Warlordism and Political Dynasties

A Discussion by Prof Yusuf Morales

One of the last vestiges of Warlords 

Is the political arena It legitimizes their rule over their areas traditionally claimed in the name of rulership, royalty and lineage 

Warlordism is associated to several issues... Control of the machineries of the state that includes the security sectors (PNP and AFP) Respect for democratic rule as governance is done brazenly with impunity wherein their rule is a hallmark of lawlessness  

Traditionally warlords .... 

Commonly said to be ´sui generis´ as they interpret the ´rule of law´ in the manner of their perceptions and caprices The source of these warlords has been their lineage...whether perceived or real These sway they held was a sort of a feudal influence/grip they had over the masses  

Nowadays... the source of their power Lies in the three ´G´ Implied importance in the scheme of things in the national security apparatus (allies in the counter-insurgency campaigns) Proximity to the ´powers that be´ (remains to be seen if they will be challenged by the cantral government).   

As of the moment... 

250 political dynasties (families) who have dominated Philippine politics at the national and local level and who have monopolized political power as families for the past 30 years and more. This is 0.00001667 % of the country's 15 million families (CENPEG, 2007). 3. Each of the country's 80 provinces have political dynasties competing with each other for national and local elective positions. Dynasties have also expanded to monopolize many appointive positions.  

Politics is a family affair, so that from the national to the local level, we see long family histories of political rule. Husbands, wives, sons, daughters, and close relative occupy many public offices; during elections we likewise see them all running for public office.  


The Philippine center for Investigative journalism states that... 

2/3 of the members of the 8th to 12th Congress belong to political dynasties. We can just take a look at the Philippine Senate where we have combinations of brothers and sisters, mother and son, father and son out of only 24 members of the upper chamber. This is why if a few families control Congress, they tend to legislate in favor of their own interests to the detriment of the majority of Filipinos. Look what happened to key legislation like the land reform program


How can both administration and opposition officials stand for ³daang matuwid´ if who ignore the democratic value of "equal access to opportunities for public service" at the national and local level.?

A typical Example 

Diosdado Macapagal - Philippine President (1961-65) Cielo Macapagal - Salgado - (daughter of Diosdado ) Pampanga Vice Governor ( 1988-92; 1995-98) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo - (daughter of Diosdado) Philippine President (2001-2010), Congresswoman 2010present Mikey Arroyo (son of Gloria) -lelected PL Congressman former Rep. 2nd District, Pampanga; former vice governor, Pampanga. Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo (son of Gloria) - Rep. , 1st District, Camarines Sur; Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo (Gloria's brother in law) reelected Rep. , 5th Dist. Negros Occidental.     

Cayetanos before 2010 

two Cayetanos in Senate and another in the House. The Senate seat used to be occupied by the senior "Companero" Cayetetano ; now Alan Peter (who was Congressman 1998-2007) has joined sister Pilar "Pia" Cayetano Sebasian who has been senator since 2004 up to 2010. Alan Peter's wife, Laarni has taken over his House seat, while a brother of Alan, Renren (councilor, 2004-2007) was elected vice mayor of Muntinlupa. Laarni now is mayor of Taguig 


Luis "Chavit" Singson(Congressman, 1987-92; Ilocos Sur governor 1998-2007) lost in his 2007 bid for a Senate seat, the Singsonfamily dynasty is well entrenched in Ilocos Sur: Chavit Singson's son, Ronald is congressman, 1st district, Ilocos Sur; cousin Eric is congressman, 2nd district, Ilocos Sur; brother Jeremias is now vice governor ; niece Eva Marie Singson-Media was reelected mayor of Vigan together with Allen Singson, son of Eric, now mayor of Candon.

On the Mindanao Front 

Ampatuan family (the perpetrators of the Maguindanao Massacre) Lanao del Sur - Alonto, Lucman, Adiong, Dimaporo, Macarambon, Dimakuta Lanao del Norte - Badelles, Lluch, Cabili Sultan Kudarat - Mangudadato Cagayan de Oro City - Emano General Santos City - Antonino Zamboanga City- Lobregats      

Each Dynasty gained opportunities by: 

Local monopoly of Political power Change in administrations and power shifts Joining the shifts in National Power Acting as the local power hustler (in the case of the Ampatuans and other local dynasties in Mindanao) Coming from the landed families, some were cronies from way back during the Marcos regime up to the present. In the ARMM, many are from the prominent landed datu class, are warlords and have private armies or the backing of an armed group that help them maintain influence.    

Relationsship between national and local trapos 

National parties=alliances of local Trapos who act on the basis of political accomodation Governance becomes distorted and democratic rule is a sham as a result 


Enough research and realizations have already been done on the effects of TRAPO, warlordism and ptaronage politcs. What we lack in is the individual haggiographies of these dynasties and the effects of their specific activities as most paid biographies are sanitized although the ones who may have done the research may have access to much in depth sources.

What is to be done 

P-articipation of CSO's actively in the political arena (people power) A-dvocacy through education (popular education and DG's) C-ommunity participation and empowerment (people empowerment) T-ransformation of the electoral arena through alternative politics (politics by the people)   

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