Political dynasties choking the Philippines

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Before the ASEAN was founded in 1967, the Philippines was stronger economically than Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and even South Korea and Taiwan. Today our country is much poorer than all of the founding nations of the ASEAN. Thailand and Vietnam, which used to be among the poorest then, are now better off than our country. What are the causes of our country's deteriorating economy? There are many but the most damaging is the political dynasties.

Compared to Singapore and the rest of ASEAN, we had more mineral resources, our location is strategically better positioned as the gateway to the Pacific, we used to have better quality of education and in the ‘60’s, the best universities and colleges in Asia were found in the Philippines. Our human capital was superior in education, competence, credentials, and credibility. Today, our natural resources are almost gone and the control of the national wealth has fallen into the hands of corrupt public officials and their alien masters. The quality of our education has deteriorated to a level that becomes the laughing stock among the Asian education community.

The causes of these are bad governance, mismanagement of our economy, and corruption in government. We never had a leader in the caliber of Lee Kuan Yew, Mahathir Mohamad, or Joko Widodo. For the longest time, the government has been dominated by traditional politicians who come mostly from political dynasties. The best proof of this was that among the 17 Philippine presidents, six come from only three political dynasties; the Marcoses, the Macapagals, and the Aquinos. The fourteenth president, GMA, is the daughter of the ninth president, Diosdado Macapagal. The fifteenth president, PNoy was the son of the eleventh, Corazon Aquino. The seventeenth president, BBM is the son of the tenth, FM Sr.

The sixteenth president, PRRD is poised to make his daughter, the vice president, to become the eighteenth. If that happens, heaven forbid, this nation will surely regret it again. Imagine that we have a Senate of 24 supposedly senior and more statesmanlike legislators whose wisdom and erudition are on levels that should unify and inspire the whole nation. It is regrettable that this august chamber is currently dominated by political dynasties. We have a mother and son, the multi-billionaire Villars, representing the tiny city of Las Piñas. A brother and sister, the Cayetanos, are representing the small city of Taguig.

The microscopic city of San Juan whose population is smaller than the barangay of BF Homes, Parañaque, or even smaller than the barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City, and even smaller than the town of Alcantara in the 7th District of Cebu in terms of area, is represented by two half-brothers, the Estrada/Ejercito royal family. There was a time when the wife of Erap and his son were both sitting in the same Senate. There was also a time when both Sonny and Serge Osmeña were in the same Senate. Today, the five million Cebuanos do not have a representation in the Upper House of Congress.

These family dynasties which have been dominating the government and controlling appointments and public funds should be held responsible for the sad state of the Philippine economy. They should explain to the people why this country has not progressed in the same manner that Thailand and Vietnam have managed to prosper. Vietnam was pulverized by the bombings in the war between the north and the south. And yet, today, Vietnam has a better economy than the Philippines. We even rely on the Vietnamese to produce the rice that we so badly need. We have more highly-educated business managers and businessmen, industrialists and traders, but Thailand has a better economy than ours.

The political dynasties should explain to the future generation why this country has the worst environmental conditions and take the blame for why our country's development is stunted and choked by dirty politics, and the massive corruption, which is among the worst not only in Asia but in the whole world. Political dynasties are the biggest cause why this country is going down and down and down.

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