Filtered By: News

Signature drive vs political dynasties to be launched in February

(Updated 4:38 p.m.) A signature campaign for a people's initiative against political dynasties is set to be launched in February next year, months before the May 2013 midterm elections. Norman Cabrera, secretary general of Ang Kapatiran Party, the group that will spearhead the campaign, announced this on Thursday during their planning conference for their "Kilusan ng 99 percent (K99)" drive. “At the end of the day, ang isang sitwasyon na kinahaharap ng isang botante ay isang sitwasyon na wala siyang choice kundi iboto ang mga candidates who are all members of political dynasties. Isang realidad 'yan," Cabrera said. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is now working on the form of the petition for their initiative drive, Cabrera said.   The group forwarded to the Comelec a letter of request for the petition last August. The poll body's law department, in response, informed them the en banc will tackle it next week. Ready by February “That means we anticipate that by December or at the latest January, Comelec should have prescribed the form… We should be able to launch the signature campaign by February,” Cabrera told GMA News Online after the hearing. A people's initiative is to a constitutional method of amending the Constitution or a law through a signature campaign and a referendum. Under Republic Act 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Act of 1989, private citizens can push for national legislation by having it signed by at least 10 percent of all registered voters and at least three percent in every legislative district. Once the petition is filed with the Comelec, a referendum must be held within 45 to 90 days. According to the book “In Search of Credible Elections and Parties: The Philippine Paradox” by UP Prof. Temario Rivera, a political clan is defined as "having at least two members of the same family who have won political positions from 1987 to 2010; and an individual who have won at least three times who have relatives who have been previously elected in the post-war period." The Philippine Constitution prohibits political dynasties as enabled by law, but Congress has yet to pass an anti-political dynasty law. Cabrera said that with institutional support they should finish the campaign by March or April. 5 million signatures Reached for a comment, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said they would tackle the petition for a form on Tuesday. He, however, noted that there is no law that requires the Comelec to draft a form of the petition. "Because there was a formal request given by Kapatiran... That’s the only reason. In fact there is no law that requires us to put a form," Brillantes told reporters Friday when asked why the en banc will tackle the request. He added that Kapatiran would need to gather 5 million signatures before having a referendum. Brillantes expressed his doubts that the signature campaign would be finished in time for the 2013 polls. "Masuwerte na if they could reach May... It cannot be done seven, eight, nine months (time)." "It's very difficult for us to go into a people's initiative simultaneously with the elections... If there will be people's initiative, baka magmanual na ang balota," he added. Kapatiran's Cabrera agreed, saying they are aiming to launch the signature drive as part of their campaign against political dynasties. "A referendum can no longer be simultaneously conducted in the 2013 elections. There is no more time. But what we are saying is since the resources of the signature campaign is undertaken during the campaign period, this will have an impact on voter's education and their ability to choose the right candidates for office," Cabrera said. “Government privatization” Kapatiran president JC Delos Reyes, the party’s senatorial candidate for the 2013 elections, said political dynasties “privatize” the government. “Political dynasties are government privatization at its best,” said Delos Reyes, an unsuccessful presidential aspirant in the 2010 elections. “For the past five presidents, they desecrated the Constitution by allowing their family members to run or to hold office just because there is no enabling law.” He described the political system dominated by major political parties and its political dynasties as a "dictatorship." "It’s a dictatorship – Binay, Erap, Noynoy, Enrile – lahat sila d'yan. They dictate the party. They buy the party," Delos Reyes said. Delos Reyes, however, admitted that he too belongs to a political family. His mother, Barbara Delos Reyes, is the sister of former Senator Richard Gordon, who also ran for president in 2010. The Gordons are a political family in Olongapo. "By the way, I am from a dynasty... Ang kaibahan, way back 1995 I could have been mayor, I could have been whatever there (Olongapo). I chose to organize way back a political party that is anti-dynasty," Delos Reyes said. He said he has already “rejected” his family roots. “Long before, I have rejected my family and embraced an anti-political party.”   “The difference between my family and me is that they allow our relatives to run for office. I am ashamed of that,” Delos Reyes added. He also said he no longer talks or deals with the Gordon family. — KBK, GMA News