MANILA - As the dust settles after the May 9 national and local elections, political families are found to have dominated again the local contests in Metro Manila.
Familiar faces and last names from political families emerged victorious in the mayoral races in all but two local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region (NCR).
This means that the lives of the almost 12.9 million Filipinos residing in these cities will be shaped once again by the same families in the next three years.
A number of candidates fielded by these political families were even able to reclaim their old national positions, such as brothers Jinggoy Estrada and JV Ejercito, who both lost in 2019 but will now be back in the Senate, and former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who will again be joining his sister Pia in the Senate.
Others will be entering the national arena for the first time, such as former Las Pinas Representative and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, who will be joining his mother, Senator Cynthia Villar, in the Senate.
And there’s Raffy Tulfo and his son Raffy Jr., who were both successful on their first attempt at the Senate and Quezon City’s 2nd Congressional District, respectively.
Indeed, in the recently concluded polls, the majority of candidates fielded by political families in Metro Manila won, with 76 candidates from 36 such families clinching various local and national positions.
They represent 63 percent of the 119 candidates from 47 political families in Metro Manila that fielded their members in Halalan 2022.
Political families, as defined in this study, are those that had at least two members who ran simultaneously in the 2022 national and local elections, or may have had only one member who ran in the 2022 elections but also had at least two other members who were either incumbent or former elective officials.
Consequently, a candidate is considered a member of a political family if he or she had at least one relative who was also running in the 2022 elections, or had at least two relatives who were either incumbent or former elective officials.
Professor of Political Science Julio Teehankee of the De La Salle University earlier said that having candidates from the same political families does not bode well for democracy.
"Definitely this is not good for the health of our democracy because democracy thrives on circulation of new blood. The more new entrants you have in a democracy, the healthier your democracy is," Teehankee said.
The results of the recently concluded polls show that Metro Manila will be largely governed by the same political families.
All but two incoming Metro Manila mayors are from political families
From Valenzuela City in the north where Wes Gatchalian was able to maintain his family’s foothold by switching positions with his brother Rex, to Las Piñas in the South where Imelda Aguilar will be continuing the Villar-Aguilar clan’s 27-year reign, familiar surnames dominated the local elections in Metro Manila, with 15 out of the 17 mayors-elect coming from political families.
Only two LGUs will have mayors who are not from political families: Ike Ponce of Pateros, who will now be on his third term, and outgoing Lone District Representative Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa, who will be a neophyte chief executive.
Although Biazon is the son of former Senator and former Representative Rodolfo Biazon, there are only two of them in the family who joined politics and the elder Biazon has already retired from the political arena. Thus, they don’t fall under the definition of political family as used in this article.
It's family vs family in five cities
Five cities even saw members of rival political families duking it out for the mayoralty.
In Quezon City, reelectionist Mayor Joy Belmonte defended her post and won against Mike Defensor. This will be her second term.
In Manila, outgoing Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso left a three-way race for his seat as the city’s chief executive among incumbent Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, former 5th District Representative Amado Bagatsing, and Alex Lopez. Lacuna defeated the two men and will become Manila’s first woman mayor.
In Malabon, former Vice Mayor Jeannie Sandoval dethroned the Oretas from the mayoralty. Sandoval denied outgoing Mayor Lenlen Oreta’s attempt to transfer his seat to his brother, Enzo Oreta.
Incumbent Taguig 2nd District Rep. Lani Cayetano will be making a comeback as the city’s mayor, replacing her brother-in-law, Lino, after defeating former Taguig City-Pateros three-term 1st District Rep. Arnel Cerafica. Lani was Taguig City mayor for three terms, from 2010 to 2019.
Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro also denied the return of former Mayor Bayani Fernando as the city’s chief executive. This will be Teodoro’s third and last term as mayor. His wife, Maan, is also set to take over Fernando’s post as the 1st District Representative of Marikina.
The Fernandos previously occupied the mayoral seat of Marikina for 21 years (from 1992 to 2010). Bayani Fernando was mayor from 1992 to 2001, while his wife, Marides, was mayor from 2001 to 2010.
Pasay’s Emi Calixto-Rubiano has been reelected for a second term after defeating former City Councilor Richard Advincula.
And then there are political families who will have several family members occupying different positions at the same time -- a situation that has been called “fat dynasty” by Ateneo School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza.
The most prominent of them is the Aguilar-Villar clan of Las Piñas. All six candidates fielded by this family are set to occupy not only all local positions in the city, but a national post as well.
Two of Senator Cynthia Villar’s children were elected to office. Poised to join her in the upper chamber of Congress is son Mark, while daughter Camille was reelected as the Lone District Rep. of Las Piñas.
Imelda Aguilar, Cynthia's sister-in-law, will be on her third term as mayor alongside her daughter April Aguilar Nery, who will be on her second term as vice mayor.
Aguilar’s nephews, Peewee and Lord, were also reelected city councilors of Las Piñas’ 1st and 2nd District respectively. Peewee will be on his third term, while Lord will be on his second term.
In Quezon City, eight families fielded multiple candidates who all won. These include the following:
- the Belmonte family with three winning candidates including Mayor Joy Belmonte
- the Medalla, Pilar, Rillo, and Vargas families with two winning candidates each
- the Calalay and the Herrera families that both fielded one winning candidate each
- the Tulfos who also had two winning candidates - Raffy Tulfo, who will become a first-term Senator, and his son Raffy Tulfo Jr., who was elected 2nd District Representative
The Zamoras of San Juan City, meanwhile, fielded three candidates who all won: reelectionist city Mayor Francis Zamora will enter his second term, and his sister, Ysabel, will be the city's Representative in the House. Their sister, Amparo Zamora, has been reelected as Taguig’s Lone District Representative.
Other political families that fielded three candidates who all won were the following:
- the Malapitan clan of Caloocan
- the Abalos family of Mandaluyong
- the Olivarez family of Parañaque
- the Calixtos of Pasay
- the Gatchalians of Valenzuela.
Each of these families were able to clinch the mayoralty, while two families were able to clinch the vice mayoralty as well—the Aguilars of Las Pinas and the Abaloses of Mandaluyong.
In Manila, three political families had two winning candidates each. These include the Lacunas, including first-term Mayor Honey Lacuna; the Abantes, and the Nietos. The sole candidate of the Quintos political family also won.
The Cayetanos have two winning candidates: Alan Peter, who will be joining sister Pia in the Senate, and Alan’s wife Lani, who will be Taguig City mayor, a post vacated by Alan’s younger brother, Lino.
Additionally, those who fielded two winning candidates were the Teodoros and Acuñas of Marikina; the Noels of Malabon; and the Tiangcos of Navotas.
Ateneo's Mendoza has said that concentrating power among political families is “very contrary to democracy and meritocracy” because leaders that come from a small group of political families run the risk of using available resources to field more of their relatives in elected and appointed government positions.
Meanwhile, there were also seven political families that fielded multiple candidates who all lost. They are the following:
- the Lopezes of Manila that fielded four candidates
- the Advinculas of Pasay, with three candidates
- the Ceraficas of Taguig, with three candidates
- the Defensors of Quezon City, with two candidates
- the Bautistas of Quezon City, with two candidates
- the De Asis family of Parañaque, with two candidates
- the Eusebios of Pasig, with two candidates
Metro Manila local governments a family affair
This year’s elections in the NCR saw a big number of close relatives vying for several positions —parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings, nieces and nephews with their uncles and aunts— in what may be seen as a bid to maintain their dominance or to kickstart a new political dynasty in their respective LGUs.
Many of them emerged victorious. Eight sets of parents and their children, five sets of couples, and 13 sets of siblings were able to secure posts across the region.
Eight out of the 15 sets of parent-children tandems that vied in the 2022 NCR polls won, namely:
● Reelected Caloocan 1st District Rep. Oscar Malapitan and his sons who were also reelected - Mayor Dale and 1st District Councilor Vincent Ryan
● Malabon Lone District Rep. Josephine Veronique Lacson Noel won a second term and will be joined by her son, Regino Federico, who was elected 1st District Councilor
● Reelected Manila 6th District Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr. and son Benny Fog Abante III, who won as councilor in the city’s 6th District
● Reelected father-and-son duo, Pasay Lone District Representative Antonino Calixto and 1st District Councilor Mark Anthony Calixto
● Raffy Tulfo and son Ralph Wendel Tulfo, who were victorious on their first try entering politics as Senator and Quezon City 2nd District Representative, respectively
● The mother-and-daughter tandem of Las Piñas Mayor Imelda Aguilar and Vice Mayor April Aguilar Nery, who will be on their third and second term, respectively
● Incoming Mandaluyong Vice Mayor Carmelita Abalos who ran unopposed, and her son, 2nd District Councilor Benjamin Abalos III who will be on his second term
● Incoming Parañaque 1st District Rep. Edwin Olivarez and his son, incoming 1st District Councilor Pablo Olivarez II
Five couples also won:
● Lani Cayetano will be succeeding her brother-in-law Lino as Taguig mayor while her husband, Alan Peter, will be returning to the Senate
● Mar-Len Abigail Binay and husband Luis Campos Jr. were reelected mayor and 2nd District representative of Makati, respectively
● Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro got a third term while wife Marjorie Ann will be the city’s 1st District Representative
● In Quezon City, incumbent 6th District Councilor Ma. Victoria Pilar is poised to be the Representative of the city’s 6th Congressional District. She will be bequeathing her old position to her husband, Emmanuel Banjo Pilar.
● Maria Imelda Rillo will be on her second term as Quezon City’s 4th District Councilor while her husband is poised to occupy a seat in the House of Representatives for the city’s 4th Congressional District
13 sets of siblings also won:
● Brothers Jinggoy Estrada and JV Ejercito who will both be coming back to the Senate
● Incoming Senator Mark Villar and reelected Las Piñas Lone District Representative Camille Villar
● Reelected San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora, incoming San Juan Lone District Representative Ysabel Zamora, and reelected Taguig Lone District Representative Amparo Zamora
● Valenzuela mayor-elect Wes Gatchalian, incoming 1st District Representative Rexlon Gatchalian who ran unopposed, and Senator Win Gatchalian, who will be on his second consecutive term
● Incoming Navotas Mayor John Rey Tiangco and incoming Lone District Representative Toby Tiangco, who swapped positions in the 2022 polls
● Incoming Caloocan Mayor Dale Gonzalo Malapitan and reelected 1st District Councilor Vincent Ryan
● Parañaque mayor-elect Eric Olivarez and incoming 1st District Representative Edwin Olivarez
● Pasay Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano and Lone District Representative Antonino Calixto, who were both reelected
● Manila’s first woman mayor-elect Maria Sheila Lacuna-Pangan and incoming 6th District Councilor Salvador Philip Lacuna
● Incoming Manila Vice Mayor John Marvin Nieto and reelected 3rd District Councilor Johanna Maureen Nieto
● Incoming Quezon City 5th District Representative Patrick Vargas and incoming 5th District Councilor Alfredo Vargas III
● Twins reelected Marikina 1st District Councilor Rommel Acuña and incoming 2nd District Councilor Ronnie Acuña
● Incoming Quezon City 2nd District Councilor Julienne Medalla and reelected 5th District Councilor Ramon Medalla
Swapping positions with kin
A number of political families have found a way to stay in power beyond their term limit. Six sets of candidates swapped positions with other family members in the 2022 polls because they have already maxed out their term limit or wanted to go back to their old posts.
The Malapitans of Caloocan will be extending their nine-year reign over the city with three-term Mayor Oscar Malapitan swapping posts with his son Dale, who is the outgoing 1st District Representative.
Over at Navotas, Mayor Toby Tiangco will be swapping positions with his brother, Lone District Representative John Rey Tiangco. The brothers switched back to their previous positions after reaching their respective three-term limits in 2019.
Similarly, in Parañaque, members of the Olivarez family were able to maintain their mayoral and congressional seats, with three-term Mayor Edwin Olivarez successfully swapping posts with his brother, three-term 1st District Rep. Eric Olivarez.
Valenzuela Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian and brother 1st District Rep. Wes Gatchalian will also be swapping positions, while their other brother, Sherwin, will be on his second term as senator.
Quezon City 5th District Representative Alfred Vargas will be swapping positions with his brother, incumbent 5th District Councilor Patrick Vargas.
In Mandaluyong, Mayor Menchie Abalos slid to the vice mayoralty to give way to his father-in-law, former mayor and now mayor-elect Benjamin Abalos Sr.
Propelled to national posts
Eight members of political families from Metro Manila also vied for the country’s top positions: six of them for the senate, and two for the vice presidency.
All six who vied for the senate, won: Mark Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, brothers JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Raffy Tulfo.
They will be joining three sitting senators who also belong to political families in Metro Manila: Senators Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, and Pia Cayetano.
However, both vice presidential candidates from political families in Metro Manila, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Jose Atienza Jr., lost in the 2022 elections.