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Opinion

Dynamics in political dynasties

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

If there is any testimonial on what has been happening to some of the very well established political dynasties in our country, one of them is that of former Senator Jinggoy Estrada. The son of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Jinggoy is making a comeback bid at the Senate in the coming May 9 elections. Aside from him, his half-brother, former Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito is also trying anew to get another crack at the Senate. The two Estrada sons are also running again at the same time for the 12-man Senate race.

Speaking in today’s Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual news forum, Sen. Estrada strongly believes that the renewed calls to pass the enabling law to ban political dynasty will never see the light of day in Congress. “First of all, we still have to have enabling law (that must emanate) in the House (of Representatives). I don’t think that the measure will pass (because) most of the congressmen, after the end of the term, their children, wife, niece, cousin (takes over). So I don’t think that the anti-dynasty law will pass in the House,” Estrada pointed out.

The two Estrada siblings first run at the same time during the mid-term elections in May 2019. But both of them lost in the 12-man Senate race. The former President-Mayor along with his two sons and scions of other entrenched political dynasties in the Philippines were the biggest losers in that fateful election three years ago. The Estrada patriarch who was running for his third and last term as Mayor of Manila likewise lost the mayoral race to his former Vice Mayor, Isko Moreno. It was far worse for Sen. Estrada whose daughter, former Vice Mayor Janella lost to Francis Zamora in the mayoral race right in their family bailiwick in San Juan City.

If he succeeds to win the Senate race again, Estrada vows to continue the work he started as chairman for 12 years of the Senate committee on labor. He authored and sponsored landmark laws to protect the welfare of workers, especially minimum wage-earners and the millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) spread across the world.

Another senatorial candidate veteran journalist Rey Langit who joined us in our Kapihan sa Manila Bay via Zoom vowed to work hard on improving the services of the internet connectivity in the country. Actively involved in public service radio program for distressed OFWs, Langit underscored the need to modernize our country’s internet connectivity to enable our so-called “modern heroes” get access to cheap and reliable facility to link them up with their families back home in the Philippines.

Highlighting the significance of his advocacy for acquisition of satellite-based telecommunication technology, Langit deplored poor internet connection he had with us that garbled his conversations with us via zoom webinar.

Sen. Estrada and Langit belong to the UniTeam that carries the tandem of ex-Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively. Except for Marcos, President Duterte has endorsed only his daughter’s VP bid and 17 senatorial candidates under a coalition led by the seven-man ticket of the pro-administration bloc of the fractious Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

The ten other Senate bets who got presidential endorsements came from the Lakas-CMD and Mayor Sara’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) coalition with the Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP); the National Unity Party (NUP); and, the Nacionalista Party (NP) of real estate magnate and ex-Senate president Manny Villar who was included in this year’s Forbes’ List of Billionaires in the Philippines.

Langit proudly cited being included in what he termed as “lucky 7” Senate bets from the PDP-Laban which has President Duterte as their nominal chieftain. Among those strongly endorsed by President Duterte are four of his former Cabinet members who included Villar’s son, erstwhile Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar. But in the latest pre-election mock polls done by the Pulse Asia survey from March 17 to 21, only the two Estrada siblings, Villar, and six other senatorial bets who got presidential endorsements got the “Magic 12” most probable win slots.

With exactly one month to go before election day on May 9, Estrada believes the country may be having again a “majority President” if the results of this latest pre-election survey are sustained. In the same Pulse Asia survey, Marcos and Mayor Sara kept their top leads over their respective rivals, both at 56% of voters’ preference if elections were held today. President Duterte, Estrada noted, had 33% in the last survey before election day in May 2016.

But it was ex-president Estrada who posted the bigger “majority” votes at 39% in the May 1998 presidential race. His six-year term was cut short though during the EDSA-2 power grab. Incidentally, ex-president Estrada is turning 85 years old on April 19.

Should both the two Estrada siblings make it, they will have the brothers-team at the Senate. Estrada first had the mother-and-son team with his mother, ex- Senator, former First Lady Dra. Loi in the previous Congress.

The Villar’s will first establish the mother-son and sister team in Congress, with their matriarch Sen. Cynthia, and younger sister Camille as re-electionist Las Piñas City Congresswoman.

Also in the “win” circle, ex-Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano will reprise the brother-sister team in his Senate comeback bid with his “Ate Pia” who is now on her second and last term at the Senate. Alan’s wife Lani is also making a comeback bid as Mayor after her stint as Taguig-Pateros Congresswoman. She will replace incumbent Mayor, her brother-in-law Lino Cayetano who takes a respite from politics.

There are also the other brother teams such as those by re-electionist Senator Sherwin Gatchalian – also in the “win circle” in surveys – has brothers Rex and Wesley who have switched places to run as Mayor and Congressman in their bailiwick city of Valenzuela.

From national to local levels, this has been the dynamics of political dynasties in the Philippines.

JINGGOY ESTRADA

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