When members of the same family run against each other
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 6, 2016 - 9:00am

Those who abhor family dynasties, and those who denounce too much concentration of political powers in the hands of the same clans, like this writer, would, as a matter of conscience, feel either angry or sad, or both, for our people. How come that in a democratic system like ours, the people are not afforded a genuine field of choice? Is it the fault of the families who consistently and perennially hold on to such powers? Or is it the fault of the rest of the town or city constituency whose citizens do not have the guts much less the courage to challenge the well-entrenched family dynasties? The political families insist that they are elected and they never ram themselves into the throats of the electorates

Indeed, it is a tragedy in our political life that only some powerful clans do have the money, the influence and the organization to mount a viable campaign. Others who do not belong to their clans have tried in the past but failed. Either, they were cheated, or their leaders were subjected to the pressures of money, terrorisms, or influence. And so, when families run out of opponents, they run against each other. Whoever wins, the powers will be retained in the same family tree. I recall during the times of our grandparents, the hacienderos pressure their children to marry their own cousins so as to protect the integrity of the family wealth. This is the same philosophy. The goal is the same: concentration of economic and political power.

I know of a town in Cebu where the incumbent uncle mayor is being challenged by his legitimate nephew. They have different family names but the mother of the challenger nephew is the older sister of the incumbent mayor. The matriarch of the family, in her late eighties, who was a mayor too before and whose late husband was likewise a mayor, is reported to be siding with the incumbent, who is her own son. But she must have a painful choice because she is campaigning against her own grandson. The brothers and sisters of the incumbent mayor are divided. There are those who are supporting him. The others are taking the sides of their sister who is the mother of the challenger. What a hard choice to make? The people are perplexed, confused and bewildered. I am in serious doubt.

What further complicates this political drama is that the incumbent vice mayor who is seeking reelection is the brother of the challenger-nephew. This vice mayor is the party mate of the uncle incumbent mayor. The question that confronts the people is this: Will the vice mayor really support his uncle who belongs to the same party as himself, or will he secretly support his own brother who belongs to the opposing political group, and who is challenging his mayoral candidate, his uncle ? The other cousins also find themselves in the crossroad of political perplexity. They do not know what to do. The others simply follow the dictum of the matriarch, perhaps out of respect and affection.

There are those who, in utter cynicism or skepticism, would advance the theory that it is nothing but a political "zarzuela," a staged drama being directed and orchestrated by one masterful political genius who is bound to benefit whichever side shall win. They believe that the people are being taken for a ride, and that at the end, it will still be the same banana, or the same ''dog with different collar." The same clan will control the power and they will immediately reconcile as blood is really thicker than water. But there are some who really think that this is a genuine conflict. In fact, the nephew has allegedly filed some Ombudsman cases against the uncle. And the cases are supposedly documented. Therefore, this is no joke at all as some pundits would surmise.

This town has a history of similar confrontations. In the late fifties and early sixties, a son runs against the father also for mayor. They belong to another clan not this feuding family today. In the past there was already a political contest between cousins, and between uncles and nephews. Well, this is a free country. Everybody has the right to run. The people must be given a choice. In other places in the Philippines, there was even a wife who ran against her own husband, brothers running against each other. Close kin and close friends. If blood is thicker than water, sometimes, politics is more compelling than blood. I do not know what will happen to this town. I hope the results will be for the better, and not for the worse. The interest of the people is what matters most.




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