'Poverty, impunity exists where fat political dynasties thrive'


Posted at Feb 15 2018 01:42 PM | Updated as of Aug 27 2019 03:23 PM

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MANILA - "Fat political dynasties" or families with members simultaneously holding government positions are strong indicators of poverty and underdevelopment, according to the dean of the Ateneo School of Government. 

Dean Ronald Mendoza, who made a study on the relation of poverty and political dynasties in the Philippines, said these fat dynasties should be the target of an anti-political dynasty law for an inclusive democracy. 

"'Yung pinakamasamang epekto, nandoon sa lugar kung saan mataba 'yung dynasty. Ibig sabihin, maraming sabay-sabay na tumatakbo. The fat dynasty variable was a significant predictor of poverty."

"Doon sa fat dynasty jurisdictions, maiisip natin na hindi na democratic ang kanilang pamumuno at malamang na impunity na ang nangyayari sa lugar na 'yan, explained Mendoza, who was a resource person of a Senate hearing on anti-political dynasty bills. 

The study made by Mendoza, which was peer-reviewed by experts at the Oxford Development Studies, made the distinction between fat and thin dynasties, with the latter referring to members of political clans occupying government positions in succession. 

The Ateneo dean explained that thin dynasties do not necessarily indicate poverty in their areas of jurisdiction and may be allowed in an anti-political dynasty law for "practical political viability."

Based on their calculations, Mendoza said eliminating fat dynasties will free up to 25% of local government positions for the young and upcoming leaders of the nation.

"Nakasalalay sa kanila ang ating kinabukasan. Ang hope po natin makakapili tayo sa pinakamahuhusay at pinakamatitino sa ating mga kabataan," he said.

Mendoza also said an inclusive democracy law should strengthen political parties, which can supply new alternative youth leaders. He believes 25% of new leaders, especially young ones, can make a difference in the poorest areas of the country.

Mendoza said the study they made showed troubling patterns on the state of democracy in the Philippines. Political dynasties,he said, have increased in a lot of government positions in nearly a decade.

Based on the study from 2007 to 2016, Mendoza said the dynastic share or the number of powerful clans per position rose from 75% to 78% among district representatives; from 70% to 81% among governors; from 58% to 70% among mayors.

He also noted a correlation between the poorest areas in the country and the concentration of dynasties there. He said Maguindanao, Ampatuan clan hometown and 2nd poorest province in the country, has the highest concentration of fat dynasties. 


Mendoza also showed to senators the "White Castle" of the powerful political clan of the Ecleos, sitting atop a mountain, overlooking a poor fishing village in Dinagat Islands, also one of the poorest places in the Philippines.

"There is nothing wrong with becoming more wealthy. We need more wealthy people in our economy to drive the country to greater prosperity. What is wrong with this kind of prosperity is if you're the only one becoming prosperous and the rest are impoverished," he said.

The Ateneo dean also showed them figures indicating violent competition among politicians in Masbate with 4 congressmen being killed from 1989 to 2005, while the people remain poor with an average of 50% poverty rate over the years.

"Habang nagpapatayan sila para mamuno, wala pong nagbabago sa buhay ng mga Pilipino sa Masbate," he said.

Mendoza lamented the fact that in the absence of an anti-political dynasty law, the only thing that can defeat a fat dynasty is another fat dynasty or another powerful clan on the verge of being one.

Amid proposals to change the charter, the dean stressed that no matter what form of government is in place, as long as fat dynasties continue to exist and abuse power, change for the better will not occur.