I HEAVED a sigh of relief after I heard Chairman (of the Consultative Committee on Con-Con) Reynato Puno say that the constitutional provision banning political dynasties must be self-executing or must not need an implementing law. This to me is the heart of the matter.
Currently, only the wealthy are represented in Congress because they alone can bankroll our very expensive elections. These representatives have never enacted a law implementing the 1987 Constitution’s ban on political dynasties as it is effectively to commit political hara-kiri. Thus, the revised ban, if ever, has to be self-executing.
I said if ever as we have to deal with the claim that it is undemocratic to ban political dynasties. This has an element of truth because indeed dynasties are members of the body politic and should enjoy equal rights to vote and be voted on.
We must, therefore, shift from directly banning political dynasties to indirectly easing them out by providing for a not-privately-financed-hence-more-democratic election system and a proportional representation system through certified genuine political parties. In this manner, the non-rich and marginalized sectors of society enjoy an effective equal chance of being represented, and of participating, in government.
The present system is very undemocratic in the sense that only the rich or those bankrolled by the rich, including the criminally rich, can afford to run and win in our elections. Hence only the rich are represented in government. Hence, their vested interests trump everybody else’s. And this is not democracy.
As insurance, therefore, if we get a self-executing ban or as an alternative if we don’t, the new constitution should contain provisions eliminating private money from election campaigns and creating a genuine party-list system of proportional representation. We should stop voting for individuals who run on their money and start voting for parties who run on their programs.
Separate political parties should represent the interests of big business and labor, of big landlords and small farmers or farm workers. Moreover, all parties should have equal chances of winning seats in government because accredited and certified-genuine parties should become public institutions that are funded by the government.
The idea then is not so much to ban political dynasties (which might be declared undemocratic) as to rid our nation of the very undemocratic system that allows only the rich to run for, and win, office. Under the current system only the interests of the rich are represented in government. This in effect makes us an oligarchy and not a representative democracy. This is what the new constitution should correct.