SPECIAL REPORT: The ruling clans of Mindanao: same families in 50 years, 25 years

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 May) –  The Dimaporos of Lanao del Norte and the Plazas of Agusan del Sur are  the longest-surviving political clans in Mindanao, having ruled their areas for at least half a century, interrupted only briefly when the People Power revolt ousted the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, replaced local chief executives with OICs (officers–in-charge) and elected a new set of officials in 1988.

Although it took them six years to reclaim the gubernatorial post after their ouster in 1986, it took them only a year to be back in power: in the first post-Marcos election for the House of Representatives and the Senate in 1987,  the patriarchs — Mohammad Ali Dimaporo and Democrito O. Plaza  —  who had previously served for three decades as  governor and congressman —  were elected representative of their respective districts, along with Dimaporo’s son, Abdullah.

Ali represented the second district of Lanao del Sur,  Abdullah the second district of Lanao del Norte and Plaza the lone district of Agusan del Sur.

By 1992, the clans were back at the top. Plaza and Dimaporo’s son, Abdullah, were elected governor. Ali remained in Congress.

In the post-Marcos era, clan members have been holding on to the governor’s seat in the last 21 years (seven terms) and the congressional seat in 17 years (five terms) either by succession or by swapping posts. ( See MindaNews Tables 1 and 2 below)

Abdullah served as governor from 1992 to 1998, his wife Imelda from 1998 to 2007 and their son Mohammad Khalid since 2007. Khalid is seeking a third term

Except for the period 1992 to 2001, the Dimaporos have also been representing the 2nd congressional district since Congress reopened in 1987:  Abdullah from 1987 to 1992 and 2001 to 2010, his daughter Fatima Aliah from 2010 to 2013. This year, Abdullah is returning to the post his daughter is vacating while his wife Imelda, who was elected 1st district representative in 2010, is seeking reelection.

In Agusan del Sur, the Plaza patriarch ran for governor in 1992 and was reelected in 1995 but died the same year. Vice Governor Alex Bascug took over but in the 1998 elections, Plaza’s widow, Valentina, who was governor from 1980 to 1986,  made a comeback. She retired from politics in 2001, the same year her son Adolph Edward won the seat she vacated.

Adolph Edward was reelected in 2004 but while he was expected to run for a third term, his sister, Ma. Valentina ran instead. He returned to the gubernatorial post in 2010 and is now seeking reelection.

After the 1987-1992 stint of the Plaza patriarch in Congress, the Plazas returned to Congress in 2001 and have stayed on. Adolph Edward’s brother, Rodolfo served from 2001 to 2010. In 2010,Rodolfo, who ran for Senator but lost, was succeeded by sister. Ma. Valentina while another sister, Evelyn Plaza-Mellana represented the newly-created second district.

Adoph, Ma. Valentina and Evelyn are all running for reelection. Evelyn will be pitted against her brother Rodolfo. Another brother, Victor, is running for vice governor against Adolph’s running mate.

Another Plaza son, Democrito II, served as mayor of Butuan City in Agusan del Norte for five terms from 1992 to 2007, except for 2001 to 2004 when his wife Leonides Theresa was mayor.  Democrito II passed away on October 29, 2010.


When Corazon Aquino took over as President in February 1986, among the first things she did was to appoint OICs nationwide to replace local chief executives elected in 1980.

In Lanao del Norte, OIC Francisco Abalos was eventually elected governor in 1988.  Lanao del Sur had two OICs: Saidamen Pangarungan from 1986 to 1987 and Princess Tarhata Alonto-Lucman from 1987 to 1988. Pangarungan was elected governor in 1988.

The Dimaporo patriarch, who was ousted as Lanao del Sur governor in 1986, began his political career as representative of the undivided Lanao from 1950 to 1953, sought reelection but lost to Domocao Alonto. He won his electoral protest on May 25, 1957, with only a few months remaining of his supposed term.

When RA 2228 divided Lanao into del Norte and del Sur on July 4, 1959, Salvador Lluch was first appointed as governor. In January 1960, Dimaporo was named governor.

When he ran and won a seat representing the lone district of Lanao del Norte in 1965, Vice Governor Arsenio Quibranza, a political foe whose daughter Imelda would later marry his son, Abdullah, took over as governor. In the 1967, 1971 and 1980 elections, Quibranza was elected governor while Dimaporo served as congressman from 1966 to 1972.

When martial law was declared in 1972, the Dimaporo patriarch was appointed by then President Ferdinand Marcos as governor of Lanao del Sur and President of the Mindanao State University.

In 1980, the last local elections before People Power ousted Marcos in 1986,  Quibranza was elected governor of Lanao del Norte, Dimaporo as governor of Lanao del Sur.

In December 1989, Dimaporo resigned from his congressional post to run for governor of the soon to be inaugurated Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The House of Representatives’ website says Abdullah resigned to run for ARMM governor but it was actually the patriarch who ran but lost to Zacaria Candao of Maguindanao.

In 1992, he was reelected to Congress while his son Abdullah won the gubernatorial post of Lanao del Norte.

Dimaporo retired from politics in 1995. He died in 2004 at the age of 95.

In Agusan del Sur, the patriarch, Democrito O. Plaza, a logging magnate, was  governor of the undivided Agusan province in 1964 until its division into Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte in 1967. He represented the lone congressional district of Agusan del Sur in Congress from 1969 to 1972, in the martial law-era Batasang Pambansa from 1984 to 1986 and the post-Marcos Congress from 1987 to 1992.

He was serving his second term as governor in 1995 when he passed away. He was 74.

18, 15 years

Second to the Dimaporos and the Plazas, the Amantes of Agusan del Norte have held on to the gubernatorial post in the last 18 years, from 1995.

Governor Erlpe John Amante and sister Ma. Angelica Rosedell, are swapping posts this year. The governor, who is completing his third term by June 30, is running for representative while his sister, three-term Rep. Ma. Angelica Rosedell, is returning as governor.

Ms Amante was governor from 1995 to 2004. Her brother succeeded her from 2004 to 2013.

The siblings are certain of victory next week. Both are running unopposed.

The Amantes have also been representing the 2nd congressional district for 20 years since 1987 (except for the period 1995 to 2001).

Their father, Edelmiro Amante, who passed away on March 10, served from 1987 to 1995, interrupted by a brief stint as Executive Secretary under then President Fidel Ramos. He returned to the post from 2001 to 2004, was succeeded by Ma. Angelica Rosedell from 2004 to 2007, the patriarch again from 2007 to 2010 and the daughter again from 2010 to 2013.

The other clans serving at least 15 years as governor are the Akbars of Basilan, the Romualdos of Camiguin, the Mangudadatus of Sultan Kudarat and the Pimentels of Surigao del Sur.

Wahab Akbar served as governor of Basilan from 1998 to 2007, followed by his wife, Jum. Akbar was elected lone district representative to Congress in 2007 but was killed in an explosion in the Batasang Pambansa compound on November 13 that year.

While Akbar’s wife, Jum, ran for governor in 2007, his other wife, Cherrylyn Santos, ran for mayor of Isabela City. Both widows are seeking a third term.

Fathers, sons, brothers

In Camiguin, the patriarch Pedro Romualdo served as lone district representative from 1987 to 1998 before moving on to become governor from 1998 to 2007. His son Jurdin Jesus took over in 2007 and is now seeking a third term.

In Sultan Kudarat province, the patriarch, Datu Pax Mangudadatu served as governor from 1998 to 2007. His son Suharto, who represented the then lone district of Sultan Kudarat from 2004 to 2007, was elected governor in 2007 and is now seeking a third term.

The patriarch set up residence in Buluan, Maguindanao two years ago in preparation for his running for governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Sultan Kudarat province is not part of ARMM), The ARMM election was supposed to be held in August 2011 but was synchronized with the May 13 mid-term polls.

Datu Pax is running against OIC ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and Moro National Liberation Front founding chair Nur Misuari, ARMM governor from 1996 to 2001.

Datu Pax’ nephew, Esmael Mangudadatu, is seeking reelection as governor of Maguindanao.

In Surigao del Sur, Vicente Pimentel served as governor from 1998 to 2007 and from 2007, his brother, Johnny. Another brother, Alexander, has been mayor of Tandag City since 2007. Vicente is running unopposed as mayor of Carrascal town.

The Pimentels’ mother was a former governor.

Representatives for 26 years

At the House of Representatives, five families have been representing their districts without interruption since 1987 or a total of 26 years: the Zubiris of the 3rd district of Bukidnon, the Romualdos of the lone district of Camiguin, the del Rosario-Floirendo clan of the 3rd and later 2nd district of Davao del Norte, the Bautistas of the 2nd district of Davao del Sur, and the Almarios of the 2nd district of Davao Oriental.

The same families are running for either the same posts or another post for yet another three-year hold on power, from 2013 to 2016.

In Bukidnon, the patriarch, Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr., incumbent Vice Governor, is running again for Governor, a post he held from 2001 to 2010.

Before that, he served as representative of the 3rd district from 1987 to 1998. His son Juan Miguel took over until 2007 and another son,  Jose Ma. IIII,  is now running for a third term. Juan Miguel was proclaimed Senator in 2007 but hounded by charges of having cheated to win, resigned in August 2011, his seat taken over by Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, who filed the electoral protest.

In Camiguin, Pedro Romualdo, the patriarch, had been swapping positions with his son Jurdin Jesus since 1987: Pedro as representative of the lone district from 1987 to 1998, Jurdin Jesus from 1998 to 2007 and back to Pedro from 2007 until his death last April 24.

Pedro was seeking reelection when he passed away. His grandson, Xavier Jesus, son of the incumbent governor, Jurdin Jesus, was chosen as the substitute candidate.

Another Romuldo son, Noordin Efigenio, served as  mayor of the capital town of Mambajao  from 2001 to 2007. He ran for Congress against his father in 2007 but lost, His mother, Araceli was elected mayor of Mambajao. In 2010, she was succeeded by Ma. Luisa, wife of Jurdin Jesus, the governor.

The youngest Romualdo son, Rodin, is a barangay chair and heads the provincial federation.

In Davao del Norte, the third and later the second district (when the third district was made part of the the new province of Compostela Valley), has known no other representative but the Del Rosario-Floirendo clan.

Rodolfo del Rosario, brother in law of the late kingmaker, Don Antonio Floiendo, Sr., was representative from 1987 to 1998. Before this, he was assemblyman at the Regular Batasang Pambansa in 1984-1986 (Marcos named him Environment Minister as well).

Del Rosario was elected governor from 1998 to 2004, returned in 2007 and is running unopposed for a third term.


His nephew, Antonio Floirendo, Jr. took over from 1998 to 2007 and another nephew Antonio Floirendo Lagdameo, Jr., is now running for a third term.

The second district of Davao del Sur, on the other hand, has known no other representative but the Bautistas.

Benjamin Bautista, Sr., was representative from 1987 to 1998, followed by his sons Franklin and Claude who had been trading posts – between the congressional post and the mayoralty of Malita town. Franklin is now running for a third term.

In the second district of Davao Oriental, Thelma Zosa Almario and  son Joel have been switching posts since 1987, the mother serving the congressional district from 1987 to 1998, the son from 1998 to 2007, the mother again from 2007.

Thelma is running for a third term, unopposed, while Joel, also unopposed, is assured of another term as vice governor.

In Davao City, the second congressional district has been represented by the Garcias for a total of 29 years from 1978, with a respite from 1986 to 1992.

The patriarch, Manuel Garcia, was assemblyman of the Interim Batasang Pambansa from 1978 to 1984 and the Regular Batasang Pambansa from 1984 to 1996. He returned to Congress in 1992 and served until 2001, succeeded by his son Vincent from 2001 to 2010 and daughter Mylene Garcia-Albano who is now running for a third term.

In the cities

Among Mindanao’s 33 city mayors, Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City tops as the longest-staying. Duterte, OIC vice mayor from 1986 to 1988, was elected mayor for six terms since 1988, interrupted only when the three-term rule barred him from running in 1998 and in 2010.  (See MindaNews Table 3 below)

Duterte, whose father Vicente served as governor of the undivided Davao for 12 years, was mayor from 1988 to 1998, first district representative from 1998 to 2001, mayor again from 2001 to 2010, vice mayor from 2010 to 2013 and running unopposed, is certain of a seventh term as mayor by June 30.

Within a quarter of a century since the People Power revolt, Davao City has been ruled by the Dutertes, except on term — 1998 to 2001 — when Duterte’s vice mayor, Benjamin de Guzman, was elected mayor.

When Duterte was barred from running for mayor in 2010, his daughter Sara, then his vice mayor, was elected mayor.

Sara is not running for an elective post but her brother Paolo, a councilor, will be vice mayor by June 30. Like the Duerte patriarch, Paolo is running unopposed.

In Tangub City, Philip Tan and his wife, Jennifer have been trading posts since 1995, Philip from 1992 to 2001 and Jennifer from 2001 to 2007. Philip returned as mayor in 2007 and is seeking a third term.

Since 1998, the cities of Zamboanga, Island Garden City of Samal and Dipolog have known no other mayor but the Lobregats, the Antalans and the Uys.

In Zamboanga City, Ma. Clara Lobregat completed three terms at the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1998 and moved over to the city as mayor from 1998 until her death on January 2, 2004. Her son, Celso, who took over her congressional seat, was elected mayor in 2004 and is ending his third term by June 30.

Celso and younger brother Jomar are running for the city’s congressional districts – Celso in the first and Jomar in the second.

In Samal City, brothers Rogelio and Aniano have been mayor since the city’s creation in 1998 – Rogelio from 1998 to  2007, followed by Aniano who is eyeing a third term.

In Dipolog City, Roberto Uy served as mayor from 1998 to 2007 followed by his wife, Evelyn, who is now seeking a third term.

In Dapitan, Koronadal, Ozamiz, and Tacurong, the same families have been governing these cities in the last 12 years: the Jalosjos clan in Dapitan, the Miguels in Koronadal, the Parojinogs in Ozamiz and the Montillas of Tacurong.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews) 

MindaNews Table 1: Mindanao Governors 1988-2013
MindaNews Table 2: Mindanao Representatives 1987-2013
MindaNews Table 3: Mindanao City Mayors 1988-2013