The Senate in the first Congress established after the Edsa Revolt passed an antipolitical dynasty measure drafted shortly after the ratification of the 1987 Constitution that called for such a move, the author of the measure told the Senate committee on electoral reforms Thursday.
Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., a senator in the 8th Congress and the author of Senate Bill No. 82 in 1987, said that a week after the Senate approved his antidynasty bill, a House leader told him that the chamber would not approve the measure.
“The bill passed the Senate. Sixteen votes affirmative, four votes against and one abstention. It can be done through legislation. The problem was in the House,” Guingona disclosed.
“After one week, someone from the rules committee of the House of Representatives came to see me and explained that there were so many inter-relatives among the congressmen that it would be next to impossible to have it successfully approved in the House so they would have to just put it aside,” he added.
Guingona said he told the congressman, who would later become senator, that the Senate could do nothing else about the antidynasty measure if the House would not pass it.
“We believe that after 25 years, the problem has gotten worse instead of getting better,” Guingona told the committee, chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.
Guingona, 84, the father and namesake of incumbent Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, made the remarks as the Pimentel panel continued its hearings on the lone antidynasty bill filed in the Senate in the 15th Congress. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago authored the proposal.
At the hearing, Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he believed that the only way an antidynasty measure could be enacted into law was through a people’s initiative, suggesting that Congress—with members of political families as lawmakers—could not be expected to do it.
Pimentel said he intended to bring the hearings on the anti-dynasty bill to provinces that have been dominated by political clans for generations. He mentioned Zamboanga del Norte in Mindanao and Nueva Ecija in Luzon.
Guingona, in a petition, has asked the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution’s antidynasty provision with the objective of spurring Congress to enact an enabling law.
Guingona’s account regarding the first antidynasty bill echoed Sen. Sergio Osmeña III’s own experience with an antidynasty bill getting foiled by the House.
Osmeña earlier told reporters that a committee report on an antidynasty bill had been prepared during the 10th Congress but the House leadership had sent word that Senate approval would not be of much use as the bill would not be approved in the House.
“Don’t send us that bill. It will never pass the House. So we just shelved it rather than pass it and embarrass the House for not passing their version,” Osmeña said.
Brillantes told the committee of his personal preference for an absolute ban on relatives running for office at the same time.
“I hope there would be an absolute prohibition. If you have a relative in the government, you can’t run for office until he or she retires,” Brillantes said.
“I would rather go into the initiative issue and follow the initiative, where the people themselves would be passing the law themselves,” he added.
Brillantes said he plans to spearhead an initiative for an antidynasty law if no such law had been enacted after he retires from the Comelec.