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The Commission on Elections second division is set to decide on a petition to disqualify six candidates who are allegedly members of political dynasties.
Commissioner Elias Yusoph, 2nd division head, gave the petitioners and respondents five days to submit a memorandum but added that with or without it, “the case is submitted for resolution.”
During the first hearing Tuesday, lawyer Alex Lacson, who represented the petitioners, said they have nothing against the respondents but chose them “to test our legal theory using the legal grounds that we have discovered.”
“The Comelec now has the power and authority to promulgate rules and regulations under its powers under the Constitution and the Omnibus Election Code,” he said.
But Yusoph said the anti-political dynasty provision in the Constitution needs an enabling law.
- Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte,
- Dennis Pineda of Pampanga,
- Miguel and Rep. Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, and
- Rep. Rexlon and Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City.
It said the poll body can use Associate Justice Antonio Carpio's definition of political dynasty, in Navarro v Ermita, as a “phenomenon that concentrates political power and public resources within the control of a few families whose members alternately hold elective offices, deftly skirting term limits."
"We strongly believe that [the] Comelec can (use this definition). It can lawfully and validly utilize such legal definition under the above SC ruling, as Comelec's legal framework in promulgating rules and regulations, at least against those clear and obvious cases of political dynasties," the group said.
Villafuerte, who represented himself in the hearing, said Comelec does not have any jurisdiction to consider, try, hear and decide the case.
“The SC has categorically stated that without an enabling law, the Comelec can’t enforce the prohibition against political dynasties,” he said.
The Supreme Court earlier dismissed two petitions seeking to abolish political dynasties in the Philippines.
Villafuerte asked if there is dynasty when there is fighting within the family, citing his situation and that of his grandson Miguel Villafuerte who is also running for governor of Camarines Sur.
He said a political dynasty is difficult to define because the issue is complex and highly technical.
He said those against them can initiate people’s initiative to enact constitutional amendments “or a law that will define in accordance with their own thinking what a political dynasty is all about and they will have a hard time.
“The other one is that given the right of the people to elect their officials and indeed if sovereignty resides in the people, why don’t they campaign against us,” said Villafuerte.
Lacson said they accept Villafuerte’s challenge, adding that they have serious moves for people’s initiative against political dynasties.
The lawyers of other petitioners have adopted the arguments raised by Villafuerte during the hearing. Grace Padaca
In an interview after the hearing, Commissioner Grace Padaca refused to define what a political dynasty means.
“'Wag muna ako. Magiging parte siguro iyan ng aming collective decision,” she said.
She said that she will make her decision based on evidence and merits of the case.
Padaca toppled the long-ruling Dy political dynasty when she won as Isabela governor in 2004 and reelected in 2007. Her brother is now seeking for gubernatorial post in Isabela.
She said that her brother did not get any favor ever since he filed his certificate of candidacy.
Padaca also asked the public to refrain from inviting her in fora against political dynasties as she is now with the Comelec.
“Ipinapaalala ko sa kanila na hindi na po ako advocate ngayon. Nasa Commission na ako so hindi na ako dapat ipatawag sa mga anti-political dynasty fora sapagkat alam ko na darating ang panahon na pagdedesisyunan namin ang mga bagay na ito,” she said. —KG/RSJ, GMA News