Charter review body eyes outright ban vs political dynasties

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2018 02:45 PM

Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr explains his proposed federal model at the sub-committee meeting on the Bangsamoro on Tuesday. Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte’s study group is looking at an outright ban on political dynasties but faces uncertainty over whether legislators would adopt this provision in the proposed federal constitution.

Well-entrenched political dynasties are known to dominate Congress, which has been blamed for failing to pass a law against these families in the last three decades.

“We are a committee that makes its recommendations to the President and given the President’s clout in the lower house, I think they will pay attention to him,” Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, a member of the consultative body, told ABS-CBN News on the sidelines of committee deliberations at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Aquino said “there seems to be unanimity” among fellow committee members to include a self-executing anti-political dynasty provision in the constitution.

“In other words, wala nang gagawin pa ang Congress. Yung Constitution mismo ang magsasabi kung ano’ng pwede at ano ang hindi pwede,” said the dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, who called for a ban of up to the fourth civil degree.

(In other words, Congress won't do anything. The Constitution itself will say what can and can't be done.)

The present Constitution prohibits political dynasties as a state principle but leaves it to Congress to pass a law against them.

Lawyer Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the constitution, admitted having “regrets” that the 1986 constitutional commission did not include a self-executing provision against political dynasties.

“We should have put four degrees,” he told ANC’s Early Edition, referring to the relationship degree that would ban even first cousins.

“I’ve been thinking about that for a long time. After effects, I realized that I was too optimistic about the euphoria of EDSA that would prevent people from going back to the old days of too much self-interest in families.”

GREATER GOOD

In pushing for an anti-political dynasty provision, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. acknowledged cases where siblings in conflict opted to run for positions in the same area.

Pimentel said “a sacrifice has to be made for the greater good.”

“Because if you do not establish a provision against political dynasties by spelling them out, other families are excluded from the right to serve our people and that is undemocratic. Hindi tama yun,” he told fellow committee members.

Pimentel said fears that a federal setup would end up empowering political dynasties even more “can only happen if we do not do anything about it.”

The new Constitution, he said, should thus "specifically spell out the provision against political dynasties and political warlordism."

The public should realize that choosing from a small pool of leaders, who belong to political dynasties, “produces all manners of unfairness and potential capture because you will only have a few who have access to power,” said Dean Ronald Mendoza of the Ateneo School of Government. 

“And they can actually figure how to use that access for their gain and not necessarily for the public good,” he told ANC’s Talkback Monday night.