Con-Com finalizes wording of anti-dynasty provision

Pia Ranada
Con-Com finalizes wording of anti-dynasty provision
The vote of the Consultative Committee is a step toward regulating political dynasties but will Congress, full of scions of such dynasties, adopt the body's recommendation?

MANILA, Philippines – After 4 days of intense discussion, the Consultative Committee (Con-Com) finally decided on the wording of the self-executing provision that would regulate political dynasties in the new federal constitution they will propose to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Con-Com arrived at the wording on Wednesday, March 14.

The wording is as follows:

Sec.___ The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties. 

(a) A political dynasty exists when a family whose members are related up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity whether such relations are legitimate, illegitimate, half or full blood, maintains or is capable of maintaining political control by succession or by simultaneously running for or holding elective positions.

(b) No person related to an incumbent elective official within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, as described above, can run for the same position in the immediately following election.

(c) Persons related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, as described above, are prohibited from running simultaneously for more than one national and one regional or local position.

(d) Congress may, by law, provide for additional prohibitions.

In a nutshell, the provision bans relatives from succeeding an incumbent official who is their relative. It also allows only up to two relatives to run for a national post and a local or regional post in the same election cycle, provided no relative of theirs is holding an elective post. 

The provision doesn’t cover all relatives. It covers only those who are within the second degree of consanguinity and affinity.

Those covered by the provision include:

  • Children of an official or candidate and their spouses
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Brothers, sisters, and their spouses
  • Granchildren and their spouses
  • Spouse of an official
  • Parents-in-law
  • Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and their spouses
  • Grandparents of spouse

The provision differs from its counterpart in the 1987 Constitution in that it clearly defines political dynasties and sets parameters on when members of a family are allowed to seek elective government posts.

The 1987 Constitution, in contrast, bans political dynasties but leaves it up to Congress to define dynasties and how they are to be prohibited.

Congress, often dominated by members of political dynasties, has yet to pass such a law.

It’s important to note that all of the Con-Com’s decisions, including this anti-dynasty provision, are recommendatory in nature. In the end, Congress will decide whether or not to adopt their proposal.

‘Ire of the gods’

Con-Com Chairman Reynato Puno welcomed the wording of the provision.

“With our vote today, they (political dynasties) shall be omnipotent no more,” he said.

Puno explained in his speech why the committee decided not to completely ban dynasties.

By covering only relatives within the second degree of consanguinity and affinity “we were able to fix the right balance between the right of the people to elect and the right of the people to be elected.”

He also pointed out that the last part of the prohibition allows even this to be adjusted “according to the necessities of the time.”

“If the balance needs to be moved to include the 3rd and 4th degree of relationship by consanguinity and affinity, we have empowered Congress to do so,” said the former Supreme Court chief justice.

He expects fierce opposition by certain politicians to the Con-Com’s proposal but declared this should not stop the committee from prioritizing the welfare of the Filipino people.

“I do not give a nanosecond thought to the possibility that in voting to regulate political dynasties, we shall be incurring the ire of the gods in our political firmament,” he said.

“As for me, I would rather be in harm’s way that our democracy, for our democracy can no longer withstand political dynasties powered by genealogy and not driven by ideology,” Puno added.

Political dynasties, he said, have “diluted, defaced, and desecrated” the right of the people to free elections and have denied many the chance to get elected to public office “simply because they have the wrong blood in their bodies.”

Concentrated power and resources in one family has also bred government corruption and poverty, said Puno, citing studies presented to the committee.

Another Con-Com member, Ali Pangalian Balindong, who himself is part of a political dynasty in Lanao del Sur, voted in favor of regulating dynasties.

“After listening to the deliberations and to former chief justice Puno, I have decided to be part of history. I am for the banning of political dynasties in this country,” he said.

Among those instrumental in moving forward the committee’s discussions on the provision were former De La Salle University dean Julio Teehankee who said banning political dynasties was his “life’s work.”

The finalization of the provision, he said on Monday, is “a big victory for the cause of reform.” – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.