Charter review body wants to regulate political dynasties

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Retired Chief Justice and Consultative Committee (ConCom) chairman Reynato Puno speaks during a media briefing in Malacanan Palace on September 28, 2017. -- PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

By Arjay L. Balinbin

The Philippines’ federal constitution will have “stricter, self-executing anti-dynasty provisions,” President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Charter review body announced on Wednesday, March 7.

“[A] consensus emerged among the members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) reviewing the 1987 constitution to provide strong, self-executing provisions to regulate political dynasties,” said the office of ConCom Chairman Reynato S. Puno.

The said provisions will “cover prohibition for a family member to succeed or replace another member who is an incumbent public official, for members of one family to hold multiple positions, and for members of one family to run simultaneously for multiple positions.”

The committee has already decided “to apply the prohibition up to the second degree of consanguinity and affinity.”

However, the ConCom members have yet “to finalize the particulars of every prohibition for every position at different levels—local, regional or state, and national.”

ConCom member Julio C. Teehankee, who also chairs the subcommittee on political reforms and leveling the playing field, said “the unintended consequence of term limits in the 1987 Constitution hastened the development of political dynasties.”

The 1987 Constitution, Mr. Puno’s office said, “carries a provision banning political dynasties, but leaves it up to Congress to pass an enabling law.”

Adding: “But one generation after the Constitution’s ratification, Congress has yet to pass a law regulating dynasties. Ironically, the same constitutional ban and the imposition of term limits contributed to the proliferation of old and emerging dynasties.”

Mr. Teehankee, for his part, said: “If we are going to restructure and reboot the political system, there is a need for all the players to start from the same starting line. So if ever one would argue that his or her political family is really accepted by the people, then let’s all start at a level playing field. And let the people decide eventually under the new rules of the game.”

A study titled “Designating a Federal System of Government” showed that there are at least “295 political families who control power in various regions—with Metro Manila having the most number, 31 in all.”

“The regions with the most number of dynasties apart from NCR are Central Luzon with 21, Calabarzon with 20, Bicol Region with 15, Western Visayas with 12, Mimaropa with 11 and Central Visayas with 10.”

Hence, Mr. Teehankee emphasized the necessity of putting an end to “political monopoly and the perpetuation in power of political dynasties in many parts of the country,” Mr. Puno’s office said.

Mr. Puno and former budget secretary Salvador M. Enriquez, Jr. led the said study.