No to a glorified fiefdom

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By Andy H. Hagad

Bottom Line

Monday, March 10, 2014


HERE’S something for everyone to think about. Since 1987 our Philippine Constitution has been saying that all Filipinos must have the same or equal opportunity to render public service, and that the State therefore prohibits political dynasties because they make it harder for the rest of us to avail of that opportunity.

Instead of harking to that very clear call, what has happened since 1987 is that the dynasts among us have snubbed that constitutional prohibition. Today, we have more political dynasties than when our Constitution said “no.” I understand there is even one province in Northern Luzon where 60 or so members of one clan are either incumbent elective officials (from governor all the way down to positions in the barangay) or are holding appointive positions in the province. Who among them is the governor? Who among them are city and town mayors? Who among the 60 are barangay captains, kagawads or purok presidents? How did this anomaly happen?

Quite simply, the Constitution made the mistake of leaving it up to Congress to define by law what constitutes “political dynasties.” And since 1987 up to today, our congressmen and senators have conveniently refused to enact that law. And so dynasties flourished even if we disapprove of them.

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Someone once told me that about 100 families in the Philippines control almost 90 percent of the elective positions in the country. While this may sound like an exaggeration I can bet that, even if it is, the true facts and figures cannot be that far off. The plain truth is that many of us are being ruled by families, not served by public servants. We are not a democracy; we are a glorified fiefdom.

A group of concerned citizens belonging to large organizations of concerned lay members have decided that enough is enough. They are going around the country proposing to pass a law prohibiting political dynasties. They have given up hope that Congress will pass one so they have decided that, in default of our legislators, the people must do it themselves through the constitutional and legal avenue of a “People’s Initiative.”

Taking a lesson from past failed initiatives, this group sought the advice and counsel of the Commission on Elections before embarking on this advocacy. Now properly educated and advised, their citizens’ group is going on a nationwide campaign for support. Their aim is to harness the vote of at least three percent of the accredited registered voters in each legislative district all over the country, and at least 10 percent of the vote of all registered voters nationwide.

One day very soon a representative of this group may drop down on your community to convince you to join in the effort. Please listen to them. Understand what they are saying. Take a look at what they are offering. Reflect on your responsibility as a citizen of our country. Then give them your vote if you decide they are right. They already have mine.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 10, 2014.

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