6 Philippine presidents from 3 families (and Enrile has seen them all)

Official portraits of the Presidents of the Philippines decorate the walls of the Reception Hall. Shown in this photo are (L-R) Presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Diosdado Macapagal, Carlos P. Garcia, and Ramon Magsaysay.
(Photo courtesy of Malacañang Photo Bureau)

Comments about political dynasty were made online after a Filipino observed that there will be six presidents in the republic who only came from three families for the last sixty-one years.

A Twitter user noticed that former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, a nonagenarian, is poised to experience six presidencies from three families following former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr‘s lead in the ongoing unofficial results of the 2022 elections.

Based on Comelec’s data as of May 13, Marcos has so far gained over 31 million votes.

He is the only son and namesake of late Ferdinand Marcos Sr who was responsible for implementing a 14-year Martial Law that saw various human rights abuses and violations.

“ICYMI: Enrile lives long enough to witness two Macapagals, two Aquinos, and two Marcoses sitting in Malacañang,” Twitter user @ckentelmann wrote on May 11.

“ICYMI” is short for “in case you missed it.”

“The joke is not even Enrile’s age, but our political system. 6 out of 9 presidents (1961-2028) come from only 3 families! Elite capture staring at us in the face!” the tweet added.

The tweet has so far gained 16,100 likes, over 4,300 retweets and more than 250 quotes tweets. It also earned several comments from Filipinos.

“Pinoys: Bago naman! Also Pinoys:” an online user wrote, quote tweeting the post and imitating some Filipinos’ sentiments when electing leaders.

“Who’s the real elitist here? hahaha,” another online user asked.

“Family business,” a different Filipino wrote with a checkmark emoji.

“And two Dutertes in the making,” observed another Twitter user, referring to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Marcos’ running mate, who is leading in the vice presidential race.

She is the daughter of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte.

If inaugurated, Duterte-Carpio will be the next in line to the presidency based on succession rules. She will be mandated to assume this in case of the incumbent president’s “death, disability, or resignation.”

READ: 2022 Vice presidential Candidates: Complete list

From parent to children

In 1961, late president Diosdado Macapagal was elected into office and served as the country’s head of state until 1965.

More than 30 years later, one of his children, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, assumed the position and stayed in office until 2010.

Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in the presidency in 2001 to succeed former president Erap Estrada after being his vice president.

He was ousted in the Second EDSA Revolution due to corruption and was only able to serve from June 20, 1998 to Jan. 20, 2001.

Macapagal-Arroyo, after finishing what was supposed to be Estrada’s six-year term, sought the presidency in 2004 and served a full-term office until 2010.

Her successor, late president Benigno Noynoy Aquino III, was also the child of another chief executive.

Aquino III served as head of state from 2010 to 2016 while his mother, late president Corazon Aquino, succeeded Marcos Sr. and served from 1986 to 1992.

Meanwhile, Marcos Jr, if inaugurated, will be the second Marcos to serve as president.

His father, Marcos Sr, was the chief executive from 1965 to 1986.

At that time, presidents were only allowed to serve two four-year terms. His first term was from 1965 to 1966 and his second term was from 1969 to 1972.

By September 1972, less than a year before the end of his second term, Marcos Sr. placed the country under Martial Law. This extended his term for 14 years until he was ousted in the 1986 People Power Revolution.

If Marcos Jr were to be inaugurated into office, the country will be under another Marcos presidency for the next six years.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution bans political dynasties but there are no laws in the Congress implementing Article II Section 26, which states:

“The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” 

There are several anti-political dynasty bills filed in Congress but they remain pending at the committee level.

A political dynasty is referred to by the Center for Local and Constitutional Reform as the following:

When a family whose members are related as a spouse, and up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether such relations are legitimate, illegitimate, half, or full blood, maintains or is capable of maintaining political control by succession or by simultaneously running for or holding elective positions.

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