Blood ain’t thicker than water: Tale of two sibling rivalries in 2019 polls
Two prominent political families — the Ejercito-Estradas and the Binays— are currently divided over family members vying for the same position in the 2019 midterm elections.
On the Ejercito-Estrada side, Senator JV Ejercito made his reelection bid for senator official when he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) on Monday.
However, his half-brother, Jinggoy Estrada, also filed his COC for senator the day after, accompanied by their father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada.
Meanwhile, the Binay siblings — Abby and Junjun — are also fighting over the Makati mayoral post. Both have announced their intention to run for the position in 2019. The younger Binay, Junjun, filed his COC on Tuesday.
The feud between members of these two prominent political families is proof that politics has become a “family business” in the country, political analyst Dr. Dennis Coronacion said, noting that this phenomenon is not new in the country.
“The infighting between members of political families, particularly the Binays and the Estradas, shows that our elections and politics are family business. And this is nothing new since we have seen this happening in other places in the country at different times,” Coronacion told INQUIRER.net.
Coronacion cited several political families whose rifts had escalated and made public during the election season such as the Villafuerte family in Camarines Sur, the Tupas family in Iloilo, and the Fontanilla family in Bacnotan, La Union.
In 2013, Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte and his grandfather, 3rd District Representative Luis Villafuerte Sr. went head-to-head for the Camarines Sur governorship.
In the 2016 elections, the Tupas family in Iloilo were divided when Iloilo Vice Governor Raul “Boboy” Tupas ran against his sister-in-law, Angelie Tupas, for the position of Iloilo’s fifth district representative.
Two brothers from the Fontanilla family— Rufino Jr. and Francisco — fought for the mayoral post in Bacnotan, La Union, in the 2016 elections after their mother resigned from the post.
When family feuds like these occur, the head of the family usually intervenes to settle the conflict, Coronacion said.
“In situations like this, the senior family member (usually, the patriarch or matriarch) intervenes to settle a brewing conflict,” he said.
However, in the case of the Binays, the patriarch, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, refused to get involved in the feud between his children and even allowed both of them to run for the local post. He said he would let the residents of Makati decide.
“Hindi ako ang magpapasya kung sino sa kanila ang karapat-dapat bilang punong-lungsod. Ang magpapasya nyan ay ang mga mamamayan ng Makati (I cannot make up my mind who is worthy of the position. The residents of Makati will decide on that),” the elder Binay said in a statement.
In the case of the Ejercito-Estradas, the rift has apparently developed not only between brothers but also between father and son.
Ejercito earlier admitted in an interview that he feels bad that his father also decided to support Jinggoy’s plan to return to the Senate. He lamented that Jinggoy has an edge for carrying the well-known family name Estrada and that his ranking in the Pulse Asia pre-election survey on senatorial preferences has dipped.
“Medyo may tampo, kung kailan ako reelectionsist, sana hindi na lang pinayagan [si Jinggoy], ‘di maganda. My chances of winning now ay talagang apektado, nahahati kami, nahahati boto, yung Estrada name wala sa akin (I feel bad that Jinggoy was also allowed to run for senator while I’m seeking reelection. It’s not good. My chances of winning now are affected. The votes will be split. And I am not even carrying the name Estrada),” Ejercito said in an interview with Radyo Singko.
Before filing his COC, Ejercito left his father’s political party, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), then took oath as a new member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). Ejercito admitted that his decision hurt his father.
Moreover, when Ejercito filed his COC, he was not accompanied by his father, but the former President escorted Jinggoy to the Comelec office when he filed his COC.
Despite this, Ejercito insisted he will not bow down to pressure and give way to his brother.
In situations like this, Coronacion said the likely scenario is that the votes will be divided and this may even allow other contenders to win the elections.
“These feuds with Binays and Estradas will definitely have an impact on the said families as it provides an opportunity for their opponents to snatch a victory in the upcoming election,” the political analyst said.
“There are two possible scenarios: first, another candidate (not a member of the family) will emerge as a winner; second, the family member who has more resources or enjoys more support will emerge as a winner,” he added.
In the 2013 elections, the younger Villafuerte defeated his grandfather in the gubernatorial race. Boboy Tupas of Iloilo also beat his sister-in-law Angeli as Iloilo 5th district representative.
Political family feuds defeat purpose of democracy
Coronacion said the rivalry between family members in seeking an elective position occurs when there is a limited number of electoral posts as there are members of political families who want to acquire power.
“This [infighting] usually occurs when a political family has dominated a political arena, whether local or national, and there is not enough number of significant elective positions as there are members of a political family aspiring for power,” Coronacion said.
He noted that family feuds over elective posts “defeat the purpose of democracy.”
“It is depressing to see that the voters’ choices are limited to members of the same families. This defeats the purpose of democracy, which allows passing on ruling to different competent members of society regardless of their economic and social backgrounds,” Coronacion said.
He added that the domination of political families hinder political development as ordinary candidates who may be competent to hold public office do not stand a chance against these prominent political clans.
“The exclusionary politics fostered by the domination of political dynasties stifle our political development. Normally, ordinary candidates do not stand a chance against resource-rich members of political dynasties,” Coronacion said. /ee/ac
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