetano was replaced by his sister-in-law Lani Cayetano. In Caloocan, Oscar “Oca” Malapitan succeeded his father. The same pattern is set to be repeated across Metro Manila.
Same story in the Senate, where a quarter of the seats, six out of 24, are now held by three families. House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano will join his sister, Pia, while Mark Villar, in his first term as senator, will join his mother, Cynthia.
The Estradas are also back in Congress, after a momentary exit during the 2019 mid-term elections.
Despite pre-election polls that predicted his victory, former Vice President Jojo Binay just fell short of the 12th spot by a few votes, and so won’t be joining the upper house.
For several analysts, these results are "disturbing". Various studies note a strong correlation between dynastic politics and weakened democratic checks and balances
Power concentration in the few favours high income inequalities (a well-known fact in the Philippines) and is self-reinforcing, at the expense of democracy.
In the Philippines, the latter has been greatly weakened under President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent and authoritarian administration; human rights groups note that his “war on drugs” probably cost up to 30,000 lives.
The only hope now lies with Leni Robredo, who despite her defeat, seems poised to lead a firm and forceful opposition.
Yesterday, after thanking her voters, she spoke of the birth of a new movement, which in recent weeks turned streets and squares pink, the colour of the opposition.
“We started something that was never witnessed before in the country’s entire history: a campaign led by people,” she said. Thus, unlike Duterte, Marcos will have to deal with “pink wave”.
A few hours after the polls closed, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, journalist Maria Ressa, reacted to the election results.
She said she expects disinformation to grow in the Philippines, which painted the 20 years of the Marcos dictatorship as a “golden age”, thus helping her son. This is of extreme importance not only for the Philippines, but also for the rest of the world.
For Ressa, we only need only go back to Duterte’s election in 2016. “This is a global information ecosystem. Like in 2016, we were the first domino to fall followed by Brexit, Trump, Bolsonaro – well here you go again. Brazil has elections in October, the U.S. has elections in November. So if we fall, stay tuned, it’s coming for you,” she said.