Angry with oligarchs? Duterte dared to quash political dynasties

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2020 05:57 PM

FILE PHOTO OF Julio Teehankee TAKEN BY CHRISTIAN ESGUERRA

MANILA--A political science professor, who helped draft President Rodrigo Duterte's proposed federal constitution, on Friday dared him to crack down on political dynasties if he's sincere about "dismantling the oligarchy" in the Philippines.

The president boasted finishing off oligarchic families, days after his congressional allies denied a new broadcast franchise for ABS-CBN, which he had repeatedly promised to shut down.

Congressional leaders later echoed Duterte's call last year for the Lopez family to "just sell" ABS-CBN, in what critics saw as a supposed shakedown, which the president had done to other businessmen.

Political science professor Julio Teehankee warned Duterte against a selective campaign against so-called oligarchs, citing cases where "once one president’s oligarch was another president’s crony."

"If you just target 1 or 2 families and then you ignore the others, or if you don't totally consider changing fundamentally what is wrong with the structure and the system, then that is not reform--that is simply partisan politics," Teehankee said on the "ANC Matters of Fact" podcast.

"If, truly, President Duterte is sincere in trying to dismantle oligarchy in this country, he should start by passing a genuine anti-political dynasty law."

Teehankee's challenge was also aimed at Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who has also been vocal against so-called oligarchs after ABS-CBN was refused a new broadcast franchise.

"This is our chance na baguhin ang sistema, baguhin ang oligarchic system. Anyway, ilang henerasyon na din naman nakinabang yung mga pamilyang ito," he said last week.

Paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi, Teehankee said Cayetano should "be the change you want to be."

"I think he should start in his own backyard, the House, and start really pushing seriously for the dismantling of political dynasties," he said.

CAYETANO DYNASTY

Teehankee pushed hard for a self-executing provision against political dynasties when he led discussions on political and electoral reforms at the consultative committee formed by Duterte to propose changes to the 1987 constitution.

Congressmen later rejected the committee's anti-political dynasty provision and instead lifted term limits for them in their proposed federal charter.

Political dynasties are banned under the constitution but the provision requires an enabling law, which Congress has failed to pass for the past 33 years.

Over the years, political clans have only tightened their grip on political power and wealth, with some 70 percent of Congress coming from these families, said Teehankee.

Duterte has been criticized for building his own dynasty in Davao City where he served as mayor for more than 20 years. The current mayor is his daughter, Sarah, while the vice mayor is his son Sebastian. Their older sibling, Paolo, is a congressman and deputy speaker.

Cayetano also has 3 other family members in public office: his wife holds the other congressional seat in Taguig City, his younger brother Lino is the mayor, and his older sister Pia is a senator.

"He is a dynast himself. He belongs to a political dynasty, a fat dynasty at that because they occupy practically all the elected positions in their constituency," Teehankee said.

Teehankee said he was doubtful that Congress, under Duterte, would legislate a ban on these families.

"I don’t think so. It will not happen. It will not happen in this Congress, it might not happen in the next Congress, really," he said.

"So, that’s the sad reality. It is what it is. Our politicians are self-interested utility maximizers. As much as possible they will maximize their advantage."