Rise of alternative leaders in 2019 polls offer hope for Philippines
MANILA, Philippines — Even with the concentration of political power in the country, the dean of the Ateneo School of Government on Friday said there is hope in the country’s economic standing and the emergence of alternative leaders in the 2019 midterm elections.
Dean Ronald Mendoza said their study of political dynasties bared that political power concentrated in the country has been increasing.
He defined “fat political dynasties” as those which have two or more family members occupying a government seat simultaneously, while “thin political dynasties” are those who follow each other.
Mendoza also cited their study that found 70 percent of governors in 2007 were “dynastic” or belong to a political dynasty, and it increased to 81 percent by 2016. Likewise, he noted that in 2007, 75 percent of congressmen were dynastic, too, and this grew to 78 percent by 2016.
“From 2004 to 2016 fat dynasties are actually gaining ground from 49 percent to 59 percent making an anti-dynasty law virtually impossible,” he said during his speech at the “Pilipinas Conference 2018” organized by the Stratbase Albert del Rosario (ADR) Institute held in Makati City.
Mendoza said the presence of family members filing certificate of candidacies for next year’s elections was “an indicator again of the continued pattern to concentrate political power in this country.”
Rise of alternative leaders
But Mendoza said there is hope with the rise of alternative leaders.
He flashed photos of opposition senatorial candidates Samira Gutoc and Chel Diokno during his presentation.
“There are good signs. There are alternative leaders emerging and taking up the cudgels…,” Mendoza said.
The Ateneo Dean also said alternative leaders could be a potential force to counter populist agenda but “it would be an uphill battle and a challenge for all of us to support these alternative leaders.”
Economy gaining momentum
“Our economic institutions seem to be improving but our political institutions seem to be lagging very, very much behind and could be our weakness moving forward,” according to Mendoza.
The political expert also said the Philippines’ economy was “performing well despite the political noise.”
He also said many citizens are learning more about the Constitution, and participating in discussions of political party reform and political dynasty.
Francisco Magno, trustee and program convenor for governance of Stratbase ADR Institute, also stressed there is a need to “assist and engage voters” to elevate the level of public discourse in the coming elections.
But Institute for Political and Electoral Reform Executive Director Ramon Casiple cautioned the public to instead watch out for the 2022 elections.
“We have historical elections, and this is not one of them. I don’t expect any life-changing changes after the 2019 elections. The 2022 election is the one that we should watch out for,” he said, noting the possible revision of the nation’s Charter.
While Casiple expressed confidence that political dynasties “are not permanent,” he said it would continue to exist as long as the country fails to strengthen its political institutions and the political party system. /kga
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