Duterte backs anti-political dynasty bill but doubts Congress will approve it

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Contrary to the announcement of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday, March 20, that he supports the anti-political dynasty bill. 

He doubts, however, that it will pass Congress.

"I am for it. Ang problema, lulusot ba 'yan? (The problem is: will it pass?)," Duterte said in the grand assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, attended by municipal mayors.

He explained it's the voters themselves that look for relatives of politicians who have maxed out their terms.

"Sa atin pagkatapos mo, eh, they would ask for your son, or your wife," the President said.

Con-Com wants to regulate dynasties: The Consultative Committee formed by Duterte to revise the Constitution has voted to include in its draft charter a provision that regulates political dynasties.

In the provision, relatives within the second degree of consanguinity and affinity are barred from succeeding each other. They are also barred from running for more than one national position or one regional position.

Con-Com Chairman Reynato Puno had said the committee is fully aware that by voting for such a provision, they would be "incurring the ire of the gods in our political firmament."

But he said: "I would rather be in harm's way than our democracy, for our democracy can no longer withstand political dynasties powered by genealogy and not driven by ideology."

Why the gloomy future? While Congress is dominated by Duterte's allies, most of its legislators belong to political dynasties themselves. Down at the city and municipal level, blood relations are widely used to acquire elected seats in the government.

Experts and political scientists have flagged down the domination of political dynasties as weakening democracy. (READ: Experts suggest compromise for Congress: Regulate, not ban, dynasties)

Defenders of political dynasties, however, have invoked the people's right to vote, saying Filipinos should be allowed to choose candidates they trust—even if they all belong to the same family.

Duterte as example: President Duterte's family has been governing Davao City for a while now. His daughter Sarah, is its incumbent mayor, while his son Paolo recently resigned from his post following some controversies. – With a report from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.

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