Sep 222014
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2007-05-09 10:31
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

DE RUEHML #1494/01 1291031
O 091031Z MAY 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: A. Manila 1467
¶B. Manila 1215
– C. Manila 1073

¶1. (SBU) Summary. Political dynasties again will dominate many
Philippine elections at the national, provincial, and local levels.
Despite clear term limitations, political dynasties often turn to
other family members to “warm” their seats until they can return or
simply trade seats. Family-dominated politics reflect a highly
stratified elite structure, the importance of name recognition
coupled with weak political parties and old-fashioned patronage.
End Summary.

First Family Sets Example

¶2. (SBU) Daughter of a previous President, incumbent President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her family are perpetuating a family
tradition of public service. First Son Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo
is seeking re-election (unopposed) in the second Congressional
district in Pampanga, the President’s home province. His younger
brother Dato Arroyo is a first-time candidate in Camarines Sur,
south of Manila, where he attended university and in whose dialect
he is fluent. (“They love him there,” according to First Daughter
Luli.) First Gentleman Juan Miguel “Mike” Arroyo’s brother Ignacio
is seeking re-election in the fifth Congressional district of Negros
Occidental province in the Visayas. The First Gentleman’s sister
Marilou Arroyo is a nominee for a party-list seat representing
Kasangga sa Kaunlaran (Partners for Progress).

Cabinet and Senate Follow Suit

¶3. (SBU) Children of several Cabinet members are also competing
this year. Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo’s lawyer-son Roman is
running for the lone Congressional seat in Pasig City, while
daughter Berna Romulo-Puyat is running in the first Congressional
district of Quezon City, both in Metro Manila. (Both have been
unsuccessful in previous bids.) Eileen Ermita-Buhain, daughter of
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, is seeking re-election in the
first Congressional district of Batangas province (of which her
father was once a three-time Congressman), while brother Edwin is
running for vice governor of the province. Mark Leandro “Dong”
Mendoza, son of former Philippine National Police chief and current
Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, is also seeking a
Congressional seat in Batangas. Maria Aurora Gonzalez, eldest
daughter of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez, is running
in the second Congressional district of Bataan, where her father had
earlier pondered but decided a campaign this year (in part due to
reported death threats from the New People’s Army, he has

¶4. (SBU) Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno’s younger brother,
broadcast journalist Ricardo Puno, challenges incumbent Congressman
Rufino Biazon, son of incumbent Senator Rodolfo Biazon in Muntinlupa
City of Metro Manila. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales’ son, Raul
Jr., is seeking re-election as Congressman in Iloilo. The son of
Presidential Advisor on Revenue Enhancement Narciso “Jun” Santiago,
Jr. (husband of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, the aunt of Senate
candidate and former Congressman and Presidential Chief of Staff
Michael Defensor) — Narciso III — is a party-list nominee for

¶5. (B) Bowing out of politics, Finance Secretary Gary Teves’
father Herminio, who has completed a third and final term
representing the third Congressional district of Negros Oriental,
has fielded grandson Pryde Henry Teves to replace him.

¶6. (SBU) In Danao City of Cebu province, the father of Tourism
Secretary and Team Unity Spokesman Joseph “Ace” Durano — Mayor

Ramonito Durano (who served as Congressman for three terms before
first son “Ace” and then son Ramon “Red” Durano VI replaced him) —
again faces a challenge from older brother Don, who lost in 2001 and
¶2004. “Red” is seeking re-election in the fifth Congressional

¶7. (SBU) The son of Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene”
Pimentel, Jr. (who is not up for re-election this year), “Koko,” is
running for the Senate as part of the Genuine Opposition (although
his father swears that this was not his idea). The cousin of
outgoing Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., “Vic” Magsaysay, is part of
the Team Unity ticket for the Senate. Incumbent Senator Manuel
“Lito” Lapid is running for Makati City Mayor (see para 12).

¶8. (SUB) The sons of incumbent Senator (and Senate candidate on
the Team Unity ticket) Edgardo Angara and of incumbent Senator Juan
Ponce Enrile are seeking Congressional re-elections in the family
bases of Aurora province and Cagayan, respectively. The brother of

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incumbent Senator Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano, Alan Peter, is a
Senate candidate for the Genuine Opposition. Popular actress and
current Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos, wife of incumbent Senator and
current Team Unity Senate candidate Ralph Recto, is running for
governor of Batangas province, after having convinced brother-in-law
Ricky Recto to drop his candidacy and instead seek the fourth
Congressional district seat. Incumbent Senate President Manuel
“Manny” Villar Jr. is again running for Senate, while his
Congresswoman/wife Cynthia is seeking re-election in Las Pinas City;
they remain the richest members of their respective houses.

¶9. (SBU) Less noticeable but still noteworthy, son Edwin of Ephraim
Genuino, close aide of the President and head of the powerful
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, is running in the
second Congressional district of Makati, while son Anthony is
running for councilor in Makati City.

Metro Manila “Mafias”

¶10. (SBU) In the City of Manila (where the Chancery is located),
son “Ali” of term-limited incumbent Mayor “Lito” Atienza is seeking
to replace his dad, after having worked in his father’s
Administration for the past decade. He has adopted his father’s
traditional Hawaiian shirts and openly admits that his father will
be his political guide. He nonetheless faces some tough opposition,
including incumbent Senator Alfredo Lim, third-term Congressman
Rodolfo Bacani of the fourth district, and incumbent Vice Mayor
Danny Lacuna.

¶11. (SBU) In Valenzuela City, Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian – son of
former Estrada crony and businessman William Gatchalian — is
seeking re-election. Sherwin’s brothers Rexton and Weslie are
seeking the first and second Congressional district seats,
respectively. San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito — son of ousted President
Joseph Estrada — is seeking a third and final term. Ejercito
scrapped initial plans to run for the Senate on the Genuine
Opposition ticket; his mother/former actress Guia Gomez had
otherwise planned for mayor to run against Precy Ejercito, wife of
JV’s half-brother, incumbent Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

¶12. (SBU) Leader of the Genuine Opposition Jejomar “Jojo” Binay is
seeking re-election as mayor of Makati City, the country’s financial
and business capital, despite a late night May 4 effort by the
Department of Local and Interior Government to serve a suspension
order from the Office of the Ombudsman, in apparent violation of the
rules of order from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) against
campaign season suspensions. He has been mayor for a total of 19
years; wife Elenita warmed the mayoral seat after Jojo was
term-limited in 1998. Son Jejomar “JunJun” Erwin, 29, is also
seeking re-election, as councilor, while lawyer-daughter Abigail,
31, is vying for the second Congressional district seat. Mayor
Binay typically responds to criticism of nepotism with an assertion
that strengthening his family’s political strength is “proof of a
healthy democracy.”

Same Story in “The Provinces”

¶13. (SBU) This phenomenon of political dynasties exists throughout
the country. Below is a rundown of selected provinces, from north
to south.

¶14. (SBU) In Luzon, term-limited Governor Ferdinand “Bongbong”
Marcos, Jr. is backing his cousin, provincial legislator Michael
Keon, to replace him as Ilocos Norte governor. Bongbong will
instead vie for the second Congressional district seat to be vacated
by sister Imee, who decided to take a break from politics. In
Isabela province, Governor Grace Padaca, whose 2004 victory brought
democratic space to a province long dominated by the Dy political
clan, faces former Governor Benjamin Dy. Dy’s brothers Caesar and
Napoleon are seeking re-election as mayors in Cauayan and Alicia
towns, respectively.

¶15. (SBU) In Bulacan, north of Metro Manila, outgoing Bulacan
Governor Josie de la Cruz is supporting her brother, Provincial
Board Member Joselito Mendoza, to take over her seat. In
Pangasinan, House Speaker Jose de Venecia is optimistic he will
retain the fourth Congressional district seat, but faces competition
from outgoing Dagupan City Mayor Benjamin Lim, whose 28-year old son
Brian is seeking to replace him. The wife of outgoing governor
Victor Agbayani, who himself is seeking the second Congressional
district seat, is in a tight three-way fight over the governorship.

¶16. (SBU) In the Bicol region, the Villafuerte clan continues to
dominate Camarines Sur province. Ruling party KAMPI chief and
second district Congressman Luis Villafuerte as well as son Governor
Luis Raymond are seeking re-election, albeit under different

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parties. (They are actively supporting the candidacy of First Son
Dato Arroyo in the first Congressional district.) The late Senator
Raul Roco’s brother, former Congressman Sulpicio Roco, will
challenge Villafuerte. (Raul Roco’s widow, Sonia, is on the Genuine
Opposition senatorial slate.) In Sorsogon Province, Genuine
Opposition Senate candidate and incumbent Congressional Minority
Leader Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s father Salvador is seeking to
return to his old place in Congress.

¶17. (SBU) In the Visayas, three from the Garcia clan in Cebu —
which delivered winning votes for President Arroyo in the 2004
presidential elections — are in the thick of campaigning.
Incumbent Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is seeking re-election, but
faces a challenge from an outgoing representative. Father Pablo
Garcia, who preceded Gwen as Cebu governor, is seeking the second
Congressional district seat, while his son Pablo John seeks the
third Congressional district seat.

¶18. (SBU) Among the Tupas clan of Iloilo — who have joined the
opposition — incumbent Governor Niel Tupas is seeking re-election,
while eldest son Niel Jr. aspires for the fifth Congressional
district seat, after completing a term as provincial legislator.
Second oldest son, town Mayor Raul Tupas, is also seeking
re-election, while youngest child Nielex is running for councilor in
Iloilo City. In Naga City, incumbent Mayor Jesse Robredo —
currently facing yet another disqualification suit for his alleged
Chinese citizenship — has designated his wife as his substitute
candidate in the event he loses his case.

¶19. (SBU) In Mindanao, the Zubiri clan of Bukidnon province is
deploying at least four members in the various local races in the
province. Incumbent governor and family patriarch Jose Maria Zubiri
is seeking re-election, while son Jose Maria Zubiri III seeks the
third Congressional district seat vacated by older brother Juan
Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, who is running for the Senate with Team Unity.
Nephew Inaki Zubiri, the outgoing Malaybalay City Vice Mayor, faces
former Commissioner of Elections Virgilio Garcillano (the presumed
voice talking to President Arroyo in 2004 on the now-infamous “Hello
Garci” wiretap), along with Maria Lourdes Acosta, sister of outgoing
Congressman Nereus Acosta, who is running for governor. Acosta’s
mother Socorro is meanwhile seeking re-election as mayor of Manolo
Fortich town.

¶20. (SBU) In Camiguin province, Governor Pedro Romualdo and
Congressman-son Jesus Romualdo have agreed to switch seats (assuming
the electorate agrees). However, another son, Mambajao town
incumbent mayor Noordin, is also running for this Congressional
seat, aligned with his clan’s political nemesis, Attorney Antonio
Gallardo, the former governor who is now seeking to reclaim his old
job. Davao City showcases a perhaps unique father-and-daughter
tandem — incumbent Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and lawyer-daughter Sara
— running virtually unopposed for mayor and vice mayor,

¶21. (SBU) Facing the end of his third and final term, Basilan
Governor Wahab Akbar is seeking the lone Congressional seat to be
vacated by term-limited Gerry Salapuddin. Akbar’s first wife is
running for governor; his second wife is running for mayor of
Lamitan City; and third wife is running for mayor of Isabela City.
(Akbar is a Muslim and entitled to more than one wife.) The Pinol
brothers are running for key positions in North Cotabato.
Term-limited Governor Emmanuel Pinol is sliding down to seek the
vice gubernatorial seat. Brother Bernardo is campaigning for the
second Congressional district seat, while two other brothers, Efren
and Joselito, are each running for mayor in their respective towns.
International featherweight champion Manny Pacquiao challenges
incumbent Congresswoman Darlene Antonino Custodio in the first
district of South Cotabato Province. The Antoninos have dominated
local politics for at least 20 years and a Pacquaio victory would
represent a significant upset; he is, however, trailing in the
latest polls.

¶22. (SBU) In Maguindanao province, Governor Andal Ampatuan is
seeking re-election unopposed. Immediate and distant relatives of
Governor Ampatuan are candidates for mayor in 18 of the 22
municipalities in Magunidanao, and all are unopposed. Son-in-law
“Bimbo” Sinsuat faces a tough challenge from one of the Mastura clan
as governor of the neighboring new province of Shariff Kabunsuan,
however. Ampatuan’s son Datu Zaldy is currently governor of the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.


¶23. (SBU) With few exceptions, politics in the Philippines remains
very much an elite, insider game. Few upstarts or grass-roots “poor
boy” candidates succeed in challenging traditional landowners or
local chieftains, who in many cases have dominated the area for
decades or even generations. This is another reflection of a highly

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stratified, almost feudal societal structure, although a few of the
more recently rich Sino-Philippine families have begun to edge out
some older families. The other key to success in local and even
national politics is simple name recognition; voters remember the
politicians’ names they have always known and continue to write in
the newest family candidates. The personality-driven political
system with its weak and ever-changing political parties makes such
family ties even more important. On top of these factors,
old-fashioned patronage — along with allegations of vote buying and
command voting by local “barangay” captains to ensure precinct
voters make the “right” choice — continues to play a more sinister
but almost inevitable role in favoring incumbents and their anointed




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