Many argue that one factor why the Philippines is underdeveloped in the dominance and perpetuation of political dynasties. The 1987 Philippine constitution, Article 2, Section 26 declares that, “The State shall guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasty as may be defined by law (Dannug and Campanilla 497).” A few politicians have tried to pass laws that would put an end to spread and persistence of political dynasties in the country. In 2004, Senate Bill 1317, an anti-dynasty bill has been filed by then Senator Alfredo Lim and by Senator Panfilo Lacson in 2007. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is the most recent to file the anti-political dynasties act in 2011, which defines political dynasty as a situation when the spouse or a relative within the second degree of consanguinity holds a political office during the same term, runs for the same position immediately after the term of office of an incumbent official, or runs simultaneously for elective public office even if neither is related to an incumbent elected official.
In the Philippines, it is apparent that there is a succession of rulers from the same prominent families and lines. Even with the introduction of the political party list system, in the 11th congress for a more proportional representation in the House of Representatives, resulted in the continuing clan dominance, landing families to accumulate economic wealth and political power through the years (PoP 1; Tehankee).
Jennifer Conroy Franco believes that the colonial rule of the Spaniards and Americans in the Philippines have laid the foundations of socioeconomics and politics for the country (61). Filipino communities were accustomed to an early form of government even during the pre-Hispanic period, and political dynasties had been in existence in the country since then. The leaders of a barangay came from the economically rich families. The strong familial bonds of the datus, rajas, and maharlikas promoted the entrenchment of the leadership and power of this ruling class (Cabigao).
During the Spanish colonial period, the government became more centralized, with the king of Spain on top of the hierarchical arrangement. The only Filipino rulers came from a group of wealthy landowners known as principalias, or the “prominent ones”. Many of the principalias were descendants of the early datus and maharlikas. They were appointed as Alcalde Mayors, Gobernadorcillos, and Kabesas de Barangay and were entrusted with fiscal and administrative obligations. The local offices held by the natives were hereditary during the first two hundred years of colonial rule, giving their family an advantage of being known by the communities (Cabigao; Franco 67).
Stephanie Cabigao states that the introduction of education and suffrage during the American period “catapulted the elites in the first local election in 1903 and the first national elections in 1907” (qtd. in Tuazon). In the 1901 municipal code, voting...