The Inbox

Election in Samar is all in the family

Tan dynasty

by Vicente Alejandro, VERA Files

CATBALOGAN CITY – The political family currently in power in Samar is digging its heels into the province by fielding all its members as candidates, although they are facing a challenge from other emerging dynasties.

All four children of re-electionist Representative Milagrosa T. Tan, as well as her brother-in-law, are running for various positions in the province, its two cities and two congressional districts.

Tan herself will face lawyer Eunice Babalcon of the Liberal Party (LP) and Villareal town Mayor Reynato Latorre of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in a three-cornered fight.

The 55-year-old Tan, a widow who became board member in 1998 and served three terms as governor from 2001 to 2010, will be running for her second term as congresswoman under the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC). She represents the province’s second district which is composed of Catbalogan City and 15 towns.

Babalcon is a scion of a political family in Paranas town. Both her parents have served as Paranas mayor. Her father Felix is a former provincial board member and is now seeking a third consecutive term as Paranas mayor.(See Babalcon political dynasty)

Latorre, on the other hand, is a three-term mayor of Villareal, Samar. His sister Marilou is now running for Villareal mayor under the NPC banner.

In the 2007 elections, Milagrosa let her second daughter Sharee Ann run for congresswoman in the second district of Samar. Sharee, then a political neophyte, won.

Then in 2010, when Milagrosa was already in her third and last term as governor, she switched places with Sharee Ann and ran as congresswoman. Also in 2010, Milagrosa fielded Stephen James, her third child who was then also a political neophyte, to run as vice governor.

All three won the elections.

This year, three more members of their family will be joining them. Milagrosa’s oldest and youngest children, as well as her late husband’s younger brother, will all be seeking public office.

Milagrosa’s brother-in-law, businessman Arnold Vasquez Tan (NP), 37, is challenging the re-election bid of incumbent Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento (LP), 50, a former vice mayor and three-term mayor of Calbayog. They are battling it out for the first district of Samar, composed of of Calbayog City and nine towns.

In Calbayog City, Milagrosa’s 32-year-old businesswoman daughter, her eldest Angelie, is running against both the incumbent city mayor, Ronald P. Aquino (LP), and the vice mayor, Rey James R. Uy (Independent). Aquino and Uy were elected vice mayor and councilor, respectively, but moved up after the assassination of Calbayog Mayor Renaldo Uy in 2011.

The slain Calbayog mayor's eldest daughter, Rosa Jessica “Aika” Uy, 30 and a registered nurse, is now the official Liberal Party candidate for Samar governor. She faces Sharee Ann (NPC), 31 and a pharmacist by profession.

Sharee Ann is seeking re-election, with her younger brother, James Stephen “Jimboy,” 29, still her running mate. Jimboy faces Wilfredo Estorninos, the long-time mayor of Basey, Samar.

Milagrosa’s youngest child Reynolds Michael (NPC), 24, is seeking the mayoral post of Catbalogan. A culinary arts and hotel management graduate and a political neophyte, he is pitted against his former sister-in-law, 29-year-old Stephany “Step” Uy-Tan (LP), who is the estranged wife of his vice governor-brother.

Step, currently city councilor, once served as barangay captain and ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Samar. She is the eldest of the four children of Coefredo Uy (LP), a three-term mayor of Catbalogan who is now running as councillor under the LP.

Step's running mate is Sherwin Art Gabon, 34, a former councilor and incumbent vice mayor of Catbalogan City. On the other hand, Reynolds Michael has Manuel Van Torrevillas, 44, a former vice mayor of Catbalogan, as his running mate.

The third man in the three-cornered mayoral fight in Catbalogan City is Jesus Redaja (Independent), 72, a former Catbalogan mayor and Samar vice governor.

In the forthcoming elections in Samar, many political families fielded their kin. But many people, including some politicians, civil society organizations and the Catholic Church, are very much opposed to political dynasties.

Local political analyst Ananias M. Leona explained the proliferation of dynasties by pointing to Congress, which “has not (yet) defined what is a political dynasty, its scope or limitation or who are qualified (to run) and who are not qualified.”

Leona, who teaches political science at the Leyte Normal University in Tacloban City, pointed out that Filipinos like holding on to power.

“That is the trait of Filipinos, because we want to be recognized and be given authority...(and) to perpetuate our name,” he said.

He admitted though that there is something advantageous about a political dynasty.

“If a person (belonging to a political dynasty) has a strong political will to do things for the betterment of the country, that is good," Leona said. "Let us say he has a strong desire to do good to the country and do not have a vested interest, that is a good advantage.”

He quickly added, though, “But who would do that?”

Article II, Sec. 26 of the 1987 Constitution prohibits political dynasties. It states: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

But the Commission on Elections has no clear basis to enforce this constitutional prohibition  Until now, Congress has not passed its implementing legislation.

When asked about the issue of political dynasties, Governor Sharee Ann Tan pointed out that the election is not an appointment to a position. “It's up to the people if they would like me, my siblings or my mom, the congresswoman. It's up to the people if they would like us because the voting is not by pacquiao system (wholesale),” she said.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes
    ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes

    The Yolanda-inspired film “Taklub” has won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The advocacy film, which had a successful premiere last Tuesday under the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, is directed by 2009 Cannes best director Brillante Mendoza and top-billed by Nora Aunor. The award cited the film’s sensitive portrayal of individuals and communities in the Philippines fighting to continue living despite natural disasters exposing them to suffering and death. …

  • Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam
    Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam

    A 21-year-old orphan from Capiz topped the chemical engineering board examinations held this month. Remington Salaya, a cum laude graduate of the Central Philippine University in Iloilo, ranked first in the board examinations with a score of 83.30 percent. Out of 405 chemical engineering graduates who took the exam in mid-May, 239 passed. …

  • A sunset party for APEC delegates
    A sunset party for APEC delegates

    Greeted by the beat of Ati-atihan drummers, delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting enjoyed a welcome dinner and cultural presentation at sunset yesterday. Dubbed FuntaSea, Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa’s Banyugan Beach was transformed into a fantasy island, complete with mermaids, fire dancers, and choreographed paraws (sailboat) representing the best of Boracay. With APEC meetings being held all over the Philippines, each presentation is conceptualized …

  • UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute
    UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Friday for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where China’s increased assertiveness has alarmed its smaller neighbors. In Manila, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. appealed to China to respect various international agreements on freedom of navigation and aviation. Coloma’s call came in the wake of an incident Wednesday where Chinese naval forces warned a US …

  • Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center
    Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center

    Philippine Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Elizabeth Buensuceso has called on participants of the ASEAN-China Center (ACC) brainstorming session to vigorously work on promoting ASEAN-China relations under the principles of inclusivity, transparency and centrality. The brainstorming session, attended by the ACC’s joint council and joint executive board members, also involved a midterm review of ACC’s work since its establishment in 2011. The ACC aims to promote …

  • Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation
    Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation

    Distressed Filipino domestic helpers in Lebanon may find it more difficult to return home. The government of Lebanon has tightened the rules on repatriation of distressed household service workers (HSWs), Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reported yesterday. Citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Baldoz said the Lebanese government opted to re-impose a previous policy requiring investigation into every case of HSWs who ran away from their employers and sought …

  • Army execs face attrition over promotion quota
    Army execs face attrition over promotion quota

    Dozens of Philippine Army officials may be removed from the service due to a promotion quota system in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang. In a letter to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, he requested that the 30 percent promotion quota – which means that only 30 percent of those eligible for promotion in a given year will actually be promoted – in the Army be raised to 50 percent. Under the military’s attrition law, middle-grade officers …

  • Philippines backs support for small enterprises at APEC meet

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options