Mom is mayor, son is governor
[시사타임즈 = 이철원 시사타임즈 회장] The modern electoral system in the Philippines started in 1907, and electoral politics boasts a long history of over 100 years. However, politics in the Philippines has been dominated by several major political families, and this “family politics” started when the indigenous ruling powers of the Philippines were colluded with colonial powers during the Spanish and American colonies. In the early days of the Spanish colony, a small number of people tried to rule the whole of the Philippines, so some elites were recruited. Even if dominance passed from Spain to the United States, the political elite remained the core of power until now.
Even now, about 200 powerful families in the Philippines maintain their political influence while owning vast amounts of land and corporations. The constitutional amendment in 1987 limited the president to a single six-year term and the senator to two consecutive terms. A representative example is former President Arroyo, who ran for and was elected to the House of Representatives immediately after the president to avoid judgment by law. Marcos' widow, Imelda, was elected to the House of Representatives, his son Marcos II to a 12-member senator, and his eldest daughter to the governor of the province of Illikos. Former President Estrada ran for president again and was tormented by President Aquino, but his son was elected to the Senate.
In particular, former President Estrada deliberately ran for president when it was difficult for two candidates to decide who was running for president. This is a new political term called the ‘estrada effect’. Such family politics became a major cause of corruption politics due to a chronic disease that was difficult to reform no matter who came to power. In the past, the Philippines played an important role in the democratization winds in Asia, but it is questionable whether true democracy is being realized now.
In Leyte, where Arau is active, was no exception. Moreover, it is divided into the Imelda family and the pettila family who oppose it. Mayor Tacloban is Imelda's nephew who owns the most real estate in the region, and the Governor Pettila family is also known to have a lot of cash. In the early 80's, the current governor's father was the governor, after which his father passed the governor over to his wife (the governor's mother). After serving as governor, his mother ran for the House of Representatives, passing the governorship to his eldest son, and his eldest son also served as governor two times before moving to the government's energy minister, passing the governorship to his younger brother, the current governor. He was not personally passed on, but was elected through normal elections, but ran alone without any other candidates. If someone ignores a powerful political family and runs for office, they may be buried in the local area or lose their life if they make a mistake. The governor's mother, now 76, still serves as mayor of Palo City. Because she is playing a role as a political godmother in the region, she is treated like the current governor at various events, and some mayors call Palo Mayor ‘Mom’. But even more remarkable is the governor's aunt, the mayor of Palo, who is 79 years old, but is the current mayor of Bai Bai in the south of Leyte. There are over 80 governors and mayors in the Philippines.
I always had to care about the governor's mother, Mayor Palo. Even though I am an old woman, I like Korean cosmetics, so I gave them Korean lotions and lipsticks. When I set up her agricultural leader training school in Tanawan, a neighboring city other than Palosi, I was frustrated that she didn't build it in her own city. To this, I said, "I did not decide the location of the agricultural school, but your son, the governor, decided to punish him." “My son is growing up and he doesn’t listen,” she said with a laugh.
At a time when we were about to return to Korea, why did the people still have no choice but to support the political family from generation to generation? True democracy felt so far away.
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