Old dynasties unshaken, new power clans rise in South
(Last of a series)
DAVAO CITY—The May 9 elections saw the rise and fall of the fortunes of political clans in various provinces of Mindanao.
At least six families have been in power for at least 15 years while five are emerging to be dynasties by successfully handing over the mantle of influence to a family member or expanding its political base to as many localities.
As Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte hands over the city’s seat to younger brother Sebastian, the Duterte family shall have clocked three decades of being in power. Their father, outgoing President Duterte, held the post in 1988, and a Duterte has held it since, except from 1998 to 2001.
The dynasty’s latest prized possession: the vice presidency of Sara.
In Lanao del Norte, fresh clan blood is infused into the Dimaporo dynasty, which began to hold power also in 1992. Sittie Aminah, daughter of outgoing Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo and reelected Gov. Imelda Dimaporo, is taking over the seat of her father in the province’s second district. Older brother Mohammad Khalid, won reelection as representative in the first district.
In Lanao del Sur, the Alonto-Adiong clan has deepened their hold on local power since taking over it in 2007. Patriarch Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. is set to be reelected governor along with son Mujam as vice governor. Younger brother, outgoing Rep. Ansaruddin Adiong, is leading the race for mayor of Ditsaan-Ramain town, an Alonto bailiwick.
Another brother, Zia, currently a member of the interim Bangsamoro parliament, leads the race for a House seat while a cousin, Yasser Balindong, is set to take the other House seat in the province.From Camiguin to Sulu
In Camiguin, the Romualdo family, which controlled the province since 1998, further consolidated power in the island province as current patriarch, Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, the incumbent governor, won its lone seat in the House of Representatives.
His son, Xavier Jesus, the current congressman, won as governor. Another son, Yñigo Jesus, was reelected mayor of the capital town of Mambajao while Jurdin’s brother, Rodin, was reelected vice governor.
In Sulu, the Tan family continues its grip on power since 2007 with the reelection of unopposed members: patriarch Abdusakur Tan as governor, son Abdusakur II as vice governor, another son Samier as representative of the first district.
Abdusakur’s nephews are also unopposed in Jolo’s mayoral and vice mayoral races, and still another nephew leads the race for municipal council seats. Abdusakur’s daughter, in tandem with his nephew, was also unopposed in Maimbung town while another nephew was expected to top the race for municipal council seats.
The biggest winner among the local dynasties is the family of former Sultan Kudarat governor Pakung Mangudadatu which controlled power there since 1998. He and a grandson were unopposed for mayor and vice mayor, respectively, of their bailiwick, Lutayan town. Another grandson won as governor, a son-in-law as vice governor and a granddaughter as representative of the first district.
Daughter-in-law Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu won reelection as governor of nearby Maguindanao province. Bai Mariam’s kin also continue to control Datu Abdullah Sangki town.
In Zamboanga del Sur, the family of reelected Gov. Victor Yu expanded its political base. His wife, Divina Grace, was reelected to a House seat in the first district while their daughter, Victoria, won in the second district.
The Yu family’s political fortune began with Victor winning a House seat in 2007. The Yus’ rise to power prevented the resurrection of the Cerilles dynasty, which they helped to bring down in 2019 after lording it over the province since 2001.
In Misamis Occidental, the Oaminal family is entrenched into power with the election of outgoing Rep. Henry Oaminal as governor, passing on his House seat to son Sancho Fernando, the incumbent mayor of Ozamiz City. Another son, Henry Jr., takes over the mayoralty seat from his brother. Another family member is said to be first nominee of party list Asenso Pinoy, which garnered over 220,000 votes.
The Oaminal political juggernaut managed to have all his allies in the province win, and brought down the Tan dynasty which ruled Tangub City for over 40 years.
While Sen. Manny Pacquiao lost his presidential bid, his family has kept their emerging political empire afloat. Brother Rogelio, who took over Manny’s congressional seat in 2016, won as governor of Sarangani while Rogelio’s wife, Lorelie, won as mayor of General Santos City. Manny’s nephew Zyrex is reelected mayor of Maasim town.
In Basilan, the Hataman-Salliman clan consolidated their power after Rep. Mujiv Hataman was reelected into office while wife, Sitti Djalia, won reelection as mayor of Isabela City where a nephew is the winning vice mayor.
Hataman’s older brother Hadjiman is reelected to a third term as governor while another brother, Gulam, is reelected vice mayor of Sumisip where a nephew was also reelected mayor and another as councilor. Two more kin won a seat in the municipal council. Three more clan members are expected to win seats in the provincial board.
In Tawi-Tawi, the clan of reelected Gov. Yshmael Sali maintained its hold on local power. Also reelected was eldest son Al-Syed as vice governor while nephew Dimszar bagged the province’s seat in the House of Representatives. Sali’s wife, Rhodesia, was reelected mayor of Sapa-sapa town while his elder brother Abduhasan was reelected mayor of Languyan town.
Ecleos are back
In Dinagat Islands, the Ecleo clan recaptured a provincial post with Benglen Ecleo reclaiming his seat as vice governor of the province. Other clan members kept their posts: Rep. Alan Ecleo of the lone congressional district, San Jose Mayor Hero Ecleo and Basilisa Mayor Ozzy Reuben Ecleo.
Three other Ecleos take seats in the council of San Jose town, two in Cagdianao, and one in the provincial board. An Ecleo has been governor of Dinagat since its creation in 2007, punctuated only by the 2019 victory of former Rep. Arlene Bag-ao, who lost her reelection on May 9 to Vice Gov. Nilo Demerey, an Ecleo ally.
In Zamboanga del Norte, the Jalosjos clan captured a major prize as Dapitan City Mayor Rosalina Jalosjos, sister of convicted child rapist Romeo, defeated former Dipolog City Mayor Evelyn Tang-Uy in the gubernatorial race.
Romeo’s son, Seth Frederick, also defeated outgoing Gov. Roberto Uy for mayor of Dapitan, a Jalosjos bailiwick; sister Cecilia was reelected mayor of Piñan; and her daughter won a provincial board seat in the first district. Reelectionist Rep. Romeo Jalosjos Jr. lost in the vote count but his closest rival, Robert Uy Jr., was not yet proclaimed pending some legal issues.
Another Jalosjos son lost to Dipolog City reelectionist Mayor Darel Uy. In the province’s third district, a nephew was unable to capture the mayoral seat of Tampilisan town while Romeo’s brother Cesar was defeated by Adrian Amatong, an Uy ally, in the race for congressman. Even then, the clan’s May 9 performance was a marked improvement from its rout in 2010 when they attempted to capture 13 major seats in four neighboring provinces and won only two.
In Surigao del Norte, the Matugas clan was weakened by the defeat of reelectionist Gov. Francisco Matugas, his brother Ernesto and nephew Ernesto Jr. for vice mayor and mayor of Surigao City.
But other clan members kept their posts: Francisco’s sister Elizabeth as mayor of Dapa town, nephew Gerry Aejo as Dapa vice mayor, and another nephew Marlon Matugas as councilor. Another nephew, Alfredo Coro II, won as mayor of Del Carmen. Matugas’ wife, Sol, won as mayor of General Luna while son Francisco II got a third term as representative of the first district.
The Matugas clan controlled the province and its capital, Surigao City, since 2010.
The Zubiri family failed to hand over power in Bukidnon to another member as outgoing 3rd District Rep. Manuel Zubiri lost to outgoing 4th District Rep. Rogelio Roque in the gubernatorial race. Outgoing Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri, however, took his son’s House seat. —reports from Allen Estabillo, Divina Suson, Erwin Mascariñas, Jigger Jerusalem, Julie Alipala, Neptalie Batolenio, Leah Agonoy, Ryan Rosauro
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