Political dynasty-A A +A
Sunday, June 24, 2012
POLITICS in the Philippines has been in the control of a few notable families. It is normal for a politician’s son, wife, brother or other kinsman to run for the same position or another government office. Filipinos describe this practice as a “political dynasty,” or the equivalent of an oligarchy in political science. In the 14th Congress (from July 2007 to June 2010), it was surveyed that more than 75 percent of the lawmakers belonged to political families.
Section 26, Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution states: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” But since the ratification of the charter, however, Congress has yet to pass an enabling law defining what “political dynasties” are prohibited.
There were attempts by some congressmen and senators like Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño and Senators Meriam Defensor Santiago and Panfilo Lacson to file their respective bills on anti-political dynasty but nobody dared to touch it. Former senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and now Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim also filed a similar bill during their time but no one among their peers supported it.
They have their own definition of political dynasty. Santiago, in her Senate Bill (SB) 2649, said in her explanatory note: “The playing field of the political arena should be leveled and opened to persons who are equally qualified to aspire on even terms with those from ruling politically dominant families.”
SB 2649 says that no spouse or person related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to an incumbent elective official seeking reelection shall be allowed to hold or run for any elective office in the same province in the same election. The measure says “second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity shall refer to the relatives of a person who may be the latter’s brother or sister, whether full or half-blood, direct ascendant or descendant, whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, including their spouses.”
If the incumbent official holds a national position, the bill says his or her relatives shall only be disqualified from running in the province where the official is a registered voter. But if there are also candidates who are related in a similar prohibited degree, they shall also be disqualified from running for any local office within the same province and the same election.
Santiago’s bill likewise says that no person related within second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to any incumbent official shall be allowed to immediately succeed the position of the latter except for punong barangays or members of the Sangguniang Barangay.
Had this law been acted, we wouldn’t see the same family names in our local and national political arena. Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and Quezon Province Rep. Sonny Angara, son of Sen. Edgardo Angara, would have been disqualified this coming elections.
Here in Cebu, Rep. Eduardo Gullas (first district) would have been banned from endorsing his grandson, Samsam Gullas, to succeed him in Congress. Raul del Mar could not have anointed his daughter Cutie to succeed him and there would only be one Garcia, Durano, Radaza qualified to run in their respective areas. My native province Zamboanga del Norte is now practically controlled by the Jalosjos clan.
To counter this political dynasticism, political families argued that their successors submitted themselves to the electoral process. The position is not automatically handed down from one generation to the next like in a monarchy. So where is the dynasty there? Tinuod sab.
Pero mas maayo unta og mapasar ning maong balaodnon aron duna tay kahigayonan. Sige lang sila, kita na pod.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 25, 2012.