Wealth + donors + clans = power base

TO EACH his own power base.

Among the six senators who are raring to return to the Upper House, lawyers Alan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, and Koko Pimentel all belong to political families. Sonny Trillanes and Gringo Honasan are both ex-military men and presumably can count on support from their former colleagues in the armed forces. Trillanes also has strong ties with key campaign donors, as does Loren Legarda, a former broadcast journalist.

Legarda, however, seems to have quite an impressive collection of campaign contributors. She shares the same donors with other officials such as President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, Senator Jose ‘Jinggoy’ E. Estrada, Senator Edgardo J. Angara, and former Senator Luisa P. Ejercito. These donors are Antonio Lopa, who had also contributed to Aquino and the Estradas in past elections, and incumbent National Police Commission (Napolcom) vice chairman and executive officer Eduardo Escueta who had donated to Angara’s campaign in the 2007 elections.

But it is Honasan who stands out as being the only one of the six senator-candidates who has not declared any relatives in government service since he first became senator in 1995. He also ran as an independent — albeit as a guest candidate of various coalitions — in previous elections.

In stark contrast, all of Cayetano’s siblings have been or are still active in politics: incumbent Senator Pilar Juliana ‘Pia’ S. Cayetano, former Muntinlupa City councilor Rene Carl ‘Renren’ S. Cayetano, and Taguig Barangay Chairman Lino Edgardo ‘Lino’ S. Cayetano, who is now running for Congress as Taguig Representative. The Cayetanos’ father, the late Renato ‘Compañero’ Cayetano, had also sat at the Senate. Alan Peter’s wife Ma. Laarni is the incumbent mayor of Taguig and is seeking re-election.

Not to be outdone is Escudero. In the 2013 elections, an Escudero is running for congressman, vice governor, board member, mayor, vice mayor, and councilor in Sorsogon. This includes the senator’s mother Evelina, who is running for a seat in the House of Representatives, uncle Antonio for vice governor, and cousin Krunimar for board member.

At least four of Escudero’s family members from his father’s side have been elected in various positions in local government units in Sorsogon. The late Salvador III, Escudero’s father, also served as Sorsogon representative.

Among Escudero’s top donors in 2007 or those who donated at least P1 million include familiar names such as those of businessman Ramon S. Ang and Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. — With research and reporting by Karol Ilagan and Rowena Caronan, PCIJ, May 2013