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Miriam: Philippines is world's political dynasty capital

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Friday said that the Philippines is the “world capital of political dynasties,” with 178 active dynasties.

Santiago said that voters should shun members of political dynasties, whom she called “stationary bandits,” “gluttons for power and privilege,” “the equivalent of Mafia crime families,” and “monopolies and combinations in restraint of opportunities for others.

“Some dynasties have ruled for eight years, some for 20 years, and some for the incredible period of 30 years.  They have carved out a monopoly for themselves, as if only their families are qualified for public office.  Some are even running for the Senate,” she said.

She lamented that the proliferation of political dynasties is a result of the 13 years of deliberate inaction by legislators on anti-political dynasty bills.

In the Senate, Santiago said 80 percent or 18 of the current 23 senators are members of political families. In the partylist system, 91 percent or 52 seats are held by millionaires and multi-millionaires.

She said that of the country’s 80 provinces, 94 percent or 73 out of 80 have political dynasties. In every province, there is at least two political families.

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While the Constitution prohibits political dynasties, Santiago said Congress has failed to pass the implementing law.

“The Constitution is written in stone. And yet Congress deliberately and willfully refuses to pass a law. Each member of Congress took an oath to support and defend the Constitution.  Why are we rewarding instead of punishing them?” she asked.

As she had a litany over political dynasties, Santiago spared former Las Pinas Rep. Cynthia Villar from her attacks. She said Mrs. Villar, who is seeking a Senate seat, is different from the other candidates because her breed also comes from successful female entrepreneurs.

Santiago even endorsed Mrs. Villar’s senatorial bid, expressing belief that the scion of the rich Aguilar clan of Las Pinas can even be the next female president come 2016.

Gender equality at the Senate

The feisty senator made the statement as she also emphasized the need for the Philippines to achieve gender equality in the coming May elections.

Six out of 12 senators should be female; and that in 2016, the country should again have a female president, to correct 15 years of male presidents, Santiago said.

Santiago made the statement at the 5th Filipino Entrepreneurship Summit attended by some 3,000 women yesterday (March 1) at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.  The conference began the celebration of March as International Women’s Month.

Santiago said that gender equality dictates that government positions should be divided equally between men and women.

She urged her audience to vote for “at least six qualified female candidates, so that eventually we should have at any given time 12 male and 12 female senators.”

The senator pointed out that according to the National Statistical Coordination Board, in the last 2010 elections, only 21.4 percent of those elected were women.

“The deadline for gender equality in public positions is 2015. We will be unable to meet this deadline,” she said.

Santiago added that while the Philippines has had 15 presidents, only two have been women.

“Following the logic of numbers, the Filipinos should elect a woman president in 2016, so that we can start closing the gender gap,” she said, adding that she is disqualified, because she expects to be called soon to the Netherlands as judge of the International Criminal Court.

The senator recommended a quota system for women in public service, and added that a quota system is already in place in countries such as South Africa, India, Finland, Argentina, and France.

The United Nations has declared certain Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to promote gender equality and to empower women by 2015, Santiago said.

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