MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. vowed yesterday that the House of Representatives under his watch would approve an anti-political dynasty bill.
“I want a bill passed which may be looser than the current one, but at least it will be part of the law of the land that can be looked at or amended by future Congresses,” Belmonte told reporters.
He said he was in favor of the measure but was not advocating a strict version such as the one the House plenary is considering.
He said the present version of the bill would allow only one member of a political family to seek public office and ban all his relatives from running at the same time with him.
“That is very strict, and in that form, I doubt it very much that it can pass the House. But there are various variations that are being thought of,” he said.
Authors of the bill have started delivering their sponsorship speeches, but the House has not opened the measure to plenary debates.
They said they are open to a compromise that would not defeat the purpose of the proposed law that seeks to end the stranglehold of certain families on political leadership, both in the national and local government levels.
“We are eyeing a compromise that would be acceptable to our colleagues so that the bill will have a fighting chance, a better prospect of approval,” Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, one of the authors of the measure, said.
He said the present version of the bill would affect at least 150 or more than half of the 289 House members.
“That is because the proposed dynasty ban covers the spouse, children, sisters and brothers and grandchildren of an incumbent elective official, whether national or local. With at least 150 House members affected, we are facing a difficult battle,” he said.
Erice disclosed that one compromise being eyed would be to allow two members of a political family to occupy elective posts at the same time instead of just one.
“That is a 100-percent concession,” he said.
The lawmaker cited the Binay political dynasty as an example.
Erice, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, said there are four Binays presently occupying elective positions: Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Nancy Binay, Rep. Abigail Binay and Mayor Junjun Binay.
“Under the present version of the bill, only one of them would be allowed to run. The planned compromise version would allow two,” he said.
He reckoned that with the “100-percent watered-down compromise,” less than half of the 289 House members would be affected.
His co-authors from militant party-list groups have vowed to push for the strict version of the bill.
Erice has asked his party’s titular head, President Aquino, to certify the measure as urgent to expedite its approval. However, Aquino has not positively responded to his request.