Bill banning political dynasties filed

MANILA, (PNA) — Lawmakers have vowed to push for the passage of the controversial anti-political dynasty bill to end what they described as “monopoly of political power by few influential families in Philippine society.”

The lawmakers led by Rep. Neri Colmenares (Party-list, Bayan Muna) said House Bill 173 brings to life the Constitutional provision stating that the State shall guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasty as may be defined by law.

“Look around you and you will see that public office, in more cases than not, has become the exclusive domain of influential families and clans,” said Colmenares, one of the bill’s authors.

The other authors of the proposed Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2013 are Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Party-list, Bayan Muna), Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus (Party-list, Gabriela), Fernando Hicap (Party-list, Anak Pawis), Antonio Tinio (Party-list, ACT Teachers), Terry Ridon (Party-list, Kabataan) and Edgardo Erice (2nd District of Caloocan City).

Colmenares said family dynasties have become so well-entrenched in Philippine politics that they have monopolized political power and public resources at almost all levels of government.

Colmenares cited a United Nations Development Programme study which revealed that of the 77 provinces covered in the Philippines, 72 provinces or 94 percent have political families.

The study added that the average number of political families per province is 2.31, meaning there are at least two dominant political clans in most of the provinces.

Colmenares said the socio-political inequities prevalent in Philippine society limit public office to members of ruling families.

“In many instances, voters, for convenience and out of cultural mind-set, look up to these economically and politically dominant families as dispensers of favors, material and otherwise, and tend to elect relatives of these politically dominant families,” Colmenares said.

Ilagan stressed the necessity for the political arena to be levelled by opening public office to persons who are equally qualified to aspire on even terms with those from dominant political families.

“We are pushing for this bill to give real teeth to the Constitutional mandate and strengthen the call for a new politics to lay the basis of greater empowerment for the greater number of Filipinos,” Ilagan said.

Under the bill, no spouse, or person related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether legitimate or illegitimate, full or half blood, to an incumbent elective official seeking re-election shall be allowed to hold or run for any elective office in the same province in the same election.

The bill provides that in case the constituency of the incumbent elective official is national in character, the above relatives shall be disqualified from running only within the same province where the former is a registered voter.

In cases where none of the candidates is related to an incumbent elective official within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, but are related to one another within the said prohibited degree, they, including their spouses, shall be disqualified from holding or running for any local elective office within the same province in the same election.

Furthermore, in all cases, no person within the prohibited civil degree of relationship to the incumbent shall immediately succeed to the position of the latter: Provided however, that this Section shall not apply to Punong Barangays or members of the Sangguniang Barangay.