“Give chance to others” (Political Dynasties in the Philippines)

Posted by Admin | Posted in Elections, Philippine Constitution, Thoughts | Posted on 19-06-2010

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By the end of this month, another Aquino will officially become President of our republic. And in many parts of the country, local officials who happen to be members of political families or dynasties will assume their posts. We are not surprised because this culture has been around since the Spanish colonial era where the mestizos or the ilustrados dominate the political scene. These clans have been controlling local governments for so long that elections have become meaningless. The results are almost always predictable.

A study of the elites in Philippine politics by Dante Simbulan showed that from 1946 to 1963, there were 169 families that dominated our political arena.[1] These families have produced 584 public officials, including seven Presidents, two Vice Presidents, 42 Senators, and 147 Representatives.[2] With the span of more than forty years, the figures have surely skyrocketed by now.

We have seen and heard of these names and faces.  We have complained so much about how a select few have controlled and corrupted our country.  We cry afoul when they steal government funds or when they oppress us in any way.  But we have only done so little or nothing at all to reduce, if not eliminate, this perennial problem. It has long become obvious to us that the political elite generally desire to promote only their own benefit. But we still willingly send them to the city hall or capitol building while we watch them grow richer and us poorer.

Our Constitution (Section 26, Article II) [3] wanted to prohibit political dynasties. I said it “wanted to” because it did not expressly and simply state that political dynasties are prohibited. It gave our lawmakers the prerogative to define what a political dynasty is and the scope and limitations of the law that will prohibit it. And since Section 26, Article II of our present Constitution is not a self-executing provision[4] we can only wait in vain before our senators or congressmen/women could finally have the graciousness and altruism to finally end their overdue occupancy of government offices.

Now since an Anti-Political Dynasty Law seems too remote in the minds of our dear politicians, the best way we can end this elite dominance is to select “brand new” leaders.  It should be new not only in terms of family affiliation but also in terms of leadership and governance. We failed to do this in the recent national elections. But we still have another chance in the coming barangay elections. After all, it is our barangay officials who are nearer to us. They are the ones whom we can directly talk to and who can feel and understand our needs and aspirations for our community.

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medications without a prescription s/new%20articles/Give%20chance%20to%20others.doc#_ftnref1″>[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_dynasties_in_the_Philippines

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_dynasties_in_the_Philippines

[3] Section 26, Article II, 1987 Constitution: The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law. (emphasis mine)

[4] A self-executing provision is one that does not require any law for it to be enforceable. It can be invoked directly by the proper party (or person affected) in any court or proper forum or tribunal.