1st of three parts
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /11 July) – Across Mindanao’s 27 provinces, 33 cities and 60 congressional districts, it was business as usual in the first full week of the “new” administration (2022 to 2025) on July4 to 8. The first week simply marked the start of another three-year term for the governor, city mayor, congressional representative or their wives, husbands, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, mothers or fathers. For workers dependent on political dynasties, continuity of employment is guaranteed, at least for another three years, or for as long as the dynasty members are in power.
There was hardly any changing of the guards last week, except in a handful of areas like Surigao del Norte, where a member of a political dynasty was defeated by a member of a dynasty that it earlier toppled or in North Cotabato and Dinagat Islands where the “dynasty slayers” in 2019 lost in their reelection bid to the dynasty member or dynasty-backed candidate.
From the first elections in the post-Marcos dictatorship era — 1987 for Congress and 1988 for local posts — until the end of this present term on June 30, 2025, MindaNews’ research shows that one political dynasty will have ruled as Governor of the province for 33 years (Dimaporos of Lanao del Norte), three for 27 years (Amantes of Agusan del Norte, Romualdos of Camiguin, Mangudadatus of Sultan Kudarat); one political dynasty will have ruled as City Mayor for 34 years (Dutertes of Davao), another for 27 years (Uys of Dipolog), and two for 21 years (Jalosjos of Dapitan and Furigays of Lamitan); and four political dynasties will have ruled their congressional districts uninterrupted, as Representatives for 12 terms or 38 years (Zubiris of the third district of Bukidnon, Romualdos of the lone district of Camiguin, Bautistas of Davao Occidental and the Almarios of Davao Oriental).
Like the rest of the country, the post-Marcos dictatorship or post-EDSA political landscape in Mindanao in the past four decades saw the death and resurrection, and the rise as well as expansion of political dynasties. The1987 Constitution prohibits political dynasties to ensure “equal access to opportunities for public service” but no anti-dynasty law has been passed by the dynasty-dominated Congress.
Dr. Ronald Mendoza, Dean of the Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Government, defines political dynasty as “a family that has successfully retained political power by maintaining control over one or several elective positions over successive generations.”
Mendoza describes dynasties as “thin” and “fat.”
Thin dynasties, he said, refer to those whose members succeed each other in office while fat dynasties refer to those that have more than two clan members simultaneously holding public posts.
Mendoza pointed out that based on the data they gathered on the winners of the 2019 elections, “fat dynasties continued to expand and many became obese.”
Results of the 2022 elections in Mindanao show that 23 of 27 governors, 49 of 60 representatives and 17 of 33 city mayors are members of dynasties.
In dynasty-dominated Mindanao, the dominant dynasties are fat and obese.
Across Mindanao’s 27 provinces, the Dimaporo political dynasty, the longest-surviving political dynasty in Mindanao (since 1949), is also the longest-surviving ruling family in the post-Marcos dictatorship era starting 1986. The dynasty was dislodged – albeit briefly — when officials were replaced by OICs in 1986. Since 1992 – or a total of 33 years until 2025 — Lanao del Norte has known no other Governor but the Dimaporos – from Abdullah the son of Mohammad Ali Dimaporo, to Abdullah’s wife Imelda Quibranza, their son Mohammad Khalid and back to Imelda. The patriarch, Ali, was the province’s second Governor – from 1960 to 1965.
The Dimaporos, however, are not just in the executive branch.
Ali and his son Abdullah successfully returned to the political arena in the first post-EDSA congressional elections of 1987 – Abdullah as second district representative in Lanao del Norte and Ali in the second district of Lanao del Sur.
Abdullah served only two terms as Governor of Lanao del Norte but seven terms – or 23 years — as 2nd district Representative (1987 to 1992, 2001 to 2010 and 2013 to 2022). Add eight more years to that – as Assemblyman representing Lanao del Norte in the Interim Batasang Pambansa from 1978 to 1984 and in the Regular Batasang Pambansa from 1984 to 1986.
Dimaporo and Quibranza
Since 2010, the first and second congressional districts of Lanao del Norte have been represented by the Dimaporo couple and their children Mohammad Khalid (who also served as Governor from 2007 to 2016), Fatima Alliah and in this latest election, Aminah.
Altogether, the Dimaporos have been representing the second district for nine of 12 terms from 1987 to 2025 and the first district for five terms from 2010 to 2025.
But the Dimaporos’ rule in Lanao del Norte goes back farther, when the patriarch, Ali was elected congressman in 1949, representing the then lone district of the then undivided Lanao. Imelda’s father, Arsenio Quibranza was appointed mayor of Tubod town in what is now Lanao del Norte, also in 1949.
When Lanao was divided into del Norte and del Sur by Republic Act 2228 in 1959, Salvador Lluch was del Norte’s first governor, followed by Ali Dimaporo from January 1960 until September 1965 when he won a seat in Congress.
It wasn’t Ali’s first win in Congress. According to the roster of Philippine legislators, he represented the lone district of Lanao from 1949 to 1953, ran for re-election, filed an electoral protest and won the seat in 1957 with only six months to the end of the term. He was elected again in the 6th and 7thCongress from 1966 to 1972, representing the then lone district of Lanao del Norte. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, the President who declared martial law in 1972, appointed him Governor of Lanao del Sur in 1976 (and later as President of the Mindanao State University) and was elected Governor of the province in 1980.
After Ali won the congressional seat in 1965, the vice governor, Arsenio Quibranza, a Christian settler from Cebu, succeeded him as Governor. Quibranza, who was appointed mayor of Tubod town in 1949 and later elected and re-elected to the same post, won the gubernatorial race in 1971 and again in 1980 and ruled until the Marcos dictatorship was toppled by People Power in 1986 and OICs were appointed in their stead.
While all these political developments were happening, Dimaporo’s son, Abdullah, a Muslim, fell in love with a Christian, Quibranza’s youngest daughter, Imelda. It was a relationship that was dubbed by many as “Romeo and Juliet” as their fathers were at odds in politics. The two were married in September 1977 in civil and Islamic rites.
Dutertes of Davao
Among Mindanao’s 33 city mayors, Rodrigo Roa Duterte ruled the longest – for seven terms or 22 years from 1988 to 2016 — interrupted only twice when he reached the three-term limits and sought another elective post, as representative of the 1st congressional district from1998 to 2001 and as vice mayor to daughter Sara from 2010 to 2013. He returned as mayor in 2013 but spent the most part of late 2014 and 2015 in “listening tours” in preparation for his running for the Presidency in 2016.
Sebastian, Duterte’s youngest son, is the third Duterte to be elected mayor. Collectively, by 2025, the Duterte mayors will have ruled Davao City for 34 years: 22 by Rodrigo, nine by Sara and three by Sebastian.
From 2007 to 2022, the mayor and vice mayor were a Duterte-Duterte tandem and by 2019, the Dutertes added yet another post under their control – the 1st congressional district represented by Paolo, Duterte’s eldest son, the second Duterte to represent that district after Rodrigo.
The patriarch was elected President in 2016 and bowed out of office on June 30 on the same day his daughter Sara began her first day as Vice President and Education Secretary.
Represented by same family for 38 years
Among Mindanao’s 60 congressional districts, four are represented by the same families for 38 years – from 1987 to 2025: the Zubiris of the 3rd district of Bukidnon, the Romualdos of Camiguin’s lone district, the Bautistas of Davao Occidental’s lone district (1987 to 2016 as second district of Davao del Sur), and the Almarios of Davao Oriental’s second district.
The Zubiris, Romualdos and Bautistas expanded into “fat dynasties” as they also eventually took control of the provincial governments; the Romualdos and Bautistas, the capital towns, too; while the Almarios would remain a “thin” dynasty, passing on the congressional seat from the matriarch Thelma, to son Joel Mayo, back to Thelma, back again to Joel Mayo and now to Thelma’s grandson, Cheeno Miguel, from 2022 to 2025.
In 2019, the Bautistas expanded its dynasty even more, through the party-list group, DUMPER PTDA or Drivers United for Mass Progress and Equal Rights – Philippines Taxi Drivers Association (DUMPER PTDA), represented by Claudine Bautista, daughter of then Governor, now lone district representative Claude Bautista. The party-list group again earned a seat in the House of Representatives in the May 2022 elections.
Altogether, there are nine Bautistas in Davao Occidental who are occupying key posts: as governor, vice governor, representative of lone congressional district, provincial board member, two town mayors, a vice mayor, a councilor – and party-list representative.
In Davao City, the second congressional district has been represented only by the Garcias – Manuel, son Vincent and daughter Mylene – for 33 years – from 1992 to 2025. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)
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