SC urged to press Congress on anti-dynasty law

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2012 01:50 PM | Updated as of Oct 26 2012 03:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. and several others filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) to compel Congress to enact a law defining and prohibiting political dynasties.

In a 26-page petition for mandamus, Guingona and co-petitioners Dante Jimenez, Leonard De Vera, Eduardo Bringas, Vicente Velasquez and Raymundo Jarque cited Sec. 26, Art. II of the 1987 Constitution which provides that "[t]he State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for for public service and prohibit dynasties as may be defined by law."

"While it is discretionary upon Congress to define a political dynasty, the enactment of a law prohibiting and defining political dynasties is mandatory upon Congress and it has no unlimited discretion as to when to enact the same. Thus, for the past 25 years, Congress has wantonly neglected and continues to neglect the enactment of a law prohibiting political dynasties which the Constitution itself enjoins as a duty resulting from its office," the petition read.

Petitioners asserted that political dynasties rule Philippine politics. They pointed out a study from 1946 to 1963 which has identified 584 public officials produced from 169 prominent families. These include producing 7 Presidents, two Vice-presidents, 42 senators, and 147 congressmen, the report said.

Petitioners also argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to eliminate political dynasties as explained in the plenary session of the 1986 Constitutional Commission by Commissioner Jose N. Nolledo who said that "political dynasties in the Philippines constituted social maladies that have limited if not obstructed the opportunities of young, talented but poor candidates to climb the political ladder" and "have made political positions the object if family inheritance, have spawned graft and corruption as well as formation of private armies, and have resulted in the proliferation of little monarchies in various parts of our country."