In response to clamors against political dynasties on elected positions, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago introduced Senate Bill 2649 also Anti-Political Dynasty Act. In a committee hearing convened by the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and Peoples Participation headed by Senator Aquilino Pimentel, the bill was discussed.
Senate Bill No. 2649 states that political dynasty “shall exist when a person who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official or 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 province or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent official.”
“It shall also be deemed to exist where two or more persons who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective public office within the same province, even if neither is so related to an elective official,” the bill further read.
Political Dynasties have long been present in democratic states, such as the Philippines, wherein inequality in the distribution of power may result to defective representation among local and national levels monopolized by influential families and clans.
Philippine society has established the significant existence of extended family structure. However, such acceptance of system when applied in the political sphere marks exclusive benefits for political clans in certain regions of the country which results to reproduction of power among generations motivated by personal interests.
Political dynasty must be precisely defined by legislative bodies. It should be noted that Sec. 26, Article 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution clearly provides that the State must assure equal access to public service and political dynasty should be prohibited. However, status quo allows political dynasty as an accepted practice by politicians for as long as they consciously advocate for the wellness of their constituencies. Thus, at the end of the day, equal representation is compromised.
As political clans stay longer in power, they continuously enhance their political terrain until they have entrenched such political clout and influence. And because of this, socio-economic and political injustice is widespread that results to limiting public office to members of the ruling and influential clans. Hence, such concentration of power opens several channels for corruption.
Although Comelec acknowledges such an issue as a valid means to effect positive change on the country’s electoral system, a clear definition and scope on political dynasty must first be established.
The existence of political dynasties does not solely rely on the idea of continuous reproduction or self-perpetuation. There are other significant factors to be considered such as wealth, charisma, talent and familial capacity to govern that associate political success. It should be considered that there were formal political powers established by previous relatives that impacted the image of the family/clan itself.
Election allows everyone to participate and engage in public service. Having this bill passed, it may limit the chance of electorates to scrutinize members of political dynasties who may have potential ability to deliver good public service. Furthermore, it does not rationalize the idea of disallowing persons with genuine interest to serve the public just because they belong to an influential family.
The current political situation in the Philippines brought by political dynasties is undoubtedly intolerable. However, it would take political maturity in the part of the voting public to eradicate such traditional political practice.
On the other hand, politicians must require themselves the moral ascendancy to identify whether or not their relatives are well-experienced and equipped in running for an elective post.
In the end, as electorates, what the Philippine society expects from its people is the political maturity they can contribute for the country. Only voters can stop political dynasty.
Presently, Sen. Pimentel does not think it will be passed before the 2013 elections. They will schedule up to two more committee hearings on the bill.
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