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SPECIAL REPORT: The ruling clans of Mindanao: same families in 50 years, 25 years


DAVAO CITY – The Dimaporos of Lanao del Norte and the Plazas of Agusan del Sur are the longest-surviving political clans in Mindanao, having ruled their areas for at least half a century, interrupted only briefly when the People Power revolt ousted the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, replaced local chief executives with OICs (officers–in-charge) and elected a new set of officials in 1988.

Although it took them six years to reclaim the gubernatorial post after their ouster in 1986, it took them only a year to be back in power: in the first post-Marcos election for the House of Representatives and the Senate in 1987, the patriarchs — Mohammad Ali Dimaporo and Democrito O. Plaza – who had previously served for three decades as governor and congressman — were elected representative of their respective districts, along with Dimaporo’s son, Abdullah.

Lanao del Norte is still Dimaporo country (image from
Lanao del Norte is still Dimaporo country (image from

Ali represented the second district of Lanao del Sur, Abdullah the second district of Lanao del Norte and Plaza the lone district of Agusan del Sur.

By 1992, the clans were back at the top. Plaza and Dimaporo’s son, Abdullah, were elected governor. Ali remained in Congress.

In the post-Marcos era, clan members have been holding on to the governor’s seat in the last 21 years (seven terms) and the congressional seat in 17 years (five terms) either by succession or by swapping posts. ( See MindaNews Tables 1 and 2 below)

Abdullah served as governor from 1992 to 1998, his wife Imelda from 1998 to 2007 and their son Mohammad Khalid since 2007. Khalid is seeking a third term.