Facts First questions Marcos son’s designation as House leader

CHEERS TO veteran political journalist Christian Esguerra for an insightful and straight to the point examination of a telling development in the House of Representatives. 

In the July 27 episode of Esguerra’s “Facts First series” on YouTube, Esguerra interviewed Jean Encinas-Franco, a professor at the University of the Philippines Department of Political Science, regarding the election of first-time lawmaker and presidential son Sandro Marcos as Senior Deputy Majority Leader in the 19th Congress. Marcos is the Representative of the First District of Ilocos Norte.

Esguerra asked Encinas-Franco the question which would set the tone for the rest of the hour-long episode: “Talagang tumbukin na natin ‘no, deserve ba ni Sandro Marcos itong posisyon na ‘to, ‘yong Senior, Senior ah, Deputy Majority Leader ng Mababang Kapulungan?” [Let’s get to the point, does Sandro Marcos deserve this position as Senior Deputy Majority Leader of the Lower House?”] 

Encinas-Franco was equally straightforward in her response. She made it clear that the presidential son did not deserve the post and would not have gotten it if not for his father’s being President and his uncle’s being the Speaker. 

She pointed out that the election of a first-time lawmaker like Marcos to the post is unusual and indicates a loss of respect for seniority which used to be observed in Congress. She noted that first-time lawmakers often undergo mentoring by their seniors in government before being given such responsibilities. 

Esguerra followed Encinas-Franco’s observation with an inquiry into the state of politics in the country. Esguerra asked whether or not Marcos’ election in the House even mattered, since this is not the first time family ties have been used to gain advantages. 

For Encinas-Franco, this means that politicians nowadays do not even bother with pretending to be objective: “Wala man lang gustong magpanggap. Dati kasi nagpapanggap pa sila, ‘di ba?” [“No one even wants to pretend. Before they would still pretend, right?”] She described this as “unfortunate” and a “sad commentary on the kind of politics we have now.” 

Encinas-Franco traced the persistence of this kind of “attitude” to politicians witnessing how the public continued to support them no matter what they do, which she said was proven during the term of former President Duterte whose popularity ratings remained high despite his involvement in many controversies throughout his term. 

Esguerra and Encinas-Franco also discussed the Marcos clan’s growing political dynasty, the link between nepotism, corruption, and the weakening of the opposition, and President Marcos’ State of the Nation Address.

Esguerra called on viewers to reflect on our current political system: 

“We have to re-examine our value system and the way we look at our politics and the way we see corruption.” He urged viewers to examine the track records of those running for elective posts and to look at government not as a “family enterprise.” 

Media should have reported more critically on the election of the presidential son by questioning the obvious anomaly in having an inexperienced, first-time lawmaker occupy a senior post. The public’s seeming acceptance of or resignation to this kind of politics should be challenged by year-round reports on patronage politics and political dynasties and how these foster corruption and undermine good governance.