Political families dominate Metro Manila again post-elections

Senator Cynthia Villar with her husband Manuel Villar and daughter Camille at a Church mass in Las Pinas City. The Villars are one of the most prominent political families in Metro Manila. (Photo: Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo)
Senator Cynthia Villar with her husband Manuel Villar and daughter Camille at a Church mass in Las Pinas City. The Villars are one of the most prominent political families in Metro Manila. (Photo: Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo)

Local governments in Metro Manila remain dominated by political families in the wake of the May 9 national and local elections, according to a study by ABS-CBN.

Based on data gathered by the news outlet, 15 out of 17 new mayors-elect of local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines' National Capital Region (NCR) are from political families.

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"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," said a report by ABS-CBN.

47 political families in Metro Manila fielded a total of 119 candidates in the 2022 elections.

From among these 119 members of political families, 76 candidates from 36 families won various local and national positions. This means that 63 percent of candidates from political families managed to clinch the posts that they contested.

These posts include those of mayors, vice mayors, senators, district representatives, and city councilors.

In its study, ABS-CBN defined political families as 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 elected officials.

ABS-CBN described close relatives such as parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings, and nieces and nephews with their uncles and aunts attempting to maintain political dynasties or form new ones in their LGUs.

Winning candidates from political families include the incoming Manila Mayor, the incumbent Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, who replaces Isko Moreno. She defeated two candidates from other political families – Amado Bagatsing and Alex Lopez. Lacuna will become Manila's first female mayor. Her brother, Salvador Philip Lacuna, is Manila's incoming 6th District Councilor.

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano will rejoin the Senate alongside his sister Pia.

Alan's wife, incumbent Taguig 2nd District Rep. Lani Cayetano, clinched the post of the city's mayor, replacing her brother-in-law, Lino, the younger brother of Alan, by defeating former Taguig City-Pateros three-term 1st District Rep. Arnel Cerafica.

Lani is regaining the office of Taguig mayor after having served as the city's chief executive for three terms from 2010 to 2019.

6 of the twelve incoming senators come from political families in Metro Manila: Mark Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, brothers JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Raffy Tulfo.

Some candidates swapped positions with other family members in the latest polls after reaching their term limits, or so that they could go back to their old posts.

For example, three-term Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan will swap posts with his son Dale, who is the outgoing 1st District Representative.

In Navotas, Mayor Toby Tiangco will switch positions with his brother, Lone District Representative John Rey Tiangco. They will both regain posts that they previously held before reaching their respective three-term limits in 2019.

One of the families with the most office-holders is the Aguilar-Villar clan of Las Piñas. Several candidates fielded by this family will occupy posts both local and national. Senator Cynthia Villar will be joined in the upper chamber of Congress by her son Mark, while her daughter Camille was reelected as the Lone District Rep. of Las Piñas. Imelda Aguilar, Cynthia's sister-in-law, has won her third term as mayor, and her daughter April Aguilar Nery will be on her second term as vice mayor. Aguilar’s nephews, Peewee and Lord, were both reelected as city councilors.

Political dynasties have long been identified as a problem in the Philippines, with commentators saying that concentrating power within elite families is detrimental for the society and economy. Hundreds of political families across the archipelago dominate local and national governments. The incoming president, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of former president Marcos, was able to win the country's highest office despite his family allegedly stealing billions from state coffers during his father's administration.