A civil society group on Thursday vowed to put an end to the rule of political families, which, it said, are holding the country “in bondage.”
The Movement Against Dynasties (MAD) announced its plan for a people’s initiative that would urge the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to enforce the consitutional prohibition on political dynasties.
“This will be the beginning of the end of political dynasties in the Philippines,” MAD chairman Quintin San Diego told a news conference.
With midterm elections to be held next year, “we strongly believe that the right time to act is now,” San Diego said.
The initiative will be aimed at the families of President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, former President Joseph Estrada, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Sen. Manuel Villar, the children of the late Sen. Renato Cayetano, and local politicians who have controlled provincial and municipal politics for generations.
At various times in the past 25 years, lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have introduced legislation that would enforce the constitutional ban on political dynasties, but none of the proposals has gone beyond first reading in either house because of opposition from dynasts.
Aware of that difficulty and of the Comelec’s not having legislative power, MAD, through the initiative, will ask the Comelec to introduce legislation in Congress that would enable Article II, Section 26, of the Constitution—the prohibition on political dynasties.
The provision reads: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”
“There is [an] overwhelming clamor [from] the people that our country should no longer be held in bondage by a few dynasties,” San Diego said.
He said a few politicians should not be allowed to continue controlling most aspects of the Filipinos’ democratic life by completely ignoring the constitutional ban on political dynasties.
“We have had enough. We are angry at this system being implemented by a few families,” San Diego added.
MAD is composed of advocacy groups, including civic clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis and Jaycees.
Through these groups, MAD hopes to be able to gather signatures from at least 10 percent of all registered voters to mount the initiative. In that 10 percent, each of the country’s more than 280 congressional districts will be represented by 3 percent of all district voters, as required by the Constitution.
The initiative petition, directed at the Comelec, will include a proposed enabling law that would define and ban political dynasties. The proposal would limit every family to only one politician.
If several members of a family are aspiring for public office, the Comelec will make them draw lots to determine who will be allowed to proceed.
The proposed ban on political dynasties covers relatives up to the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.
The proposal carries a provision against succession, which would bar family members from seeking public office until incumbents have completed their terms.
San Diego said MAD would circulate copies of the initiative petition nationwide to educate people on political dynasties.
The group will also conduct a nationwide awareness campaign on political dynasties and their negative effects on government and economic growth, he said.