Anti-dynasty: Will measure get approval from Senate?

Christina Mendez, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - With 21 out of 24 senators having close relatives in government, will the chamber pass the bill banning political dynasties?

The Senate on Saturday said it would soon start debates on the measure bypassed by previous Congresses.

Based on their 2013 statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), 21 senators have immediate relatives serving in the government either as elected officials or members of their staff.

Senators Loren Legarda and Gregorio Honasan listed no relatives in government. Neither do they have members of their immediate families in their office staff.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, who hails from a political clan in Cebu, also left the section where declarants are asked to name their relatives in government service within the fourth degree of consanguinity.

Senate President Franklin Drilon has one cousin elected into office and four other relatives in key government posts.

Drilon’s brother, Julius, is regional hospital chief of the Corazon Montelibano Medical Center. A sister, Eleonor Gregorio, is director of the Government Service Insurance System while sister-in-law Carol Drilon works as resident physician at the Philippine Heart Center.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is also a cousin of Drilon’s while the Senate president’s son, Patrick, is a legislative officer at the Senate.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto’s actress-wife, Vilma, is Batangas governor.

Recto has two relatives working at the provincial capitol and two more at the Senate.

In the present batch of senators, there are two pairs of siblings namely Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano, and Jinggoy Estrada and his half-brother Joseph Victor (JV) Ejercito.

Alan’s wife, Maria Laarni, is mayor of Taguig while another Cayetano sibling, Lino Edgardo, is representative of the second district of Taguig.

Jessa Coronel, a cousin by affinity, also works as legislative service officer at Pia Cayetano’s office at the Senate.

Estrada and Ejercito listed Laguna Gov. Emilio Ejercito, who is being ousted from his post by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), as their relative.

Estrada’s daughter Janella is a councilor of San Juan. On the other hand, Ejercito’s mother Guia is mayor of the city.

President Aquino’s own cousin, Sen. Bam Aquino, is now a member of the Senate. Another cousin, Antolin Oreta, is mayor of Malabon while an uncle-in-law, Dr. Jose Luis Gomez, is commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission.

Dr. Vicente Gomez, Sen. Aquino’s father-in-law, is a division head at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center.

Another first degree cousin, Jacqueline Suzzane Aquino Gavino, is a member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

Sen. Sonny Angara, a son of former senator Edgardo Angara, listed three relatives in public office. They are Aurora Vice Gov. Rommel Angara (cousin); Aurora Rep. Bellaflor Angara- Castillo (aunt) and Baler vice mayor Karen Angara (cousin).

Sen. Nancy Binay has three members of her family in politics including her father, Vice President Jejomar Binay; brother, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, and sister, Rep. Mar-Len Binay Alcantara.

Another sister, Marita Angeline Binay Alcantara, is director of administration and finance at the Office of the Vice President. A first cousin, Maribel Cathrina Dinapawi, is an executive assistant.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, wife of former Senate president Manny Villar, comes from a well-entrenched political clan in Las Piñas.

Villar’s son, Mark, is a congressman while her brother Vergel Aguilar is Las Piñas City mayor. Four other relatives are also occupying local posts.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s SALN for 2013 showed that she has six relatives in government including her cousin, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr., and nephew Arthur Jr., a congressman.

Estrellita Suansing, Santiago’s cousin-in-law, is also a congresswoman while Evelyn Rojo is a state auditor and Vivian Suansing is a division chief at the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile listed his daughter-in-law, Salvacion Ponce Enrile, who is a congresswoman.

Sen. Francis Escudero’s mom, Evelina, succeeded his late father as congressman of the first district of Sorsogon. He also has two paternal uncles and a cousin occupying elected posts in the province.

Sought for comment, Escudero said he will inhibit once any anti-dynasty measure is debated at the Senate. He, however, will have to vote for the measure once it is elevated to the plenary.

“Will national (candidates) prevail over local ones?” Escudero asked, noting that infighting is also common in some political families.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III’s sister, Estella, is mayor of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental. His cousin, Benjamin Guingona III, is a councilor in Zamboanga City.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, is now Ilocos Norte representative while his sister, Imee, is Ilocos Norte governor.

Two first cousins are also elected in local posts.

Sen. Lito Lapid’s two sons, a daughter and a brother are also in government service.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, whose committee on electoral reforms will conduct hearings on the anti-dynasty measure, has eight relatives assigned at the Senate and other offices.

Sen. Grace Poe has only two relatives in the government who are appointed as members of her staff at the Senate.

Sen. Bong Revilla’s actress-wife, Lani, is congresswoman in Cavite while his brother, Strike, is mayor of Bacoor. The senator’s son, Jolo, is vice governor of Cavite while his two sisters and two half brothers are also holding posts in the province.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III has two daughters as part of his Senate staff, and another daughter and a son are councilors in Quezon City.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has a brother appointed as member of his personal staff at the Senate and a sister-in-law, Pia Jane Trillanes, assigned with the Commission on Appointments.

JV’s bill

Ironically, it was JV Ejercito who filed Senate Bill 1906 that seeks to guarantee equal access and opportunity to public office and service by prohibiting political dynasties.

Under his proposed law, no spouse or relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official seeking re-election shall be allowed to hold or run for any position in the same province in the same election.

The same relatives of an incumbent elective national official shall also be disqualified from running in the same province where the latter is a registered voter.

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