Anti-political dynasty bills up for plenary debates

Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - February 16, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — After just one hearing on the various anti-dynasty bills, the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes is now ready to start the plenary debates on the measure.

The committee chairman, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said he would consult with Sen. Leila de Lima, the chairperson of the committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation before convening a technical working group to craft the committee report on the anti-political dynasty bill.

Pangilinan said he expects his colleagues in the Senate to be receptive to the measure as had previous Senates when anti-political dynasty bills were taken up.

He said the bill should not be too complicated since it would merely define what a political dynasty is and up to what degree of consanguinity would be covered.

“It will probably be just a one-page bill or one-page committee report only because all we have to do is define what is a political dynasty and who will be covered. My sense is that the senators are open to an anti-dynasty (law),” Pangilinan said.

In the past, the Senate has approved an anti-political dynasty bill but this never made any progress because of the lack of support from the House of Representatives.

Pangilinan said the challenge would be to come up with a bill that would be acceptable to more legislators from the House since they would be the most affected by the proposed law.

“Why will anyone participate in his own beheading? So we will have to see what would gain the most support in this effort to regulate or prohibit dynasties,” he said.

During yesterday’s hearing, Ateneo de Manila University School of Government dean Ronald Mendoza noted “fat” dynasties, which refer to areas where there are at least three elected officials from the same family, have increased since 2007 and most could be found in poor provinces.

A study conducted by Mendoza and his team showed that in the position of governor, the dynastic share went up from less than 70 percent in 2007 to 81.3 percent in 2016.

The same was true for the positions of vice governor, representative, mayor and vice mayor, which showed increases from 71 to 81 percent; 75.3 to 77.5 percent; 57.6 to 68.8 percent, and 40.6 to 56.9 percent respectively.

Based on the study, Mendoza noted the poorest provinces in the country have the most entrenched dynasties such as Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, ranked the top two.

Mendoza clarified the fat dynasties were not confined to Mindanao, but in other provinces in Luzon and the Visayas, particularly those which do not have middle class residents.

He cited the presence of fat dynasties in Bulacan, Batangas, Ilocos Sur, Northern Samar, Sarangani, Western and Eastern Samar, Masbate and Negros Oriental among others.

Mendoza said there is also a direct relation between poverty and fat dynasties. It was in areas where fat dynasties ruled that greater poverty was recorded among residents.

“So in areas where there are many poor residents, they have 20, 12, 10 out of 25 positions that are theirs (dynasties),” he said.

In these areas, Mendoza noted the democratic principles such as checks and balances do not exist because a political clan has control of both the executive and legislative branches of local government.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said he has always been against political dynasties because “power, whether economic or political, should not be monopolized.”

“I have always advocated the anti-political dynasty. I believe in giving a chance to others who are willing to serve but don’t have the name or means to get elected. We are 100 million strong, I am sure there are others who are equally capable,” Ejercito said.

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