Bicam drops anti-dynasty provision in Bangsamoro bill

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The joint panel finalizing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law has deleted the measure's anti-dynasty provision.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and 3 other members of the bicameral conference committee confirmed this to Rappler on Monday, July 9, during the first day of closed-door deliberations. 

The contingent of the bicam initially discussed the deletion without Drilon, who pushed for it during the Senate discussions. Members, however, decided to wait for Drilon before finalizing the removal.

Drilon later on arrived and reportedly did not oppose the majority’s decision, supposedly saying he would not defend the provision in the Senate bill, as it is “absolutely nothing” and lacks teeth. There is no counterpart line in House Bill 6475. (READ: Experts suggest compromise for Congress: Regulate, not ban, dynasties)

In a separate text message, Drilon said he did not argue for the adoption as a sign of protest and because the provision is "useless."

"The adoption of the supposed anti-dynasty provision in the Senate version was strongly opposed by some members of the panel. As a form of protest, I did not argue and push for its adoption anymore because the provision, as crafted, is useless. It is a much weaker provision than that provided in the SK law," Drilon said in a text message, referring to the Sangguniang Kabataan law.

"Such provision will not really curb dynastic behaviors. In fact, it is a hypocritical provision, toothless to address the ill effects of dynasties. We might as well do away with it. What we need is a strong regulation of dynasties applicable to all public officers. I already signed a committee report regulating it," Drilon added.

Section 15 of Senate Bill 1717 states that “no Party Representative should be related within the second (2nd) civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to a District Representative or another Party Representative in the same Parliament.”

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said the House contingent called the Senate’s attention to the “constitutional infirmity” of the provision, citing the violation of equal protection clause.

Fariñas said the provision in the proposed BBL is different from that in the SK law because the latter applies to all youth councils in the whole country without distinction.

“It’s like a law creating a province and imposed a dynasty prohibition only to a certain elective position to the exclusion of the others in that province, in particular, and to the whole country, in general,” Fariñas told reporters.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), some members of which belong to political families, has strongly opposed it.

In a previous Senate hearing, members of the BTC opposed the inclusion, saying it is another “experiment” in the region. They said it is a “clear violation of equal protection clause” or the right of every person to vote and be voted.

They questioned why it would only be implemented in the Bangsamoro when it is mandated in the 1987 Constitution.

Politicians, not constituents, want dynasties

But Ateneo School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza had said there is a need for an anti-dynasty provision in the draft BBL or else the Bangsamoro state would be another failure just like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which it seeks to replace.

Citing data, Mendoza earlier said 3 of the 5 poorest provinces in the country come from ARMM, and they have a high share of “fat dynasties” or political families whose members are in several elective positions all at the same time. These are Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu.

Source: Mendoza's presentation on Thursday, February 15

Mendoza said the opposition to a dynasty ban does not come from the public but from politicians that would be directly affected.

“The people there can no longer challenge leaders because they have captured everything. Your education, healthcare, job – they're leaving everything up to traditional politics, political clans. So the people would not speak out and say they are against fat dynasty. We cannot expect them to fight. We must fight for them,” he said in mix of English and Filipino during a Senate hearing in February. 

It is not the first time that such a provision would be introduced in a law, however. Republic Act 10742, or the Sangguniang Kabataan reform law, prohibits relatives of government officials up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity from running for the youth councils. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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