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GMA News Research: More young reps in but oldies still rule

July 16, 2007 10:28pm
In 1995, Michael Defensor accomplished what was then a rare feat to be the youngest ever to be elected to the House of Representatives at the age of 25.

More than a decade after, not one but two 25-year-olds would be walking the corridors of the Batasang Pambansa--Sharee Ann Tan (Samar, Second District) and Ma. Laarni Lopez-Cayetano (Taguig City-Pateros, First Councilor District).

They will rub elbows with the oldest member of the new House of Representatives, Cebu Second District Rep. Pablo Garcia, who is old enough to be their grandfather at 81.

Proof that political families persevere: our new district representatives are getting younger and younger, and the old ones refuse to rest.

The huge age difference should be seen as an indication of a diversified House—the young and seemingly incorruptible on one hand, old politics on the other.

“I consider my age as my advantage. I was elected by the youth. They see me as someone who is not corrupt, as someone who is full of idealism and pro-active," said Ms Cayetano, wife of newly-elected senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

While Ms Cayetano and Tan are generations apart from Garcia and most of the other senior citizens in the new House, they are bound by the same dynamics that rule all political families – to extend the power base by getting more elective posts, or by keeping an elective post for as long as possible.

Ms Cayetano inherited the post from her husband Alan Peter, who sought a higher position after finishing his third and last term in the 13th Congress. Tan is the daughter of Samar Gov. Milagros Tan who has been reelected to a 3rd and last term.

History repeating

In recent years, the youngest district representatives were all offsprings of political families.

Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. could be the first to attain this age feat, thanks to the legacy left by his famous father, President Ramon Magsaysay. In 1966, when he was just 27 years old, he was elected congressman of the Lone District of Zambales.

Former senator Ralph Recto of the famous Batangas clan was the youngest congressman in the Ninth Congress in 1992 at 28 years old.

Alan Peter Cayetano, son of former senator Rene, was the youngest in the 11th Congress. He was 27 years old then.

Twenty-six year -old Felix William Fuentebella represented the Third District of Camarines Sur in the 12th Congress, The Fuentebella clan is said to be the longest-reigning political family in Bicol and celebrated recently its 100 years in politics.

The youngest district congressman when the 13th Congress started in 2004 was Justin Chipeco of Laguna’s Second District. He was 29 years old when he succeeded his father, Joaquin.

Tan and Cayetano, the youngest in the 14th Congress, would just be 28 by the time their first term ends in 2010.

Political offspring

There are more youthful congressmen (aged 34 and below) this time than in the past Congress.

Of the 17 young district representatives, 14 are neophytes while three are reelectionists.

Table 1. Young District Representatives

Legislative district Name Term/s clan Age Predecessor
Samar, 2nd District Sharee Ann Tee Tan 1 new clan 25 Catalino Figueroa
Taguig City-Pateros, 1st Councilor District Ma. Laarni L. Cayetano 1 clan 25 Alan Peter Cayetano (husband)
Valenzuela City, 1st District Rexlon T. Gatchalian 1 new clan 28 Jose Emmanuel Carlos
Bohol, 3rd District Adam Relson L. Jala 1 clan 28 Eladio Jala (father)
Caloocan City, 2nd District Mary Mitzi L. Cajayon 1 non-clan 29 Luis Asistio
Quezon, 1st District Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga 1 clan 29 Rafael Nantes
Davao del Sur, 1st District Marc Douglas C. Cagas IV 1 clan 31 Douglas Cagas (father)
Laguna, 3rd District Maria Evita R. Arago 1 non-clan 31 Danton Bueser
Misamis Oriental, 2nd District Yevgeny Vicente B. Emano 1 clan 32 Augusto Baculio
Makati City, 2nd District Mar-len Abigail S. Binay 1 clan 31 Agapito Aquino
Laguna, 2nd District Justin SB Chipeco 2 clan 32 reelectionist
Camarines Sur, 1st District Diosdado Ignacio Maria M. Arroyo 1 clan 32 Rolando Andaya
Biliran, Lone District Glenn Ang Chong 1 non-clan 33 Gerardo Espina Jr.
South Cotabato, 1st District Darlene R. Antonino-Custodio 3 clan 33 reelectionist
Batangas, 4th District Mark Leandro Mendoza 1 new clan 33 Oscar Gozos
Negros Oriental, 3rd District Pryde Henry A. Teves 1 clan 34 Herminio Teves (grandfather)
Iloilo, 1st District Janette L. Garin 2 clan 34 reelectionist

Note: cut-off date for birthdays is July 23, 2007

Three are not from political clans – Mary Mitzi Cajayon (Caloocan City, 2nd District), Maria Evita Arago (Laguna, 3rd District) and Glenn Chong (Biliran, Lone District).

Four of the neophytes took over posts left by relatives: Ms Cayetano; Adam Relson Jala (Bohol, Third District), who succeeded his father Eladio; Marc Douglas Cagas IV (Davao del Sur, First District), from father Douglas; and Pryde Henry Teves, from grandfather Herminio.

Some of these political offspring seem to have been groomed exactly to replace their kin. The younger Cagas was his father’s congressional chief of staff in the last Congress. The Jala scion took up law and just passed the Bar exams.

Ms Cayetano said she managed the congressional district office of her husband while he was busy pushing the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo in Batasang Pambansa.

“Alan played a vital role in the impeachment. Hindi naman dapat pabayaan ang distrito," she said. Ms Cayetano added her constituents apparently noticed her efforts and eventually encouraged her to seek Alan’s post.

“I think nakita ng mga kababayan ko na hindi lang ako basta asawa ni Alan. Matalino ang mga botante," she said.

But traditional surnames are not the only foothold they have in the halls of the Batasan. Many of them are equipped with noteworthy educational background. Besides Jala, two other young representatives are lawyers. Mar-len Abigail Binay (Makati City, Second District) passed the Bar in 2002, Glenn Chong (Biliran, Lone District) in 2004.

Tan is a licensed pharmacist, having passed the licensure exam in 2003.

Twenty-eight- year-old Rexlon Gatchalian (Valenzuela City, First District) graduated at the George Washington University with a Political Science degree, cum laude. He manages the family-owned Waterfront hotels.

The 29-year-old Wilfrido Mark Enverga (Quezon, First District) finished Bachelor of Applied Science in Hospitality Administration at the Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire, and is currently studying for his Masters degree in Public Management at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Experienced and ancient

But the 14th House of Representatives remains to be an old bunch. The young is the smallest age group, comprising only 7 percent of the district representatives.

Table 3. Returning Representatives

Legislative district



Previous Term

Other positions held

Agusan del Norte, 2nd District

Edelmiro A. Amante


1987-95; 2001-04

Transco director for Mindanao; presidential consultant for Mindanao flagship projects (1997-98); executive secretary (1992-93); Region 10 assemblyman (1978-84); Con-Con delegate for Agusan del Norte (1972); Butuan City councilor (1960-64); Ampayon, Butuan City barrio lieutenant (1959)

Albay, 2nd District

Al Francis Bichara


1992-95 (Albay, 3rd District)

ambassador to Beirut; Albay governor (1995-2004); Ligao, Albay mayor (1986-88)

Camiguin, Lone District

Pedro P. Romualdo



Camiguin governor (1998-07)

Cebu, 2nd District

Pablo Garcia


1987-95 (Cebu, 3rd District)

Cebu provincial capitol consultant (2004-07); Cebu governor (1995-04); Cebu vice governor (1969-71); Cebu provincial board member (1968-69); Dumanjung, Cebu councilor (1951-55)

Davao del Sur, 2nd District

Franklin P. Bautista



Malita, Davao del Sur mayor (2001-07)

Davao Oriental, 2nd District

Thelma Z. Almario



Davao Oriental vice governor (2001-04); Mati, Davao Oriental mayor (1967-77)

Guimaras, Lone District

Joaquin Carlos A. Nava



Guimaras governor (1998-07)

Ilocos Norte, 2nd District

Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.



Ilocos Norte governor (1998-07, 1983-86); Ilocos Norte vice governor (1980-83)

Isabela, 4th District

Georgidi B. Aggabao



Isabela provincial board member (1998-01; 1992-95)

Lanao del Sur, 2nd District

Pangalian Balindong


1995-98 (Lanao del Sur, 4th District)


Sultan Gumander municipal treasurer

La Union, 1st District

Victor Francisco C. Ortega



La Union governor (2001-07); La Union vice governor (1980-86); appointed La Union provincial board member (1967)

Mandaluyong City, Lone District

Neptali M. Gonzales II



Mandaluyong City mayor (2004-07)

Manila, 5th District

Amado S. Bagatsing




Marinduque, Lone District

Carmencita O. Reyes


1978-86; 1987-98

Marinduque governor (1998-07); Constitutional Convention delegate (1971)

Masbate, 2nd District

Antonio Kho


1992-95 (Masbate, 3rd District)

Masbate governor (1998-2007); Cataingan mayor (1988-92)

Negros Occidental, 1st District

Julio A. Ledesma IV




Negros Occidental, 6th District

Genaro M. Alvarez Jr.



Negros Occidental provincial board member (1986-95)

Nueva Ecija, 1st District

Edwardo Nonato N. Joson


1987-92; 1984-86 (Batasang Pambansa assemblyman)

NFA administrator (1998-00); Nueva Ecija governor (1995-98)

Nueva Vizcaya, Lone District

Carlos Padilla


1995-2004; 1987-92; 1978-84 (Batasang Pambansa)

Dupax del Norte mayor (1972-78)

Pampanga, !st District

Carmelo F. Lazatin



Angeles City mayor (1998-07)

Pangasinan, 2nd District

Victor Aguedo E. Agbayani


1984-86 (Batasang Pambansa)

Pangasinan governor (1998-07); Pangasinan vice governor (1995-98);

Romblon, Lone District

Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona



Romblon governor (2001-04)

Shariff Kabunsuan, Lone District

Didagen P. Dilangalen


1995-04 (Maguindanao, 1st District)

Rep., 1st Dist.-Maguindanao (1995-04), Maguindanao provincial board member (1980-86)

Siquijor, Lone District

Orlando B. Fua Sr.



Siquijor governor (2001-07); Siquijor OIC governor (1986-87)

Sorsogon, 1st District

Salvador H. Escudero III


1987-96; 1984-86 (Batasang Pambansa)

agriculture secretary (1996-98); agriculture and food deputy minister (1984-86); agriculture and food assistant minister (1980-84)

Tarlac, 2nd District

Jose V. Yap


1965-72; 1987-98

Tarlac governor (1998-07); MWSS administrator (1986-87); Land Authority of the Philippines deputy governor (1964-65); Department of General Services undersecretary (1963-64); Victoria, Tarlac mayor (1952-55)

Valenzuela City, 2nd District

Magtanggol Gunigundo I




Note: cut-off date for birthdays is July 23, 2007

Eight of the 10 “returnees" earlier had all served three full terms from 1987 to 1998. They are Pedro Romualdo (Camiguin, Lone District), Thelma Almario (Davao Oriental, Second District), Victor Francisco Ortega (La Union, First District), Amado Bagatsing (Manila, Fifth District), Carmencita Reyes (Marinduque, Lone District), Carmelo Lazatin (Pampanga, First District), Orlando Fua Sr. (Siquijor, Lone District), and Jose Yap (Tarlac, Second District).

Each congressman can spend a maximum of nine years in office before he or she is barred from seeking another term. For many congressmen, the term limit is no limit at all; it gives them an opportunity to seek another office, and other get to reclaim the posts they leave behind.

In fact, almost all returning congressmen held various government posts before they sought election last May. In their absence, their relatives held the fort at the Batasan.

This seems to go on until they reach the ripe old age of retirement, which appears to be before they hit 90!

This Congress’s oldest congressman, Pablo Garcia, at 81 is still seeking the highest position in the lower chamber.

Outgoing Rep. Herminio Teves (Negros Oriental, Third District) bade farewell to the institution early this year. He is 87. A grandchild, 34-year-old Pryde Henry Teves, now succeeds him.

After finishing three terms, 84-year-old Rep. Emilio Espinosa Jr. (Masbate, Second District), ran for governor of Masbate but lost. Other members of the once well-entrenched clan also lost, but not all.

After all, political families rarely die, they just take a rest.
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