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Which Filipino Family Has Produced the Most Number of Senators?

Choose your fighter: Cayetano, Aquino, Sotto, Ejercito?
IMAGE Image - Wikimedia Commons ; Facebook - Alan Peter Cayetano
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With campaign season for the May 2019 midterm elections almost upon us, the topic of political dynasties is on every Filipino voter's mind. And if it isn't, it should be: Though the Constitution says that "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law," it seems that our lawmakers can't quite get their act together to pass an anti-dynasty law.

In fact, the number of political dynasties is on the rise in the Philippines, with most government positions held by politicians who come from "political families" (read: dynasties). One study showed that in the decade between 1995 and 2007, for example, an average of 31.3 percent of congressmen and 23.1 percent of governors were replaced by relatives.

In the meantime, it's been almost eight years since the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed Senate Bill 2649, the Anti-Dynasty Bill. "The playing field of the political arena should be levelled and opened to persons who are equally qualified to aspire on even terms with those from ruling politically dominant families," she wrote. And while the senator noted that the strength of the Filipino family may be a good thing in other aspects of Philippine life, in politics, it had "pernicious effects."

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The dominance of political dynasties is such an open secret that there's even an entire Wikipedia entry devoted just to political families. It makes for interesting reading, to see which familar family names who have held the same elected seats for generations. (See, for example, the entries listed under the Alonto family of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.) It gets even more complex when one notes that a good number of these families are related by marriage.

Here's a quick experiment we did for...whatever's the opposite of fun. On the Wikipedia page for Philippine political families, we hit Ctrl + F and did a search for several government positions, to see which families have produced the most congressmen, senators, and governors. We'll publish the results of the other positions in the coming weeks, but for now, we took a tally of the senators in each family—taking note only of the direct line and leaving out relations by marriage—and counted the families with three or more senators in their ranks:

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AQUINO (Tarlac): 6

  1. Benigno Q. Aquino Sr.
  2. Agapito "Butz" Aquino 
  3. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. 
  4. Teresa "Tessie" Aquino Oreta
  5. Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III 
  6. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aguirre Aquino IV

EJERCITO: 4

  1. Joseph E. Estrada
  2. Luisa "Loi" P. Ejercito Estrada
  3. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada
  4. Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito

OSMEÑA: 4

  1. Sergio Osmeña, Sr. 
  2. Sergio "Serging" Osmeña Jr. 
  3. Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III 
  4. John Henry Osmeña

CAYETANO: 3

  1. Renato L. "Compañero" Cayetano
  2. Pia S. Cayetano
  3. Alan Peter S. Cayetano

GUINGONA: 3

  1. Teofisto Guingona, Sr.
  2. Teofisto T. Guingona Jr.
  3. Teofisto "TG" D. Guingona III

ROXAS: 3

  1. Manuel A. Roxas
  2. Gerardo "Gerry" Roxas
  3. Mar A. Roxas 

SOTTO: 3

  1. Filemon Sotto
  2. Vicente Y. Sotto 
  3. Vicente C. Sotto

MADRIGAL (-COLLANTES): 3

  1. Vicente Madrigal (name on senate website)
  2. Pacita Madrigal-Gonzalez
  3. Jamby Madrigal
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