Family affair or dynasty?

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

The proceedings in the next Senate will become a family affair if the following personalities win in next year’s elections: Mark Villar, Jinggoy Estrada, JV Ejercito, Alan Peter Cayetano and Jejomar Binay.

Recently resigned public works secretary Mark Villar would be seated next to his mother Cynthia, an incumbent senator.

It would be the same for Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, whose sister Pia is also an incumbent senator.

Former vice president Jejomar Binay would be by the side of his daughter Nancy, whose term ends in 2025.

The two squabbling half-brothers, Estrada and Ejercito, would make up another filial tandem.

The Villars, Cayetanos, Binays and Ejercitos would make up one-third of the 24-member august body.

*      *      *

The New Constitution signed by president Corazon C. Aquino prohibited political dynasties “as may be defined by law.”

The clause “as may be defined by law” is the clincher for why political dynasties are allowed.

Congress, from the time of Ms. Cory Aquino up to the present, has not passed an enabling law that would have barred members of a family from holding elected positions at the same time.

So, it’s very common in the Philippines to see a father who is a mayor, with his child as his vice mayor, his wife as the congresswoman and the mayor’s and congresswoman’s grandchildren holding positions in the town council.

It’s an ordinary phenomenon in the country to see a son replacing his father as mayor, a daughter taking the place of her father whose term has ended and a wife taking the place of her husband who ran for a higher position and won.

Only in the Philippines.

*      *      *

The vice-presidential race is a tight one, so tight it will end up in a photo finish.

Each of the candidates vying for the country’s No. 2 post would win hands down if they didn’t have very strong rivals.

Senate President Tito Sotto, who’s running under the banner of fellow senator Panfilo Lacson, has a very wide political base among the masses because of his fame as a TV personality. He is known as a hard-working head of the august body.

Buhay party list Representative and Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza, who is Manny Pacquiao’s runningmate, is another formidable candidate. Big religious groups like El Shaddai, the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Muslims, as well as people against abortion, compose his political base.

Dr. Willy Ong, Isko Moreno’s runningmate, is considered a “doctor of the masses.” As we all know, the masses – composed of the lower middle class and the poor – comprise the majority of the population.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan is another very strong contender because his wife, megastar Sharon Cuneta, would campaign for him. As we all know, Pangilinan became a senator because of Sharon.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go has the overseas Filipinos, the poor who have benefited from his brainchild Malasakit Centers, and the DDS (Duterte Diehard Supporters) as his mass base. Go, a neophyte, placed third in the 2019 senatorial race because he is an aide-de-camp of President Digong Duterte.

*      *      *

The government prosecutors in Dasmariñas, Cavite may want to brush up on new laws, especially the new law on rape.

Rodolfo T. Lopez Jr. filed a case of acts of lasciviousness, instead of rape, against the father-son tandem of Oliver Paul Bermejo, 36, and Leonardo Bermejo, 64, for sexually abusing two children, aged 8 and 9.

Lopez’s resolution was approved by Joy Marie Frances C. Cortes, officer-in-charge of the Dasmariñas Prosecutor’s Office.

Leonardo is the grandfather of the two children, while Paul is their uncle.

The parents placed the two children under the care of their grandpa Leonardo and uncle Paul.

The Bermejo father and son sexually assaulted the girls on many occasions by making the kids do lewd acts on them.

I don’t want to mention here what the two men did to their two wards because the acts were too gross and graphic.

One of the children was found in the medico-legal examination with a lacerated hymen, yet the case filed against the Bermejos was only acts of lasciviousness.

The children said the father-son duo tried but failed to penetrate their sex organs.

Under the new rape law (R.A. 8353, passed in 1997), even if the male organ only touched the woman’s in a failed attempt to penetrate her, that’s rape.

So says veteran trial lawyer Artemio Amon.

Isumbong mo kay Tulfo sought Amon’s help so the charges against the Bermejos would be rape, instead of acts of lasciviousness.

The girls’ parents had sought our help.

The Bermejos were allowed to post bail of P200,000 each for the acts of lasciviousness charges.

Rape is a non-bailable offense.

*      *      *

Many criminal offenders got away scot-free even if the evidence against them was strong because government prosecutors who handled the preliminary investigation were either too lazy or dull to scrutinize the cases filed in their offices.

It’s high time prosecutors are given a refresher course every now and then, to keep them abreast of new laws or make them review the old ones.

I’ve been to many prosecutors’ offices to answer summons for libel complaints against me, and I find many government prosecutors intellectually inadequate.

Some of them filed libel cases against me and other journalists in court when those cases should have been dismissed from their end.

Lack of malice on the part of the journalist who wrote an article that offended an aggrieved public official is enough basis to dismiss the libel case.

Some prosecutors (formerly called fiscals) are too dense to know that journalists are guardians of public welfare and, as such, can play an adversarial role in governance.

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