Anti-political dynasty
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - July 4, 2019 - 12:00am

A lot of us have been clamoring  for the  putting of an end to political dynasties for decades,  but nothing has happened. Bills not allowing relatives, legitimate and illegitimate, to hold elective positions  at the same time have not seen the light of day. Husbands, their wives, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, brothers, in-laws, sons, daughters, grandchildren, have run – and won –  some even fighting each other – in the national and local elections. The main reason is said to be that they have the right to run. 

I say it’s greed that sustains the political dynasty practitioners’ raison d’etre. 

Critics  view the monopoly of power by political dynasties as disabling the less moneyed but certainly in many cases, more intelligent and competent, to govern from vying for a government seat.

While some political dynasties have been overthrown by tired electors in the 2019 elections, new names have cropped up – of families now occupying government positions in Congress, and the local governance scenes. 

I am heartened by Sen. Franklin Drilon’s filing of an anti-dynasty bill in the 18th Congress.  The  Anti-Political Dynasty Act tops the list of measures that  the Senate Minority Leader vows to work for in the 18th Congress, as he urges Congress to fulfill its constitutional duty to end political dynasties. 

Drilon’s bill, Senate Bill No. 11, seeks to prohibit the spouse or relatives of an incumbent elective official seeking re-election to hold or run for any elective office in the same province in the same election. 

“No less than the Constitution mandates the State to guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law,” Drilon’s media bureau reports. 

Drilon has long pushed for an enabling law that will implement the provision of the Constitution prohibiting political dynasties. 

“This is because even after more than 30 years since the ratification of the Constitution, the Congress has repeatedly failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to enact an enabling anti-political dynasty law.” 

“The Constitution entrusted to Congress the duty to end political dynasties. Unfortunately, we have failed in our duty and, hence, political dynasty still persists and so does poverty,” Drilon said, underscoring the ill effects of political dynasties. 

“Studies have clearly established the relation between poverty and political dynasties. Most of the poorest provinces and municipalities in the country are ruled by dynastic relationships,” Drilon said, citing the situation in provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu in Mindanao.

“Research has found that dynastic concentration has a significant negative effect on the upliftment of local living standards, noting that lack of real political competition leads to flawed policies,” he added.

Drilon remains hopeful that the measure will have the support of the 18th Congress. Otherwise he will just be another Don Quixote.

 Drilon explained that under his bill, “a political dynasty is deemed to exist when a person who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official or a relative within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent elective official within the same city and/or province or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective official.

“Such policy seeks to level the playing field in the political arena pursuant to  the cornerstone of our country’s governmental ideology – democracy,” he added.

In SBN 11, no spouse, or person related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether legitimate or illegitimate, full or half blood, to an incumbent elective official seeking re-election shall be allowed to hold or run for any elective office in the same province in the same election.

In case the constituency of the incumbent elective official is national in character, the above relatives shall be disqualified from running only within the same province where the former is a registered voter.

 “The bill also seeks to ban any person within the prohibited civil degree of relationship to the incumbent to succeed to the position of the latter,” Drilon explained.

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Tenor Dr. Ramon Acoymo has returned from a concert in Yangon, Myanmar held to celebrate “National Heritage Month” at the Philippine embassy there last May under the auspices of Ambassador “Red” Kapunan at the Hotel Melia. His pianist was Consul Stephanie Cruz, a three-time winner of the CCP National Music Competition for Young Artists. He then proceeded to hold seven voice workshops in Myanmar and in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

This July,  “Montet”, as he is popularly called, is slated to essay the World Premiere performance of a vocal piece sung by a single tenor - in the formidable task of musically re-creating several “vocal characterizations”. Entitled “The Eight Wine Deities’ Song”, the work is composed by George Sy Ong (for his pieces on  poetry by DuFu).  George is a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) student-recitalist at the St. Paul University under the advisership of National Artist for Music Dr. Ramon Santos. 

Prof. Montet is also slated to be a keynote speaker at the ICAPAS International Conference for Arts Education in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in October; and give a concert of Philippine Vocal Music at the Mahidol University in Salaya, Thailand in November. 

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Expected to be the Baguio City of the south in the near future is Sitio Civoleg in Barangay Lunotan, some 20 kilometers away from Gingoog. 

Civoleg is a wide expanse of rolling hills atop a mountain – along the national highway – between Gingoog and Claveria (which leads to Cagayan de Oro City). The climate is pleasantly cool, there’s a race to acquire lots there. A highway stopper is a restaurant called Europe Cuisine. Say Civoleg, and what comes to mind is Europe Cuisine. Gingoog residents go up there as it’s about the only memorable eating place in Gingoog. Two go-to places, though simpler,  in the laid back city are Fusion and Viera Café. 

Europe Cuisine is owned and run by Elda Gomez and  her husband Jose Maria Rangel, a Spanish-Australian who had been in the construction business for decades. They met in Cebu in 1994 at a restaurant and pension house called Kukuk’s Nest where Elda was front desk manager, and Jose, a gallant tourist. It was love at first sight; a week after they met, they got married, and moved to Australia.

They returned to the Philippines a year later, and in 2004, moved to Gingoog, Elda’s hometown. They put up a two-story house on Guanzon street, and opened a small resto called Fusion on the first floor. There they made their fusion – just a bit of stylized Filipino food and European cuisine. “I really did not know how to cook good, but I learned along the way,” Elda said. Jose cooked and baked – bread, pizza, burgers, sausages and bacon, and she chicken mozzarella, spaghetti and salad.  Then they went back to Australia, and upon their return, bought a one-hectare property in Civoleg.  (Fusion in Gingoog,  is now run by a Filipina and a former Irish educator.) “I only thought to build a coffee shop, but people,  Balikbayans and foreigners came for lunch or dinner,  so we expanded our menu,” said Elda, a tanned, long-haired Gingoognon.

The restaurant offers European dishes, from Chicken Cordon Bleu to Risoto, Chicken Portuguese, to rib eye pepper steak (the most popular dish). It serves Filipino and European breakfast, organic salad and pastas.  I liked the puttanesca pizza.

Elda supervises the kitchen staff and the cash registers, while Jose takes care of the surroundings – planting all sorts of flowers and herbs grown in a greenhouse, and currently supervising the construction of  what promises  to be a nice buffet area.

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