Becoming president: Relatives are just around the corner
MANILA, Philippines—Amid talk about a tandem of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and her father President Rodrigo Duterte for president and vice president in the 2022 elections, reminders of how political dynasties surround the presidency rise to the surface.
Many expressed strong opinions against the scenario of Duterte, the daughter, teaming up with Duterte, the father, for the two highest positions of the land next year.
A group of artists, lawyers, scholars, health care workers, activists and religious laypeople again joined forces and launched the “Duterte Wakasan Na” movement which seeks to “end President Duterte’s rule and his legacy of failed and detrimental policies.”
Last May, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio declared that the movement he started, 1Sambayanan, to unite opposition candidates against Duterte would not accept anyone inside Duterte’s political dynasty as a candidate for endorsement next year.
But dynasties are as old as politics in the Philippines and some become more prominent by association with the incumbent president. None, however, had gone as far as running in tandem with a son or daughter to become the second highest official of the land and possibly be the de facto ruler.
All presidents who ruled the country after the dark days of martial law have had their share of relatives in positions during their presidencies:
Corazon “Cory” Aquino
Years in power: 1986-1992
Relatives in government during incumbency: 5
- Agapito “Butz” Aquino, brother of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. (Cory’s husband). Senator from June 30, 1987 to June 30, 1992 and until 1995
- Jose “Peping” Sumulong Cojuangco Jr., brother of Cory. Tarlac respresentative frm June 30, 1987 to 1992 and until 1998
- Herminio Aquino, uncle of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Deputy executive secretary and minister of human settlements from 1986 to 1987. Tarlac representative from June 30, 1987 to 1992 and until 1998.
- Teresita “Tessie” Aquino-Oreta, sister of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Malabon representative from June 30, 1987 to 1992.
- Jesli Aquino Lapus, uncle of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Agrarian reform undersecretary under Cory from June 30, 1987 to 1989.
Fidel V. Ramos
Years in power: 1992-1998
Relatives in government during incumbency: 1
- Leticia Ramos Shahani, Ramos sister. Senator from June 30, 1987 to 1998
Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada
Years in power: 1998 to 2001
Relatives in government during incumbency: 1
- Jose Pimentel “Jinggoy” Estrada Jr., Erap’s son. Vice mayor of San Juan from June 30, 1998 to 1992. Mayor of San Juan from June 30, 1992 to 2001
Years in power: 2001 to 2010
Relatives in government during incumbency: 3
- Ignacio Arroyo, brother of former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo. Negros Occidental representative from June 30, 2004 to 2012
- Mikey Arroyo, son of Arroyo. Vice governor of Pampanga province from June 30, 2001 to 2004
- Diosdado Ignacio Jose Maria “Dato” Macapagal Arroyo, son of Arroyo. Camarines Sur representative from June 30, 2007 to 2010.
Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III
Years in power: 2010 to 2016
Relatives in government during incumbency: 2
- Jesli Aquino Lapus. Trade secretary 2010.
- Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino. Senator from June 30, 2013 to 2019.
Years in power—2016 until present
Relatives in government during incumbency: 4
- Paolo “Pulong” Zimmerman Duterte, son. Vice mayor of Davao City from June 30, 2013 to 2018. Representative of Davao City from June 30, 2019 to present. Deputy Speaker from 2019 to present.
- January Duterte, wife of Paolo Duterte. Councilor of Davao City from 2013 to 2018. Village chief of Barangay Cataluna Pequeno in Davao City from 2013 to present.
- Sara Duterte, daughter. Mayor of Davao City from June 30, 2016 to present
- Sebastian “Baste” Zimmerman Duterte, son. Vice mayor of Davao City from June 30, 2019 to present
During their terms, most of the country’s previous leaders saw an increase in their declared net worth—starting from their first year in office until they stepped down.
Among Duterte’s predecessors, Arroyo had the biggest jump in net worth.
According to copies of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Arroyo’s net worth jumped by 113.16 percent by the time she stepped down as president.
Ramos had the second highest net worth increase—34.22 percent. He was followed by Noynoy Aquino—25 percent, Estrada–7.25 percent and Cory Aquino—4.79 percent.
The figures for Duterte are not clear as the Office of the Ombudsman and Office of the President haven’t released his SALN, drawing flak for it.
In 2020, Duterte declared that he was not hiding any wealth from the public despite the non-release of his SALN.
The Office of the Ombudsman has also issued new guidelines on who can obtain copies of government officials’ SALNS, limiting this to the official himself and officers conducting investigations.
Memo Circular No. 1 issued by Ombudsman Samuel Martires, an appointee of Dutere, SALNs would be released only when:
- The official requested it
- Ordered by a court
- Allowed by the Ombudsman for a fact-finding investigation
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