MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte’s consultative committee has agreed to ban specific relatives to succeed incumbent elective officials, in a potential roadblock to the possibility of his own daughter replacing him.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has been mentioned before by some groups as a potential presidential candidate, although she has been mum about the possibility.
The Duterte-created committee drafting a new federal constitution agreed that "no person related to an incumbent elective official within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity can run for the same position in the immediately following election."
Its proposals will still be reviewed by the President, who is expected to endorse it to Congress during his State of the Nation Address in July.
Congress, if convened as a constituent assembly, will decide whether to adopt the consultative committee’s recommendations.
Con-com member Julio Teehankee said the possibility of the political dynasty ban affecting Duterte and his daughter was "raised" during deliberations.
"But again, we followed the instruction of the President and to be fair with the President, he said we must do what is necessary," Teehankee told reporters.
"He did not direct us toward any position."
The committee spent a huge part of Wednesday’s deliberations firming up the definition of political dynasties.
A political dynasty, the body agreed in a unanimous vote Wednesday, "exists when a family whose members are related up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether such relations are legitimate, illegitimate, half or full blood, maintains or is capable of maintaining political control by succession or by simultaneously running for or holding elective positions."
Such families are also barred "from running simultaneously for more than one national and one regional or local position."
"With our vote today, they shall be omnipotent no more," former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who heads the committee, said.
Lawyer Roan Libarios, who voted in favor of the ban, expressed reservations over how the prohibition on family members simultaneously running for a local post even if none of them had no prior association with political dynasties.
He cited the possibility of a candidate say, for governor, getting disqualified because a half-sibling was also gunning for a barangay post simply because of the ban on simultaneous candidacies.
The provision, he warned, could be "used, manipulated, mangled by those veterans in electoral politics and result in the denial of access" to deserving candidates.
The committee sidestepped the issue of whether "mistresses" should be covered by the prohibition.
Some members joked they had neither the "experience" nor "expertise" to decide on the matter.
"It’s a fuzzy issue... It’s one battle at a time," Teehankee said, noting the committee focused on a "workable" solution to the problem of political dynasties.
Puno said limiting the ban up to the second degree of relationship was the "right balance between the right of the people to elect and the right of some people to be elected."
The committee left it to Congress to provide "additional prohibitions" such as expanding the ban to the third or fourth degree of relationship.
Teehankee earlier acknowledged the possibility that legislators, many of whom come from political dynasties, might also decide to reject a political dynasty ban later on.
Concom member Bienvenido Reyes, a former Supreme Court associate justice, appealed to legislators to "rise above and beyond your and your family’s interest" and adopt the committee’s proposed dynasty ban.
Puno said he would "rather be in harm’s way than to put our democracy in harm’s way."
"I do not give a nanosecond thought to the possibility that in voting to regulate political dynasties, we shall be incurring the ire of the gods in our political firmament whose fortunes may be compromised," he said.
"Our democracy can no longer withstand political dynasties powered by genealogy instead of driven by ideology."