Duterte on Surigao del Norte dynasty: “Puro Matugas na man ni tanan”

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SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 08  Nov) – “Puro Matugas na man ni tanan” (These are all Matugas), President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday as he acknowledged officials who graced the launching of the Siargao Island Sports and Tourism Complex in Dapa, Siargao Island.

Duterte was acknowledging Governor Francisco “Lalo” Matugas; his wife Sol,  who previously served as Governor and Representative and his son, Francisco Jose, the incumbent Representative of the 1stdistrict.

But Duterte said he meant no offense with his “puro Matugas na man ni tanan” because “kapareho-pareho man ta” (we are the same), referring to political dynasties that he said have become part of the “political practice” but stressed that dynasties are “not bad.”  (see other story)

Duterte also noted that he only has three family members who are also in politics.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte flashes his signature pose with Senator Christopher Lawrence Go and Surigao del Norte District 1 Representative Francisco Jose Matugas II after conducting a brief inspection of the Siargao Island Sports and Tourism Complex before the inauguration ceremony at Brgy. Osmeña, Dapa Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte on November 6, 2021. ACE MORANDANTE/

Matugas’ brother and sister are also elected officials, his brother Ernesto as Vice Mayor of Surigao City after serving three terms as mayor, a post now held by his son Ernesto, Jr.,  and  Governor Matugas’ sister, Elizabeth, as mayor of Dapa town.

The 79-year old Matugas patriarch, a lawyer, hails from Siargao. He worked at the Bureau of Customs and started his political career in 1992 when he defeated Moises Ecleo in the gubernatorial race.

He served as a governor in the province for three consecutive terms, until 2001. He ran for Representative of the 2nd district in 2001 but lost to Robert Ace Barbers. His brother Ernesto also lost his bid for Governor against a Barbers.

No other family member was in politics while Matugas served as Governor. He made several attempts to run for other posts but lost to the Barbers.

Sensing he can’t win in any race against the well-oiled Barbers clan, Matugas decided to run for 1stdistrict Representative in 2007 and won.

During that same year, he coalesced with several town mayors including the wealthy Guillermo A. Romarate Jr. of Tubod town.

Matugas was given another boost in 2007 when Dinagat Island was carved out of Surigao del Norte and made a  separate province.  The Ecleos of Dinagast had close political ties with the Barbers family.

Matugas served the 1st district for three terms from 2007 unril 2016. His wife Sol, a retired regional director of the Department of Education, ran for and won the gubernatorial post in 2010 and served until 2019 while his son, Francisco Jose, has been serving as 1st district Rep. since 2016.

Also in 2010, Matugas’ younger brother Ernesto T. Matugas ran as mayor of Surigao City and won.

Matugas dynasty

From only one Matugas in power from 1992 to 2010, the Matugas political dynasty has since expanded.

Here is a list of the incumbent officials from the Matugas family:

  1. Francisco T. Matugas, patriarch, Governor of Surigao del Norte (1992-2001; since 2019; seeking reelection in 2022)
    2 .Francisco Jose F. Matugas, son, Representative of the 1st district (since 2016; seeking a third term in 2022)
    3. Ernesto U. Matugas, Jr., nephew, Mayor of Surigao City since 2019; seeking reelection in 2022)
    4. Ernesto T. Matugas, brother, Vice Mayor of Surigao City (Mayor from 2010 to 2019; seeking reelection in 2022)
    5. Proserfina Matugas-Coro, sister, Mayor of Del Carmen town
    6. Alfredo Matugas Coro, nephew, Vice Mayor of Del Carmen town since 2019 (mayor from 2013 to 2019;  running for mayor in 2022)
    7. Elizabeth Matugas, sister, Mayor of Dapa town since 2019; seeking reelection in 2022
    8. Marlon Matugas, nephew, Vice Mayor of Dapa

The latest addition to the ruling political clan is Gerry Matugas Abejo, son of the Dapa mayor who was appointed as councilor after Dapa vice-mayor Alfred Matugas Gonzales died.

Abejo is running for Vice Mayor of Dapa town in 2022.  (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)