ENOUGH!!-A A +A
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
SHAME on our lawmakers, our senators and congressmen!! It had to take a businessman, Louis Biraogo, to file a case in the Supreme Court to try and enforce the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties.
Ever since it was ratified by the Filipino people in 1987, Section 26, Article II of the Constitution expressed its distaste against members of the same families holding elective offices in government simultaneously, or one after the other, for the purpose of perpetuating themselves in power and influence. Section 26 mandated that “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibits political dynasties as may be defined by law.”
It was a mistake for the delegates of the Con-Con to agree to include the phrase “as may be defined by law”. The Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen who are supposed to provide the law defining political dynasties are of course our senators and congressmen, the very last persons on earth who will deprive their wives, children, grandchildren and siblings from tasting and sharing political power. And so it was, and is, that up to today, a fourth of a century after the 1987 Constitution was passed, our public officials continue to snub the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties, through the simple expedient of not passing a law defining what it is.
What are the chances of the Supreme Court deciding in favour of Mr. Biraogo’s petition? The power to make the law defining a political dynasty lies exclusively with Congress. Because of the “separation of powers” principle, the Supreme Court cannot enact laws. They can only interpret the meaning of a constitutional provision or a law.
On the other hand, in several landmark cases, the High Court has ruled that there are certain provisions in the Constitution which do not need legislation to be implemented or invoked, that they are self-executing provisions. For example, Supreme Court has held that the directive in Article II, Section 16 referring to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology does not need legislation for the citizen to invoke it in court.
The anti-political dynasty provision does have the phrase “as may be defined by law”, implying that the intention of the delegates was to require a law to be passed before it could be invoked. On the other hand, that kind of an interpretation may as well make Article II, Section 26 a “dead-letter” provision because Congress cannot be expected to pass a law defining it. Why should they? They (including their family members) are having too much of a good time without it. They have ignored it for 25 years. They can reasonably be expected to ignore it for another 25. That could not have been the intention of our Con-Con delegates.
I personally believe that our learned justices have more than enough authority and discretion to declare Section 26 as “self-executing” and that they have more than enough authority and discretion to define what a political dynasty is, if Congress adamantly refuses to perform that duty.
Twenty-five years of inaction by our legislators is insulting our Constitution enough. And what about the slap on the face they are giving us, the citizens, when Lolo, Anak, Asawa, Bayaw, Apo and Utod, from the basic political unit in the barangay up to the highest positions in the Executive and Legislative Departments all continue to insist that they are the only ones fit to govern this country of ours?
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 23, 2012.