By JOHANNE MARGARETTE JACOB, VERA Files
DAGUPAN City—In vote-rich Pangasinan, the choices are reduced to two: elect a father and son, or brothers to office.
One of the most prominent political families in this northern province is in the third legislative district.
The Resuellos in San Carlos City have been ruling the city since the ‘90s despite the assassination of the clan’s patriarch Mayor Julian Resuello in 2007. He was then running for vice mayor, and his son Julier was replacing him as mayor, when he was killed. The case remains unsolved.
The elderly Resuello was also a former councilor. Julier followed the same political path by starting out as the head of the Sangguniang Kabataan and the League of Barangays president.
His younger brother, Joseres, ran as vice mayor to replace his father. Both won in the 2007 and 2010 elections are now seeking reelection.
Another brother, Jolly, was also a former Board Member bring the head of the SK provincial chapter. He was elected councilor in Basista and is now running as vice mayor.
Their uncle, Julian’s brother Manuel, was also the head of the association of barangays in San Carlos City in 2004. He then won as councilor in 2007 and 2010 but failed to finish his term after succumbing to diabetes.
Manuel's wife Corazon succeeded him and is now running for reelection as councilor.
Meanwhile, the sixth district town San Manuel, a father and son rule. The son, reelectionist Mayor Alain Jericho Perez, is running with his father, Salvador Perez Sr., who is seeking to be reelected as vice mayor.
Salvador Jr., who is also a Board Member as he is the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) provincial president, is seeking to be elected as provincial legislator.
San Carlos City and San Manuel were both declared by the police as areas of concern. San Carlos was included on the list following the 2007 assassination. It was about the same time in San Manuel when then Vice Mayor Boni Apilado—a political rival of the Perezes—was killed.
The two areas are also two of the three towns given the initial augmentation from the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the Task Group Amianan.
The Commission on Elections defines political dynasty as “a situation where persons related to each other within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity hold elective office simultaneously or some offices successively in a legislative district, region, province, city, or municipality.”
A Comelec official said the electoral body has no power to bar political families since there is no enabling law.
Article II, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution states, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”
But political dynasty is a flourishing trend. The House of Representatives has yet to pass a law and observers say it’s highly unlike since Congress is ruled by clans.
A recent study of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center (AIMPC) found out that at least 115 (68 percent), of the members of the 15th Congress (the House of Representatives) elected in 2010 have relatives who were local officials elected in 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)