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Placeholders and inheritors

January 2022
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[Notice to the reader: This post is not directly about transport or traffic.]

I like one post circulating in social media that is attributed to former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. about the Vice President. I particularly like this part: “Did NOT choose to be a placeholder when her husband finished his term as Mayor in Naga.” If you do a scan of elected officials around the country, you can probably see how many if not most are held by political families. Even Marvel Comics recognizes this when they featured Filipino superheroes in an Iron Man series where the original team perished and was replaced by their children!

Placeholders are usually wives of politicians who have reached the maximum of their term limits. A mayor, for example, can only run for reelection twice for a total of 9 years continuously in power. After the nine years, he/she must step down to give way to a new mayor. Instead of honing someone competent from the other leaders in the local government (e.g., the vice mayor, a councilor, etc.). As they say, elective posts in the Philippines are family business and are often passed on to the next generation of what are termed as dynasties.

My most recent encounter with a “placeholder” was with the then Mayor of Tacloban City, Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez. She was on the second year of her term after she took over from her husband who was mayor for 3 terms (9 years). I must say that she had very competent staff and we thought they did their jobs well and for the benefit of many in Tacloban. And this was during the years immediately after the tragedy brought by Typhoon Yolanda (Ketsana).

Previous to that, we’ve also encountered or engaged with other local government units dominated by certain families. One town in Cebu even had the matriarch as mayor, the son as vice mayor and the uncles as councilors! The municipal hall had a portrait of the patriarch as a multiple term mayor in the recent past. You wonder if there were no other competent people in such towns and cities.

The next presidential elections will feature the son of a former dictator with the daughter of a current president as running mate. They are supported by other dynasties such those of two previous presidents including one who was been convicted of plunder but pardoned by his successor. He was allowed to run for president again despite the conviction as the Comelec failed to make a firm interpretation and stand vs. it. Now comes someone who believes he is entitled to the presidency despite also being convicted of tax evasion. While arguably a lighter crime, it is still a conviction and should mean he cannot run for the highest position in government. He’s also a fraud because he claims to have completed his education at a well known UK school when in truth he failed there. Would you trust a tax evader, fraud and one who does not admit guilt nor expresses regret or remorse for his family’s crimes with the presidency of the country? I certainly won’t and don’t!


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