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Aquino allies want House to tackle bill vs political dynasties


Lawmakers aligned with the ruling Liberal Party (LP) on Thursday called on the House of Representatives to start discussions on bills banning political dynasties in the country.
 
Caloocan Rep. Mary Mitzi Cajayon described as “grotesque” the continuing rise of political dynasties in the Philippines, which she said is a clearl violation of the 1987 Constitution.
 
“The perpetuation of political dynasties can undermine the quality of democracy and economic development. This political phenomenon in the country has, in fact, engendered inequality which tends to further the vicious cycle of poverty of our people,” Cajayon said in a statement.
 
She added that many studies have already proven that political dynasties “can lead to extreme personalism in the exercise of power” and may “undermine the implementation of wide-ranging public policies.”
 
Cajayon filed House Bill 6660 earlier this month seeking to prohibit the establishment of political dynasties in the country.
 
In her bill, the lawmaker specifically wants to ban spouses and family members of up to second degree of consanguinity or affinity from running in any elective office in the same province during the same elections.
 
Article II Section 26 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that: "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law."
 
More than two decades since the ratification of the Charter, however, Congress has yet to pass an enabling law defining what a "political dynasty" is.
 
A study by Professor Ronald Mendoza of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center showed that 68 percent of the current 287 House members come from political dynasties. 
 
President Benigno Aquino III, who chairs the administration party, himself comes from a political clan. He is the son of the late President Corazon Aquino and the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
The two legislative districts of Tarlac, the incumbent President’s home province, are currently represented by his uncle, Rep. Enrique Cojuangco (1st district) and his cousin, Jeci Aquino Lapus (2nd district).
 
A GMA News Research study in 2010 revealed that by 2013, the Cojuangco political clan would have held the congressional post in Tarlac’s first district for 35 straight years.   
Other lawmakers from known political clans, such as Auroroa Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara and San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito, however, have defended political dynasties by saying that they are not always bad for the country and even ensure the continuity of projects in certain areas.  
Define political dynasties
 
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., LP deputy spokesperson, likewise said that he wants the House committee on electoral reforms and suffrage to start hearings on bills against political dynasties.
 
“Kailangan hindi ma-concentrate sa political elite ang political power. This is probably one of the reasons why medyo hindi progressive ang political systems dito,” Baguilat told reporters at a separate briefing.
 
The congressman added that for him, a political dynasty is formed when relatives or spouses occupy elective positions in the same region, province or municipality.
 
Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, LP spokesperson, for his part said that a hearing on anti-dynasty bill should center on the definition of a political dynasty.
 
“Dapat hindi tayo takot pag-usapan ito. What are the permutations that are possible? What should be prohibited? What can be allowed? These are the things that Congress should not skirt away from but start the discussions,” Tañada said.
 
Aside from Cajayon, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño also filed a House bill against political dynasties, which has been pending before the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms since October 2010.
 
The Senate has already started committee hearings on its version of the anti-dynasty bill, authored by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. — RSJ, GMA News