By Joseph G. Lariosa
(© 2014 Journal GlocaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – If the Philippine corridors of power are populated by relatives by blood or affinity, it is not surprising.
The pre-colonial Philippines was ruled by royalties and nobilities, like lakans, datus and mighty warriors, when laws of the jungle were supreme.
The matter of succession was interrupted only by the arrivals of Spaniards and Americans.
Despite the ongoing wars in Libya, Syria and other countries caused by popular upheavals to change their overstaying leaders, like what EDSA I had done, the Philippine Congress still refuses to accept the grim reality that political dynasty is really the main reason majority of the Filipino people are wallowing in abject poverty.
Right after the Filipino people toppled Marcos for overstaying in Malacanang, the revolutionary government of Cory Aquino took the initiative to nip the political dynasty in the bud by approving a provision in the 1987 Constitution that bans a family from monopolizing power.
But the problem is that Section 26 of Art. II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution was merely directory, not mandatory. It says, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”
This policy merely contradicted Section 13 of the same Art. II, that says, “The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.”
How can the youth be encouraged in “their involvement in public and civic affairs” if only the youth of the overstaying politicians are given the chance to get elected into office?
This reminded me of this past week’s Gospel of Matthew 16:23, when Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You (after Jesus told Peter and other apostles that as a Son of God, He was going to suffer death).” 23 But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
FRAMERS WERE THINKING AS SATANS
The framers of the Philippine Constitution apparently while they were crafting the state policy against political dynasty were thinking as Satans or politicians, instead of thinking of the welfare of the people as God or statesmen. They should not have given Congress the option to “define” anti-political dynasty since it will be in conflict of the interest of these politicians. They should have just made it self-executory. Were them framers trying to drown frogs by tossing them in a shallow river? How myopic could they be?
Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice (2nd-LP) told former Senator and former DILG Sec. Joey D. Lina over streaming DZMM 630 radio program, “Sagot Ko Yan!,” monitored live in Chicago, Illinois from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. last Saturday (Aug. 30) that his bill, HR 3587, an anti-political dynasty measure, is on life support.
Mr. Erice said although the anti-political dynasty measure has been introduced in every Congress during the last 27 years, it never saw the light of day.
When asked by Mr. Lina if anti-political dynasty “ay malapit sa sikmura ng mga tao” (close to stomach of the people) that would necessitate them to discuss the matter, Mr. Eric responded, very much so.
Mr. Erice said, “Siyam sa sampung pinakamahirap na probinsiya ay pinamumunuan ng mga politikong kinakasangkutan sa dynasty o mga ka-alyado ng dynasty. Bukod sa hindi mabilis ang pag-unlad ng bayan, lalong yumayaman ang political dynasty.” (Nine out of ten of the poorest provinces are headed by, if not involved with, dynasty or be allied with it. Instead of fast-tracking to improve the livelihood of the people, only the political dynasty is getting richer.)
Aside from provinces, cities and towns are also headed by political dynasty. It even starts from the lowly barangay, a training ground of the children of the mayors to run for higher office. And it goes all the way up to vice mayor, mayor and other elective positions occupied by the father, the mother, sister, brother, in-laws, etc. Not only does dynasty control the levers of power, it also monopolizes even the private enterprises.
“Nagkakahawaan na.” (It’s really infectious.)
180 OUT OF 291 CONGRESSMEN ENGAGED IN POLITICAL DYNASTY
Although, his bill had hurdled the committee on suffrage, Erice said each of the 180 out of the 291 congressmen is engaged in political dynasty. He is not very optimistic that these 180 congressmen will ever vote in favor of his bill when it goes for a plenary vote.
Even party-list representatives are now infected by this plague.
Mr. Erice told Mr. Lina that his bill will not allow an elected politician to let his children, siblings, parents or second degree of consanguinity and affinity, including in-laws, parents of in-laws and children of in-laws to run for office.
Right now, the Vice President (Binay) has a daughter, who is a senator, another daughter, who is a representative, a son, who is a mayor, and a wife, who was a former mayor. Or the Marcoses, who have a senator, a representative and a governor in the nuclear family.
There are at least two in the senate, who are siblings, one half-brothers, before a mother-and-son out of the 24 senators. There are governors, whose wives are either mayor or members of the city or municipal or provincial boards. In the case of Davao City (Mayor Duterte), when the father was termed out as mayor, he ran as vice mayor, then, let her daughter ran for mayor. When, he ran again for mayor, his son was his running mate as vice mayor.
In the case of Camarines Sur, in the last election, the grandfather ran against his grandson, who won as governor. Even Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., who is pushing for the passage of the anti-dynasty bill, is having credibility issues on this bill because his only daughter, Joy Belmonte, is the incumbent vice mayor of Quezon City while his nephew, Christopher “Kit” Belmonte is a representative of Quezon City’s 6th district.
Mr. Erice, however, is willing to compromise: to allow to run “two relatives in the governor’s office, successive or at the same time.Kailangan lang maumpisahan. (We just need to break the ice.) I hope there will be a sunset provision that will end such practice after a term of office.
“It’s better than nothing because peoples’ initiatives and referendum need higher threshold requirements: 3% vote of the electorate and 10% vote of the entire electorate, that is hard to meet.
Like Lina, who said he will not tolerate political dynasty, Mr. Erice said he will never let relatives of the second degree of consanguinity to run while he is in office.
He said if he succeeds with the political dynasty bill, he will turn to other electoral reforms, like electoral voting and how to deal with political butterflies. Stay tuned! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Joseph G. Lariosa
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago, IL 60630