SOLONS AGAINST POLITICAL DYNASTIES

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reform approved HB 3587, a consolidation of three Anti-Political Dynasty measures namely; HB 172 filed by Reps. Neri Colmenares (BAYAN MUNA), Carlos Zarate, Luzviminda Ilagan (GABRIELA), Emmi De Jesus (GABRIELA), Antonio Tinio (ACT TEACHERS), Fernando Hicap (ANAKPAWIS), Terry Ridon (KABATAAN) and Edgar Erice, HB 837 by Rep. Erlinda M. Santiago (SAGIP) and HB 2911 by Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, all seeking to carry out the Constitutional mandate against political dynasty in order to guarantee equal access to public service.

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reform approved HB 3587, a consolidation of three Anti-Political Dynasty measures namely; HB 172 filed by Reps. Neri Colmenares (BAYAN MUNA), Carlos Zarate, Luzviminda Ilagan (GABRIELA), Emmi De Jesus (GABRIELA), Antonio Tinio (ACT TEACHERS), Fernando Hicap (ANAKPAWIS), Terry Ridon (KABATAAN) and Edgar Erice, HB 837 by Rep. Erlinda M. Santiago (SAGIP) and HB 2911 by Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, all seeking to carry out the Constitutional mandate against political dynasty in order to guarantee equal access to public service.

The measure otherwise known as “The Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2013” defines political dynasty as the concentration, consolidation or perpetuation of public office and political power by persons related to one another. The bill aims to prohibit the spouse, or person related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to an incumbent elective official, to hold or run for any local or national elective office in the same election nor immediately succeed the position of the incumbent official.  However, this will not apply to punong barangays or members of the Sangguniang Barangay.  Second civil degree includes grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, first cousin, nephew or niece.

Moreover, the measure says that in case a candidate is not related to a current elective official but related to a co-candidate within the said prohibited civil degree of relationship, only one of them shall be allowed to hold or run for office.  This will be settled by the Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) through a raffle or drawing of lots among the concerned candidates.  If the rest of the concerned candidates voluntarily withdraw their candidacy, the one remaining will be allowed to run for office.

In the event that a candidate is deemed in violation of this Act, the COMELEC will accept petitions to disqualify a candidate filed by a voter, candidate or political party, at any time after the last day of filing of candidacy until the date of proclamation. The petition shall be decided within five days upon receipt from the respondent.

The trend of political dynasties continuously limits the liberating potential of Philippine democracy. Rep. Colmenares, one of the co-authors, said the socio-political inequities prevalent in Philippine society limit public office to members of ruling families. Last May 2013 elections, a study conducted by the GMA Research Team revealed that early filing of certificates of candidacy has revealed the dominance of political families in the country. The study exposed about 178 political families in the country today, controlling 72 provinces, or 94% of the entire country. The same study revealed the supremacy of political families in all possible regions of the Philippines as Aguilar-Villar, Belmontes, Binay, Cayetano dominate NCR, Ampatuans and Mangudadatu in Maguindanao, Angaras in the lone province of Aurora, Arroyo’s in Pampanga, Cojuangcos in Tarlac, Lobregat and Jalosjos controlling Zamboanga, Marcos in Ilocos and Romualdez in Leyte, Ortegas in La Union, Remulla and Revilla in Cavite, Mitra in Palawan, Singson in Ilocos Sur, Tupas in Iloilo and Villafuerte in Camarines Sur.

While not all of these political families won the Filipinos hearts and rejected some names associated with entrenched political families, the study clearly shows that a huge percentage of political dynasties still dominate the Upper and Lower House.

The likelihood of HB 3587 being enacted into law is every man’s democratic dream. Having true equality in our midst, being represented by honest public servants, this bill, among other promising measures, is deemed to be another diamond in the rough in the present Congress.  Although this time, it’s true elegance and beauty will not shine until the whole nation becomes educated voters and willful followers of democracy. 

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