Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ending Political Dynasties in the Philippines

For sometime now, I have been strongly advocating for the end of political dynasties in the Philippines.  In fact, I have devoted several articles in this column of the Asian Journal, several Blogs hosted by Google’s BlogSpot also under the title “Take It From My Barber”, and even wrote a special article, “How To End Political Dynasties” that was published by Positively Filipino.

I thought that, because of the inherent impossibility as proven in the last 27 years, Congress will never pass the enabling law for the Constitutional prohibition of political dynasties in the Philippines. That’s why my proposal was always using the People’s Initiative as a way to pass the enabling law.  This is also the proposal of fellow Bedan COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brilliantes whose agency is called upon to implement the initiative. It would take some efficient planning, organization, and substantial resources to initiate it but it must be done if we are to institute real reforms in our society.

The latest news took me by surprise but certainly elated me. First, Speaker Sonny Belmonte expressed support and assurances that the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill would be passed before the 2016 elections. In fact, the bill is now at the Plenary Session discussion and debate level in the House of Representatives. Second, Senate President Frank Drilon also publicly supported it, and in fact, expressed confidence that the Senate will pass it. Third and most importantly, President Aquino assured the public of his support, and that he will sign the bill into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

President Cory’s Constitution mandated it and her son PNoy enabled it! That would be a real legacy left by both mother and son who ironically are products of a practice that they are now trying to prevent.

If the support and assurances of the top three political leaders of the country are real, then a very expensive People’s Initiative is avoided. But of course, expect opposition from the well-entrenched political dynasties who have enjoyed political power and its benefits for so long.

The enabling law calls for a definition of what the Constitution prohibits as “political dynasty”. As I discussed in previous articles, I suggest the following:

“Political dynasty shall exist when a person who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official or relative within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official holds or runs for an elective office, whether national or local, simultaneously with the incumbent elective official immediately after the term of office of the incumbent official. It shall also be deemed to exist where two (2) or more persons who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective public office.”

A “spouse” refers to the legal and common-law wife or husband of the incumbent elective official.

The term “within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity” refers to the relatives of a person who may be the latter’s brother or sister, whether of full blood or half-blood, direct ascendant or direct descendant, whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, including their spouses.  It further refers to grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts, first cousins, nephews and nieces, including their spouses, of the referred person.”

“The term ‘running for an elective office’ is deemed to commence upon the filing of the certificate of candidacy by a candidate with the COMELEC.

‘Holding an elective office’ is deemed to commence from the moment the public official takes his oath of office.”

It is very important that the prohibition includes national and local offices. While the bill in the House does include them, it must be noted the current proposals in the Senate do not.

Implementing an anti-political dynasty law is indeed, not just reformist in character but almost revolutionary in its effects.

More specifically, it would create some interesting political scenarios that give more meaning to the provision that “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service.”

Let me reiterate some of my previous examples:

1. With the election of Bam Aquino as Senator for a term of six (6) years, first cousin Kris Aquino will not be able to run for any position in 2016.  So with cousin Len-Len Aquino Oreta who ran unopposed as Mayor in Malabon; uncle Henry Cojuangco who is a Congressman; and another cousin Kit who was elected Vice-Governor in Tarlac. If PNoy is allowed to run and does run for reelection, Bam Aquino may have to resign. Otherwise, PNoy would be disqualified.

2. With the election of Nancy Binay as Senator for a term of six (6) years, her father Vice President Jojo Binay will not be able to run for any position including the Presidency in 2016.  So with sister Congresswoman Abby Binay; and brother Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.  VP Jojo Binay can still run for President if Senator Nancy Binay resigns.  The mayor and congresswoman will be ineligible to run.

3. Senator Bongbong Marcos is due for reelection in 2016.  So are Ilocos Norte Congresswoman Imelda Romualdez Marcos; Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos; Leyte Congressman Ferdinand Romualdez;  Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez; and Alfred’s councilor-wife Cristina.  The Anti-Dynasty Law would allow only ONE (1) of them to run.

4. With the reelection of Senator Alan Cayetano for another 6-year term, current Senator Pia Cayetano will be disqualified from running for any position in 2016.  Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano will be disqualified likewise to run in 2016.

5. Senator JV Ejercito Estrada also got elected for a new term of six (6) years.  This would disqualify former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and current Senator Jinggoy Estrada from running for any position in 2016.  So with San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez and Laguna Governor ER Ejercito.

6. In Maguindanao, the Mangudadatu clan has Toto Mangudadatu as Governor; his brother Dong as congressman; and another brother Toy as Autonomous Region Assemblyman.  The clan also boasts of four new mayors and a couple of vice mayors within its ranks.  The Anti-Dynasty law would prohibit all who are related to each other within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity except ONE.

The Marcos dictatorship destroyed the dreams and desires of many of the idealistic and bright young men and women of a whole generation.  Political dynasties created small oligarchies and dictatorships that equally devastated the hopes and dreams of public service of the young for scores and plus years.

More than ever – I am looking at a brighter future!

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