World capital of dynasties

Posted by watchmen
April 15, 2024


By Ade S. Fajardo

Will we agree to charter change on the condition that the new Constitution will contain a provision defining and banning political dynasties?

Article 2, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution provides that “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

The provision has given to Congress the task of telling us what dynasties are, and the family tree branches that must be disqualified from running for elective posts to comply with the ban.



Almost 40 years have passed without Congress passing legislation that implements constitutional intent to provide equal access to opportunities for public service.

We should not even be surprised.

The current Senate, for instance, has brothers sitting as senators at the same time, a brother and his sister, a mother and her son. That is at least 25 percent of the Senate manned by dynasties.

What about the other senators? Do they have parents, spouses, children, or siblings sitting as congressmen, governors, mayors, etc.?

Will these people pass a law that will send their relations out of office?



When Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was alive, she said that “the Philippines is now conceivably the world capital of political dynasties.”

In 2013, she filed Senate Bill 1580 to define dynasties, noting that as of that time there were 178 dominant political dynasties in the country.

At the House of Representatives, 74 percent of congressmen belong to dynasties. In the Senate, 80 percent are members of political families. In the party-list system, 91 percent of the seats are held by multi-millionaires and billionaires.

Naturally, Miriam’s reasons for filing her bill are the same reasons behind its death.



Under Miriam’s bill, no spouse or person related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether legitimate or illegitimate, to an incumbent elective official seeking reelection shall be allowed to hold or run for any elective office within the same province, city or municipality or the same office in the same election.

In case the official’s constituency is national, like in the case of the president, the vice president, or a senator, the same relatives are disqualified from running within the same province where the official is a registered voter.



Also under Miriam’s bill, no person within the prohibited degree of relationship to the incumbent shall immediately succeed to latter’s position whether at the local or national level.

The Commission on Elections is directed to deny due course to any certificate of candidacy filed in violation of this proposed Anti-Dynasty Act.

Will such a law ever see the light of day?



A group of lawyers led by Rico Domingo, a former president of the Philippine Bar Association, has asked the Supreme Court to compel Congress to pass a law defining and prohibiting political dynasties.

They argue that passing such a law is a clear duty under the Constitution. Action may be compelled through the courts.

Miriam has already provided a working draft. Decades of inaction may finally be remedied through this unusual move./WDJ

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