GSTF Journal of Law and Social Sciences (JLSS)

, 5:2

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Playing The Game: Reform Politicians In The Cebu Traditional Political Field

  • Phoebe Zoe Maria U. SanchezAffiliated withFaculty Member, Social Sciences Cluster, University of the Philippines Cebu


The study looks into the viability of reform politics in Cebu’s traditional political field. This traces how politicians labor to assert and institutionalize political settlements such as “diskarte” or rationalization and legitimacy of position. The researcher found out three sources of political “habitus” [Bourdieu’s appropriation of political structure and political culture] that formed part of Cebu City’s political institutions, namely: a.) the gatekeepers who are reform-grassroots-petty politicians at the barangay level; b.) the public interest articulators at the Sangguniang Panglungsod (City Council) level; and the c.) Archetypes who are trapo aristocratic politicians competing for the seat of mayor at the city executive office.

The researcher presents six (6) purposively chosen gate keepers known as reform-grassroots-politicians at the barangay level; three (3) public interest articulators at the city council, and, three (3) mayors contesting for the city’s seat of power -- the executive office in the local government unit of Cebu City. The researcher assessed each one according to their narratives as politicians, their distinctive identity claims, their views on Cebu’s political dynamics and political norm, their annual revenue generation and budgetary allocations and their understanding on the following institutions: a.) the cabo system (system of enrolment under specific patrons), b.) the lansaderas (ballot switching schemes during elections) and the c.) inangayan (vote buying system).

The study shows that the “habitus” of the aforementioned three institutions [gate keepers, public interest articulators, and archetypes] are so inter-twined that the whole field cannot operate independent from any one of them. However, for the purpose of this paper, the habitus of the gate keepers is focused. In the paper, the three habitus have a hybridized multiplicity of complex structure-culture-nexus now distinctively operative in Cebu City’s political field that have reforms rooted only at the grassroots level and not yet embedded in the entire structure of the political order.

Neo-patrimonialism is still present although held in control due to the pressures from the grassroots below who constantly assert the legitimacy of political change in terms of assets reforms and assets redistribution. Meanwhile the go-between public interest articulators stay at the middle ground in the tugof-war between reforms and neo-patrimonial archetypal and traditional politics.