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High court dismisses bid to ban political dynasties


02:03 AM January 21st, 2013

By: Jerome Aning, January 21st, 2013 02:03 AM

The Constitution’s provision against political dynasties is not self-executing and must have an enabling law passed by Congress to back it up, according to the Supreme Court.

The high tribunal reiterated this requirement as it denied with finality the petition of businessman Louis Biraogo to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ban members of political dynasties from running in the May elections.

“[I]t is evident from the plain wording of the provision against political dynasties, particularly Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, which reads: ‘the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be provided by law,’ that it is not self-executing but is simply a statement of a general principle which further requires a law passed by Congress to define and give effect thereto,” the high court en banc ruled.

The court threw out Biraogo’s main petition on Nov. 13, 2012, but the latter filed a motion for reconsideration, which was dismissed on Jan. 8. The Jan. 8 decision was released by the Supreme Court public information office only last Friday.

In his motion for reconsideration, Biraogo argued that the Supreme Court “is not devoid of power to provide a remedy where Congress deliberately fails to enact legislation explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Biraogo cited the 1997 case of Manila Prince Hotel v Government Service Insurance System wherein the high court upheld the bid of a Filipino corporation against that of a foreign corporation in the acquisition of shares in the firm that owned the hotel.

In that case, Biraogo said, the Supreme Court cited Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution which states that “in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos.”

However, the court said Biraogo’s act of citing the Manila Prince Hotel case was “misplaced,” adding that Section 10, Article XII, also known as the “Filipino First Policy” was self-executory.

“[Section 10, Article XII] is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws for its enforcement, and that, from its very words, does not require any legislation to put it in operation,” the justices ruled.

In October last year, Biraogo filed a 26-page petition for mandamus, asking the high court to order the Comelec to enforce the constitutional ban on political dynasties in the coming national and local polls.

Biraogo had lamented how dynasties still dominated the country’s political landscape, adding that the current batch of candidates was the “best testament to that political and constitutional mockery.”

“The refusal of the government, the Congress in particular, to fulfill the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties has been a continuing insult to the Filipino people. Something must be done about this anomaly,” Biraogo said.

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