Charter framers hit for skipping outright ban on political dynasties

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2018 07:29 AM

FILE PHOTO: Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III presides as a colleague delivers a privilege speech at the Senate Plenary hall, August 30, 2017. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III turned the tables on framers of the Constitution critical of political dynasties, saying they should have imposed an outright ban when they drafted the charter in 1986.

Pimentel is pushing for a “self-executing” provision against political dynasties in his proposed federal constitution.

The present constitution prohibits political dynasties as a “state policy” but leaves it to Congress to pass a law against them. 

“I think Atty. Monsod was a member of the con-com so maybe I can ask him a question: why did they delegate it to Congress to enact the law, if he so mistrusts Congress?” Pimentel told ANC’s Early Edition, with a hint of sarcasm.

Lawyer Christian Monsod, a member of the 1986 constitutional commission, had criticized efforts to change the Charter, warning a shift to federalism would only reward and strengthen existing political dynasties.

He dared legislators, many of them belonging to such families, to pass a law banning political dynasties up to the fourth degree of consanguinity and affinity (first cousins) ahead of a federal shift to prove their sincerity.

Pimentel said Congress could instead pass a new federal constitution with a self-executing provision against dynasties.

“That also shows sincerity. So why should there be a condition precedent upon a challenge of one man to show sincerity?” he said.

Told about Pimentel’s criticism, Monsod said the framers left the enactment to Congress “because we assumed that the degree of the relationship problem may change over time.”

It was possible, Monsod said, that the ban could cover only politicians up to the second degree instead of the fourth degree “as our democracy matures.”

“We made the mistake of assuming that Congress would carry out its task responsibly instead of doing nothing for 30 years—and blaming the Constitution for their failure,” he told ABS-CBN News.

Monsod and 10 other surviving framers earlier warned federalism would “reinforce the power of political dynasties” and “encourage the rise of warlords in different regions.”