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Anti-dynasty bill hurdles House committee level in ‘historic’ vote

Political families, beware.

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reform on Wednesday passed the consolidated bill that seeks to limit the political power exerted by individual families.

The committee unanimously voted to approve the Anti-political Dynasty Act of 2013, which seeks to prohibit relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity to hold or run for both national and local posts in successive, simultaneous, or overlapping terms.

The bill however, exempts barangay officials from the rule.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, co-author of the consolidated bill, called the vote “historic.”

“For the first time an anti-dynasty bill has reached the committee level and has been approved," he said. "As far as I know, as early as 2001, a similar measure was proposed but it never made it past first reading,” he told reporters.

Under the measure, no spouse or person related within the second civil degree of consanguinity, or affinity to an incumbent elective official seeking reelection, shall be allowed to hold or run for any local or national elective office in the same elections.

The measure also covers illegitimate and half-blood relatives.

Tinio is optimistic that the measure will pass, thanks in part to the desire of the public for greater transparency in government.

“When we first advocated for the abolition of PDAF, eh pinagtatawanan kami rito. No one took us seriously, suntok [daw] sa buwan. Now, because of the power of public mobilization, we've seen what that has achieved so far," he said.

"I believe the same can be done with regard to political dynasties,” he added.

Constitutional mandate

In the proposed bill, a prospective candidate in a local or national election will be required to file a sworn statement with the COMELEC professing absence of any political dynasty relationship with an incumbent official running for an elective post.

Should it pass, the proposed measure is meant to serve as the enabling law of Article II Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines that reads: "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law."

Following its passage at the committee level, the bill must hurdle plenary debates and deliberations, a step its authors admit could be difficult.

Tinio admitted that their main challenge could well be the personal interests of lawmakers, many of whom have relatives in elected office.

“Clearly the biggest obstacle would be the vested interest of the current members of the House, and the Senate as well as the executive. Practically all elective positions, in many cases, the incumbents belong to political dynasties. So that's the main obstacle, the vested interests right now,” Tinio said.

However, the solon, who is part of the Makabayan bloc in the minority, said he is hopeful that popular support for the measure will allow it to pass, just as public support for the scrapping of the pork barrel was instrumental to the Congress’ decision to remove the congressional lump sum from the proposed 2014 National Budget.

“The key here, as we've seen in our experience in the struggle against the pork barrel system, is public support, so we hope that the momentum of the anti-pork movement will translate to support of the anti-dynasty bill into law,” Tinio said. — BM, GMA News