Renato Tibon .
“The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public Service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” – Article II Section 26 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution
WE ratified the Constitution over 30 years ago, giving Congress authority to “guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service” and to pass an enabling law which will define in proper context, what constitutes a “political dynasty” and its prohibition. They failed, and continually are seen floundering in this constitutional delegation, nay, mandate. Look where we are now: we keep on electing the same incompetent politicians belonging to political dynasties and stymieing the chances of those who are qualified just because they belong to one.
Of course, in fairness to descendants of well-known and beloved former leaders, some did well although the politics of their day greatly affected their performance. The Quezons, Magsaysays, Osmenas, Rectos and Laurels are some of the most notable ones that easily come to mind.
A political dynasty is simply a family or group perceived to maintain power for several generations, controlling the state or a succession of rulers from the same family or line. Most Filipinos recognized that political dynasties are intrinsically evil, breeding patronage politics and corruption and are largely contributory to the decline in the country’s socio-political and economic development. Nevertheless, political adeptness and manipulations blurred the distinction and people continue to vote for dynasts regardless of their qualifications.
According to the 2018 Constitutional Commission created by President Rodrigo Duterte, “a political dynasty exists when a family whose members are related up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether xxx, xxx, maintains or is capable of maintaining political control by succession or by simultaneously running for or holding elective positions”. The CDP Proposed Federal Constitution states “Political dynasty shall be prohibited. Any person related within the 3rd degree by affinity or consanguinity to any incumbent public official elected in the immediately preceding election shall not be allowed to run for any local, state or national position.”
The Centrist position is to enact the law as mandated by the 1987 Constitution, banning the concentration of powers by the dynastic families in the barangay, local and national positions. If Congress will not again pass an enabling law, then what should be written in the revised Constitution should be self-executory.
Power. Control. Rule. These are nefarious characteristics of political dynasties and yet, legally they cannot be called as such in the absence of a statutory definition. President Duterte said his family “cannot help but be a political dynasty because its members are ‘forced’ to run.” Eventually, the populist President blames the people for electing him and his family to office and lording over the political landscape in the absence of a credible opposition in his turf, the City of Davao. Sons Paolo is District 1 representative, Sebastian is vice mayor and daughter Sara, mayor. To their constituents in Davao, the third most populous city in the country, they are its savior, deliverer and protector for without them, the city could have fallen into the hands of communists terrorizing residents.
The former mayor boasted of making Davao City “one of the safest cities by killing all of the criminals,” citing this as justification for his national drug policy. However, to many in the opposition, his murderous war on drugs, crass and controversial statements on rape and women, his disdain for American influence, Catholic church hierarchy and UN pronouncements and apparent groveling to China’s policies and even the latter’s acts of aggression in the West Philippine Sea are plainly unforgivable.
PRRD’s eldest son Paolo Z. Duterte, formerly the city’s vice mayor and recently elected congressman of the 1st District of Davao City is accused of involvement in the illegal drug trade although most of these charges are only highlighted in the mainstream media and are not prospering in courts. He is touted to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives although sister Sara, re-elected as mayor of the city said only the President can decide on the matter.
Sara Zimmerman Duterte Carpio, founding head of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional party which figured prominently during the last election, endorsing the local candidates around the country, may herself be entertaining thoughts of gunning for the presidency to replace her father. The Dutertes are of course, denying any intention with no less than the President quashing persistent rumors and dashing the hopes of their most avid supporters.
The youngest son Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, earlier seen as being reluctant in joining politics, is now vice mayor of Davao City and is poised to take over local political positions when his siblings move to national prominence.
It may not be too farfetched to assume that Veronica, Duterte’s youngest daughter with partner Honeylet Avancena, herself being improbably accused of illegal drug links will soon be joining her illustrious blood relatives in public service.
Asked about his thoughts on family dynasties in the country, PRRD replied: “That is really true. It is really not good if all belong to just one family for so many years. The problem is the people.” There, the President just passed the buck and the accountability shifted from the shoulders of our lawmakers to our own. We should then serve our collective warning: Pass the anti-political dynasty law or else.
(Renato Gica Tibon is a fellow of the Fellowship of the 300, an elite organization under Centrist Democracy Political Institute with focus on political technocracy. He holds both position as political action officer and program manager of the Institute. He is the former regional chairman for Region 10 and vice president for Mindanao of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines.)