The appointed framers of the 1987 Constitution disliked political dynasties, but left it to Congress to pass the needed law to proscribe the proliferation of these species.
That was a case of passing the buck to politicians who, left to themselves, will never act on the matter.
If memory serves me right, then senator, later appointive vice-president, Teofisto Guingona Sr. authored a bill defining and limiting dynastic politics. The House never acted on it.
Perhaps in frustration, Guingona founded his own dynasty. He had his Junior running for the HoR in Bukidnon, and thereafter succeeding him in the Senate from 2010 till 2016.
His wife, Ruth de Lara was continuously elected by her townmates in Gingoog, now a city, and when her term limit was up, daughter Marie succeeded her. That dynasty has ended though.
Now let us look at how dynasties have perpetuated themselves all over the benighted land:
In the national capital region, the Malapitans, father and son, have successfully carved a dynasty.
In neighboring Malabon, the Oreta dynasty has been replaced by the Sandovals and Lacson-Noels.
In Valenzuela, the undisputed political rulers have been the Gatchalians: Sen. Sherwin, Rep. Rex, now appointed to the DSWD, and newly-elected mayor, Wesley.
Down south, Las Pinas has always been under the capture of the Aguilars, who married a Villar, and spawned a dynasty in the city, in the HoR, and the Senate, where now reside mother and son. In Paranaque, the Bernabes have been replaced by the Olivarezes.
In wealthy Makati, since EDSA Uno, it’s been Binay after Binay, sometimes Binay against Binay. In now wealthy Taguig, it’s Cayetano, with the mayor and two senators, after the Tinga dynasty was effectively trounced.
In QC, the Belmontes have reigned after a three-term hiatus of their ally, later enemy, Herbert Bautista, who tried founding a dynasty that did not take off.
Other long-time dynasts did not fare long — Crisologo, Castelo-Daza, Defensor, but Alfred Vargas’ younger brother Patrick succeeded the actor-politico.
In neighboring Marikina, the Teodoros and Quimbos have sidelined the accomplished Bayani Fernando and wife Marides.
In Mandaluyong, the Abalos reign holds, in partnership with the Gonzaleses.
And in Pasay, the Calixtos have definitively put the long-time Cuneta dynasty in the freezer.
Of course, one will note how the Estradas have been trounced by the Zamoras led by the brilliant Ronaldo and now his son Francis, long-time allies of the former president who became mayor of Manila for two terms before being trounced by upstart Isko Moreno.
The Lacunas have finally gained the dream of long-time vice mayor Danny, with daughter Honey now the first female mayor of the city.
The Lopez dynasty has been upended by the Moreno-Lacuna partnership, so with the Atienzas and Bagatsings.
In Ilocos Norte, with President Marcos Jr’s victory in 2022, expect the Farinases to have a hard time getting back Laoag and the district, what with a senator, governor, congressman, and city mayor all Marcoses.
And the Singsons have won all major posts in Ilocos Sur.
Likewise the Ortegas in LU, while in vote-rich Pangasinan, the Guicos of Binalonan have trounced the Espino dynasty, as shifting alliances have kept the congressional districts firmly in the Arenas, de Venecia, Celeste and Primicias-Agabas dynasties.
Expect those alliances to shift once again come 2025, when former long time representatives like DAR Sec. Conrad M. Estrella III enters the gubernatorial fray.
In CAR, the Bulut family of Apayao have been in power for three decades, and still going strong.
Whoever has more goons and gold in Abra will see-saw with each other in power. Dalog and Chungalao in Mountain Province and Ifugao are still in office, while in Kalinga, a changing of the old guard likewise occurred in 2022.
In Benguet, meanwhile, the powerful party-list congressman in the last administration, Eric Yap, defeated long-standing politicians to become its representative, while in Baguio City, Benjie Magalong has again defeated the once durable Morik Domogan.
In the Cagayan Valley, it’s still the same families lording it over, except in faraway Batanes, where the Abads have hibernated, while their allies, Cayco and Gato, are in power.
But in Cagayan, Gov. Mamba has strengthened his position, although out there, it’s really a sharing of power among the Mambas, the Vargases, the Laras and Nolascos, each dividing the huge province into fiefdoms where the crusty near centenarian JPE once lorded over.
In Isabela, the alliance between the Dys, now in their third generation, and the Albanos headed by Gov. Rodito is still going strong, while in Nueva Vizcaya, the voters have divided their bets between Caloy Padilla and Luisa Cuaresma.
But in neighboring Quirino, the Cua family have held on for the last three decades.
Nueva Ecija in Region 3, once controlled by the Joson family for two generations, is now divided into the forces of Gov. Oyie Umali of Santa Rosa and the Vergaras of Cabanatuan, while the Violagos continue to maintain power in the Ilocano-speaking north.
In Tarlac, the Yaps maintain their control, with the political heir of Charlie Cojuangco keeping the first district, both dynasties flying the NPC flag of the late kingpin, Danding.
And in Pampanga, the modus vivendi of the Pinedas with former Pres. GMA continues to hold the wealthy province in their sway, just as in Zambales, GMA’s public works secretary and PNP chief Hermogenes Ebdane shares power with the Khonghuns.
Bataan is solo turf of the Garcia family, with the Romans, formerly a competitor, now an ally.
Bulacan is likewise divided into fiefdoms, with the Robeses of San Jose, the Villaricas, Silverios, and once overlord Alvarado of the first district trounced by former movie actor Daniel Fernando in the last elections.
But in Aurora, it’s still Angara.
The most populous region, Calabarzon, is one where you would think dynasties will have by now lost their traditional control.
Yet Rizal is Ynares country, with ally Duavits keeping their lakeshore district.
And Cavite is Remulla territory, with the Revillas and Tolentinos, once their rivals, now allied with Governor Johnvic.
Laguna is also divided territory, with the populous first and second districts including its cities controlled by different families, from Gov. Ramil Hernandez, to the Alontes of Binan, Dan Fernandez and Mayor Arcillas of Sta. Rosa.
The third district is now an Amante fiefdom, ruling from San Pablo City, while in the second district, a new dynasty is born, with Benjie Agarao’s daughter succeeding him.
In Batangas, Ralph Recto, former senator and now deputy speaker, is the undisputed political kingpin, with the Laurels retiring from politics and Gov. Mandanas without an heir.
The heirs of political strongman Eming Alcala, Proceso and Kulit have been trounced, with the heirs of his brother, former Gov. Anacleto, still holding on to Lucena City.
The Envergas continue to hold the first district, while Helen Tan of the fourth has defeated the Suarez clan, now to start her own dynasty, with Jay-jay Suarez left holding the second district.
In Marinduque, it’s the new overlords, the Velazcos, with the long-time Reyes dynasty now turning off politics, while in Romblon, it’s still Madrona.
Palawan is now Pepito Alvarez’ kingdom, with the son of longtime Gov. Socrates his ally, and the Mitras and Reyeses minimized.
Long-time Occidental Mindoro governor and congresswoman Josephine Sato, who wrought finis to the Villarosa dynasty, has now been replaced by a Tarriela.
Meanwhile in Oriental Mindoro, hounded by floods and now an oil spill, and perpetually suffering from power brownouts, the Leachons and the Valencias are out, while younger Panaligan and Dolor have taken over.
In Region 5, there is a division of power among the Lagmans and Gonzaleses, each content with their share, while Joey Salceda is unscathed by rivalries of long-time dynasts, flitting from governor to congressman.
And the Escuderos, with Chiz as senator and Dette in the House, continue the legacy of their much-admired dad, Salvador.
Masbate is now completely Kho, and Camarines Sur is completely Villafuerte, with only the Fuentebellas left in their Partido district.
Former VP Leni will likely run for Naga City representative in 2025, with her husband’s ally, Gabriel Bordado, giving way after two terms.
So there, we have enumerated the leading political dynasties of Luzon, the largest island with 57 percent of the nation’s voting population.
How then can the Constitutional mandate to Congress to limit dynasties ever pass through ordinary legislation?
The Senate itself is a stronghold of dynasties: Villar, mother and son; the Estrada-Ejercito siblings; the Cayetanos of Taguig; presidential sister Imee; a Tolentino and a Revilla both of Cavite; Nancy Binay of the Makati dynasty; Sonny Angara having succeeded his father; Lito Lapid of Pampanga, Probinsyano and now Quiapo, all of them led by its president, a Zubiri of the two-generation Bukidnon dynasty.
Only a competitive party system through the return of two parties, assuming we maintain a presidential form, can provide the internal party competition that would curtail the perpetuation of these family dynasties.
In the next column, let us look at the dynasties of Visayas and Mindanao.