leg res 3


A political dynasty, which is a significantly shared political trait in most countries, has persisted since the ancient times, be it in any system of government. At present, it has fostered in developing democracies, one in which a generation passes its political prowess to another like a family heirloom. The Philippines is a perfect picture of that scenario – either in a national or local scale.

The remarkable prevalence of a political dynasty – why it has thrived successfully – has motivated the researchers to seek its socioeconomic outcomes and determine the legislative attempts of putting a stop to its reign. With this, the researchers believe, that they could point out the indicative element of its success. On that note, this study aims to know what a political dynasty is by identifying several dynastic families on a national and local level, to discover the reason behind a political dynasty’s success through identifying socioeconomic implications of dynasties in the political landscape of the Philippines and to determine bills or laws that have been passed or made to stop its reign.

Dynastic families have their own political agenda; they can pass these to another relative after finishing their term or share these with another elected relative during their tenure. Identifying a handful of these families can help the researchers define what a political dynasty is.

The extended time horizons brought about by the continued holding of office have necessary socioeconomic implications and the researchers would want to bridge the cause of its continued success and the socioeconomic outcomes of political dynasties, thereby discovering such outcomes along the process.

Lastly, the reign of these dynasties have clearly been uncompromised, otherwise they would have not thrived so successfully this long. For this reason, the researchers would want to determine the attempts at legislation of abrogating this practice by political families – whether our Constitution promotes its preservation or not.


William Safire, political lexicographer, defines “dynasty” as the “recurrence of political power in generations of a single family; previously, the passing of power among a small group of political elite.”

Dynasties around the world differs. Sociologist C. Wright Mills points out that “throughout US history, well over half of the American political elite have come from families not previously connected with political affairs. They come from families highly placed in terms of money and position than political influence.”

The term “dynast” is sometimes used to refer to agnatic descendants of a realm’s monarchs, and sometimes to those who hold succession rights through cognatic royal descent. The term can therefore describe overlapping but distinct sets of people. However, there are differnces between monarchy and dynasty. According to Joseph Kostiner, monarchy is a political system based upon the undivided sovereignty or rule of a single person and the term applies to states in which supreme authority is vested in the monarch, an individual ruler who functions as the head of state and who achieves his or her position through heredity. Dynasty, on the otherhand, Cambridge English Dictionary defined such a series of rulers or leaders who are all from the same family, or a period when a country is ruled by them.

Political dynasty was defined by Simbulan (2007) as a succession of people from the same family who plays a role in politics. Kurtz (1989) also defined such as: “political family exist when two or more relatives or have held in public office if two or more families are lined by kinship, they are interlocked, forming a kinship network.”

According to Simbulan (2007) different cities in the Philippines are being ruled by about 250 political dynasties. They have the superiority in the Philippine politics, both national and local levels have been there for at least three decades.


There are three primary objectives of this study:

  1. To define what a political dynasty is;
  2. To discover the cause of a political dynasty’s continued success by identifying socioeconomic implications in the political landscape of the Philippines.
  3. To determine the bills or laws that have been passed or made to stop its reign

Due to time constraint and limited resources, the researchers made use of established research papers of political dynasties and statistics of the advantages and disadvantages of political dynasties, specifically relating to the state of poverty in our country in this study.


This study focuses on political families that are known to be involved in holding public offices both in a national and local scale. This is necessary for the researchers to branch out the objectives without touching too much on other aspects of political dynasties.

The researchers were given a couple of months to do and furnish the study and in addition, resources were limited.


Dynasty in the Political Landscape of the Philippines

According to record, one-hundred and sixty-nine (169) of the two-hundred (200) elected House of Representatives were members of traditional families back in 1972. As such, seventy-percent (70%) of the 15th  Philippine Congress continued the trend of Philippine politics making it dynastic; this is only a matter on the national offices. To name one, the Aquinos who originated from Tarlac, began their reign in the Congress with Servillano Aquino; from then on, generation after generation filled other positions in the Legislature. The famous bloodless revolution paved the way for Corazon Aquino to rise up and oust Ferdinand Marcos from presidency. Inspired by his mother’s legacy, Benigno Aquino, Jr. followed her footsteps as president. Other prominent political families that held offices varying from the executive and legislative branches in the national government are the Marcoses, Estradas and Ampatuans. In local areas, the families of Tan and Roxas are known to have continually assumed office in their hometowns as mayors and governors. In Davao city, the Dutertes have occupied the position of mayor since 1988, passing such to a child like a heritage. To date, the Ortegas are believed to hold the longest unbroken record of political rule in the province of La Union. Gleaning from all these, a political dynasty is basically characterized as families who have politically established governance in a city or province and/or have networks to coordinate their efforts to move on to positions of national political prominence. Their amalgamated support in the province is the fruit of years and years of political and economic dominion. With the fast-paced improvements of technology, the reach of political dynasties are verily enhanced and uncompromised; for this reason, their grip has only gotten tighter and more promising.

Bridging Socioeconomic Implications of Political Dynasties and Source of Its Continued Success

With that said, studies show that a political dynasty is positively associated with poverty but upon close scrutiny, another one rebuts this fact by pointing out that the extended time horizons of political dynasties have beneficial outcomes to the socio-economy. The contrasting findings lead the researchers to bridge these causal effects, more particularly the socioeconomic outcomes to the root cause of a political dynasty’s continued success. In a study conducted by Ateneo de Manila University, it claims that the presence of political dynasties is positively poverty in some areas outside of Luzon. In another study conducted by Asia Pacific Journal through narrative inquiry, the collective utterances of the respondents highlighted political dynasty as a project characterized by continuation and completion. The results underlined the undeniable fact that political dynasties are beneficial for implementing long-term goals like scholarships but all point to one particular form of aid: financial support. The respondents’ utterances which gear toward patronizing political dynasties uncover that once a politician has achieved the loyalty by providing personal benefits to the citizen, the voting intelligence of the citizen is declined and marred by the indulgences brought by these supports. This raises the negative impact on the development of an active citizenship which indicates unwise voting. In addition, Table 5, in particular shows that political dynasties do not hold much of an influence on poverty in Luzon. If placed differently, the evidence suggests that political dynasties in Luzon neither worsen nor reduce poverty. In contrast, Table 6 reveals that political dynasties have a significant and positive influence on poverty in Visayas and Mindanao. To piece it all together, there is an interrelationship between geography and institutions as to the determination of socioeconomic outcomes like poverty. Under the light of these two studies, the results suggest that the relationship between political dynasties and poverty is more manifest in provinces outside of Luzon for the reason that the role of political dynasties in improving socioeconomic outcomes through livelihood and other economic activities can have different impacts in Luzon than in other parts of the country. Moreover, socioeconomic outcomes in areas outside of Luzon could turn bleak because the local monopolies such as transport, utilities, and the like by traditional dynastic families were made not only to restrain local economic activities but also restrict economic opportunities for the people. It is to be noted that links between dynastic politics-protected business interests are common in developing democracies. With all these to consider, the voters have become too complacent and submissive that they would rather stick to the one who brought them progress but blinded by the potential political tumults that can be seismically triggered by these dynastic families. As a result, political dynasties continue to flourish the nation with its continued existence and pose an instant sigh of relief for the citizens.

Tables (Political Dynasties and Poverty: Illustration of Measurement and Initial

Evidence of Linkages in the Philippines)

Attempts at Legislation to Abrogate the Reign of Political Dynasty

 Without defining it, it is clear that the Constitution provides for an anti-political dynasty. Section 26 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution states that: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law” (Emphasis supplied). No enabling law has been passed by Congress to enforce the said provision of the Constitution.

Anti-political dynasty bill have since been passed in both the Senate and the House of the Representatives but none became a law to enforce and to effect Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Constitution.

 On January 24, 2011, the late Senator Miriam Santiago filed Senate Bill 2649 (http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/106169091!.pdf), an act to prohibit political dyansty in the Philippines. The said bill disqualifies candidates up to the 2nd degree of consaguinty to participate in the elections but this did not reach the House of Representatives.

On December 16, 2013, The House of Representatives Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms consolidated three bills into House Bill 3587. This bill seeks to limit the number of members allowed to participate in the elections from a particular clan on a particular period. This bill have reached the plenary but was then abandoned.

Other bills were passed such House Bill Number 332 (http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_17/HB00332.pdf) filed by the representatives of the Bayan Muna Partylist together with six other partylists and House Bill No. 911 filed by Representative Harry Roque (http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_17/HB00911.pdf) which did not flourished.

The latest bill regarding political dynasty was House Bill No. 8025 filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano. However, leaders of the House of Representatives said that there was no chance for the Anti-Political Dynasty bill to prosper in the 17th Congress. Rep. Belmonte said that the proposal will unlikely prosper due to lack of time and champions.

The closest law we have right now which prohibits political dynasty was approved on January 15, 2016 during the Aquino Administration;  the Republic Act No. 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 (http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/images/uploads/2016-IRR-RA-10742-SK.pdf). Section 10 of the said act enumerates the the qualifications of an official of the Sangguniang Kabataan and provides that: “ x x x must not be related within the second civil degree of consangunity or affinity to any incumbent elected national official or to any elected regional, provincial, city or municipal, or barangay official in the locality where he or she seeks to be elected, x x x.”

In a country predominantly ruled by political dynasties, attempts can only be made in  defining and enabling the Constitution’s mandate on anti-political dynasty. 


The prevalence and reign of political dynasties can be traced to the unconventionality of citizens in their political responsibilities and duties. The complacency brought by the assurance of the dynastic families through development, financial support and other forms of benefits has been deeply set in the minds of the citizens that consequentially allowed political dynasties to foster.  The individuals’ voting scheme was garnered from the things they think that would benefit them. It merely sets out that politicians and citizens alike share eccentricity in behaviours corresponding to such political issues.

The Congress has yet to create a law that would define and effect the anti-political dynasty provision of the 1987 Constitution. For the record, bills have been passed already but until now, none has been successful enough to become a law.


This study recommends that the government, the education and youth should develop campaigns that promote anti-individualistic voting preferences. This would serve as a mechanism in promoting intelligent voting.  All citizens should see the bigger picture of the nation rather than the benefit they can draw from voting.

It is a fact that our country can never abolish political dynasties. Since most of the lawmakers in the country belong to a political dynasty, banning them would do more bad than good. However, just what Ateneo School of Government Dean, Ronald Mendoza, suggested, instead of banning dynasties altogether, it would be best regulate them by prohibiting only families with two or more members in power all of the same time allowing only those who serve in succession.


Asako, Y., Iida T., Matsubayashi, T., & Ueda, M. (2015). “Dynastic Politicians: Theory and Evidence from Japan,” Japanese Journal of Political Science, 16(1), 5-32.

Beckett, J. (1994). “Political Families and Family Politics Among the Muslim Maguindanaon of Cotabato,” in A. McCoy (Ed.), An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Cabigao, S. (2013). „It Runs In The Family‟ The Making Of Political Dynasties In The Philippines. University of the Philippines Forum. Retrieved September 2, 2015 from http://www.up.edu.ph/it-runs-in-the-family-the-making-of-political-dynasties-in-the-philippines/

Curato, N. (2012). “What is Wrong with Political Dynasties?,” GMA News. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/276345/opinion/what-is-wrong-with-political-dynasties

Dal Bo, E., Dal Bo, P., & Snyder, J. (2009). “Political Dynasties,” Review of Economic Studies, 76(1), 115-142.

Mendoza, R., Beja, E., Venida, V., and Yap, D. (2014). An Empirical Analysis of Political Dynasties in the 15th Philippine Congress. Research Gate. Retrieved September 5, 2015 from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/228276641_An_Empirical_Analysis_of_Political_Dynasties_in_the_15th_Philippine_Congress

Guarde, E. , Rosaroso, R., Rama, F., Batac, R. , & Lasala, G., (2016).  Political Dynasty in Public Governance: A Close Encounter with the Cebuanos

Myrina, K. (2013). 55 political families have unbreakable hold on power, one clan for 43 years. GMA News Online. Retrieved September 2, 2015 from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/316096/news/specialreports/55-political-families-have-unbreakable-hold-on-power-one-clan-for-43-years

Santiago, M. (2011). Senate Bill 2649 Explanatory Note. Retrieved September 5, 2015) from http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/106169091!.pdf

Researchers: Cedric Lance M. Millitar and Laila Marie P. Abalajon

All Rights Reserved. Philippines 2018.


One thought on “Dynasties in the Political Landscape of the Philippines

  1. What an interesting article! As a young voter, this article has provided me the necessary information about how grave the political dynasty in the Philippines has become. I agree with your results wherein a people from a particular town/municipality/province will likely vote for someone who gives them assistance and the people will keep voting on that politician. This scenario would end up in a situation in which a politician has gained a substantial amount of political power, influence, and loyalty from the people he/she governs. Since humans are naturally non-altruistic, there’s a tendency a person would exploit his acquired power for personal interests.


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