Define dynasty-A A +A
Saturday, October 20, 2012
YES, we have political dynasty problems, especially in instances when what matters is not leadership but family politics. And what prevails is inequality in the use of power which could grow dangerously big at the expense of freedom.
But we can talk about it and that’s the plus in a democracy. We have the rostrum in the session hall and rallies in the streets.
Section 26 of Article II in the 1987 Constitution says, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”
Look again at this constitutional edict, how do you define “define”?
There’s the order to forbid political dynasties even as they’re there in bulk and color, and the attempt to “define” the law is still something legislators need to look at squarely in the face. We need leaders to look more deeply into the actual conditions of the dynastic fever in a non-oligarchy, in order to check it, while we still can.
An article written by an Asian Institute of Management professor, Ronald Mendoza, could make us worry a little more when Congress promises to look into Section 26 of Article II in the 1987 Philippine Constitution but drops it along the way until the next session.
You’d worry about inequality of “access to political power.”
Of the senatorial candidates of a party for 2013 elections, eight candidates are related to incumbents. Only four are non-dynastic, sort of, at least, for now.
It’s a tricky situation, you can’t simply go shooting down dynastic politics. Being an archipelago, our forefathers were in faraway villages in the islands kept alive and safe in the hands of close clans and led by chiefs with familial power. But we were given the chance to experience democracy with its feature of elections, giving freedom to people for them to choose leaders.
Are we taking care of the gift of freedom in a democracy?
In this present Congress, there’s a count of leaders and their relatives. A total of 30 percent of all representatives in government are parents of incumbents in the family. Count children, spouses, siblings, also in-laws, even grandparents in the power house.
In the U.S., 6 percent of incumbent legislators come from dynasties, even in democratic conditions. But in the Philippines (and in Mexico), the rate is fantastic—37-40 percent. And this is talking of legislators. If you include dynastic incumbents in local government units, it should be 70 percent. Of the young incumbent legislators today, some 80 percent are from political dynasty families.
Consider a recent study of Congress during the 2003-07 period—almost 80 percent of dynastic legislators increased their net worth.
In a good leadership, you would wish that the fit legislator or president or prime minister could best come from one family or clan which you’d vote for all the time. But this doesn’t happen every day.
The story of the Lees in the Republic of Singapore is not usual. Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister for 30 years, elected and reelected. He is the father of modern Singapore, brought reforms and developed what is a small island that now has “first-world status”. And Lee is also the father of the prime minister in 2004, Lee Hsien Loong. The Lee dynasty is still at work in some offices in government and the tendency of the people is to keep them there for what they have done pushing the republic to successes in many aspects.
As a simple traveler in Singapore, taking a trip there on an assignment, the impressions I got of the place which stay in my memory is orderliness in all the places we visited in that week. Development is seen in the way the city looks, even in small aspects of good leadership, like the cleanliness of the urban span and the absence of messy traffic.
So it’s not a matter of cutting off any signs of dynastic reality. There’s a need for a good look into the problem to find out how we can control it and have the capability to use it when the leadership is good for the country.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2012.