Belmonte supports anti-dynasty bill

By Sammy F. Martin & Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Nov. 22 (PNA) — Despite having three kins holding political positions, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he is in favor of the passage of the proposed Anti-Dynasty bill, which had been approved in the committee level.

“I think we ought to be very happy that it has passed a committee, it has never done that in 15 years,” the Speaker said in a press briefing on Thursday.

Belmonte, however, stressed that although he is the House Speaker and openly expressed his favor for the passage of the measure, “I want to be as hands off as possible and not try to push anybody.”

The Speaker said the anti-dynasty bill is one the few measures which had been mentioned in the 1987 Constitution and it needs an enabling law in order to be implemented.

“Remember that it is provided for in the budget, in the Constitution of 1987 and that’s a long time ago. And during that period, when everybody was talking about it and some people have actually filed different versions of it, to the credit of the committee here, it has passed at least the committee and I think that’s a good sign,” he noted.

He, however, admitted that the proposed measure might experience rough sailing when it reaches the plenary as some congressmen are guilty of dynasty.

The Speaker said the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms headed by Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro has a long way to go as more blocking force are expected to emerge when it reaches the floor.

“A committee has only selected members and it so happens that most of the members of Congressman Castro favor the measure but when it reaches the plenary, we have 292 members of the House of Representatives who may stand and block the measure,” he pointed out.

According to the veteran lawmaker, he could not speculate how the anti-dynasty bill would go as there are 290 congressmen who will deliberate on the proposed measure.

“Many things happened nowadays which are not expected like the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which was declared unconstitutional despite two earlier jurisprudences that the same court declared it constitutional. Even I at my level cannot predict how it (anti-dynasty bill) will go. From a personal point of view, I’m in favor of it if only because the Constitution says it,” he said.

When asked on how he will deal with his daughter — concurrent Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte — and his nephew Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, who is the congressman of the 6th district of Quezon City, the Speaker said there is no problem with that and will follow if it becomes a law.

“Wala naman kaming problema dahil si Congressman Kit for instance is third degree relative. His father (brother of the Speaker) is my second degree relative. My daughter is my first degree relative, she could not follow me for any position, di pwede yun,” he explained.

The anti-dynasty bill prohibits anyone up to the second civil degree of consanguinity and affinity to run if one of the family members is currently occupying an elective position.

The approved measure also claimed that no two or more persons in the family are allowed to run in the same election.

“So my daughter is my first degree, she’s definitely covered by it. Although we have no conflict here because she was vice mayor (and) I am a Speaker. But I want to put it on record that she is a young rising political leader, ako naman an exiting political leader. If there is any let’s say a situation where it’s either she or me I will yield,” he stated. (PNA)