is no lack of warnings to the dangers of political dynasties. The Web is
replete with articles on the subject. These articles not only analyze the
downside of dy-nasties with vigor and eloquence; some name the political family
lines in every corner of the country. The list is impressive, with
illustrious lineages traced back several generations.
1987 Constitution is explicit, if meagre, in its innovative prohibition of the
undemocratic nature of the problem. Article II, Section 26 simply
shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and
prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.
feature is innovative because it is the first time that political dynasties
were recognized as a threat to democracy. Yes, the prohibition was a
knee-jerk reaction against the Marcos regime, and was designed to prevent a
re-occurrence of a dictatorship. But if the country does not have a
one-man dictatorship presently, there is still a grave distortion to the
Lincolnesque ideal of democracy. What the country has now is a government
of the few, by the few and for the few.
failure of the Constitution, it has been noted by many, is in its scantiness.
While it acknowledges the problem, it leaves the solution to Congress.
The writers of the Constitution had sight, but little foresight. As the
composition of both houses of Congress has been, is now and will be largely
oligarchic, there is little possibility of the passage of an enabling law.
there are two anti-political dynasty bills, one in the Senate authored by
Miriam Defensor Santiago and another in the House of Representatives
authored by Teodoro "Teddy" Casiño. Both are in pending status
or limbo - and are likely to remain there.
Senate Bill No 2649 - An Act
to Prohibit the Establishment of Political Dynasties
House Bill No 3413 - An Act
Prohibiting the Establishment of Political Dynasties
both bills the definition of what constitutes a political dynasty is similar,
almost word for word:
Senate version: A
political dynasty "shall exist when a person who is the spouse of an
incumbent elective official or relative within the second civil
degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official
holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent
elective official within the same province or occupies the same office
immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective official.
It shall also be deemed to exist where two (2) or more persons who are spouses
or are related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity
run simultaneously for elective public office within the same province
even if neither is so related to an incumbent elective official."
HOR version: A
political dynasty "exists when a person who is the spouse of an
incumbent elective official or a relative within the second civil degree
of consanguinity or affinity if an incumbent elective official holds or
runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent elective
official within the same city and / or province or occupies the same
office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective
paragraph] A political dynasty shall also be deemed to
exist where two (2) or more persons who are spouses or are related within
the second civil of consanguinity or affinity runs simultaneously for
elective public office within the same city and / or province, even if
neither is so related to an incumbent elective official."
the two versions, the one difference that immediately jumps out is in the area
of geographical coverage. The Senate version states "within the same
province" while the HOR version has a wider interpretation in that it
specifies "within the same city and / or province".
this respect, both do not seem to go far enough. Taking the wider
Casiño version, the anti-dynasty bill appears to cover only elective positions
of local government units within "city and / or province".
These positions would range from the medium unit of town officials up to
the largest local unit of provincial officials. It is noteworthy the bill
specifically excludes the smallest of local government units, that of barangay officials.
bill does not say anything about the positions of House representatives that
are geographically based on city and provincial districts. By
implication, these positions would be caught in the net of prohibition.
be argued, however, that the net may not extend to non-geographical national
elective positions like party-list representative, senator and indeed the
presidency. If true, these are sore deficiencies.
incoming 2013 general elections, there are several senatorial candidates who
can be seen to belong to political dynasties:
Alan Cayetano, a sitting
senator up for re-election, has a sibling in the Senate whose term ends in
2016. By the bye, the senator is the current chairman of the Senate
Committee on Ethics and Privileges from which nary a whisper has been
heard about another senator who unethically plagiarizes like there is no
Juan Edgardo Angara, the
representative for Aurora province, is the son of a sitting senator whose
term ends in 2013. Angara pere has reached the limit of two
Bam Aquino is a cousin of the
President whose term ends in 2016.
JV Ejercito, the
representative for San Juan City, is the half-brother of the Senate
President Pro-Tempore whose term extends to 2016.
Jack Enrile, the Cagayan
representative, is the namesake and son of the Senate President whose term
also extends to 2016.
Gwen Garcia, Cebu Governor,
has two relatives in the House of Representatives - a brother and a father
Cynthia Villar, a former
representative, has a spouse in the Senate whose term ends in 2013.
tandem of Cayetanos might have been acceptable, considering one of them has a
pretty face. But does the country really want double dosages of Enriles
and Estradas? Or a triple serving of Garcias? Do you?
dynasties lie at the heart not only of the politics of patronage but also the
politics of privilege. On one hand, the politics of patronage easily lends
itself to the evils of nepotism, partiality to family, and cronyism, partiality
to friends. On the other hand, the politics of privilege lends itself to
warlordism and oppression. It gives to its practitioners the sense of
entitlement and impunity that, at its extreme, resulted in the Ampatuan
Philippines is an oligotheodemocracy as seen from the top-down, it is - from
the bottom-up - an idiocracy.