MANILA, Philippines—Saying the Supreme Court had already defined the meaning of a political dynasty, a civil society group asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec), on Tuesday, to disqualify six prominent local candidates—including Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte—for being “clear and obvious” political dynasts.
In a 32-page petition, members of the group Andayamo (Anti-Dynasty Movement) urged the Comelec to disqualify Duterte; Miguel Luis Villafuerte and his grandfather Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur; Dennis Pineda, the son of Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda; and brothers Rexon and Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela.
“We chose them because they are clear and obvious (political dynasts). When you say clear and obvious, that means a single position—like mayor, congressman, or governor—being transferred to a spouse or son or two relatives running in tandem, like a mother running for governor while her son runs for vice governor,” said lawyer Alexander Lacson, one of the leaders to Andayamo.
“Of course, there are still many others out there but these are the ones that we read in the newspapers and are brazen, flagrant, and very obvious,” he added.
Lacson was accompanied by comedian Mae Paner and senatorial candidate Ricardo Penson, who earlier launched an anti-political dynasty movement, when they filed the petition at the Comelec before lunchtime on Tuesday.
The petitioners said the Supreme Court had defined the term political dynasties in the case of Navarro v. Ermita (GR No. 180050; April 12, 2011).
In that ruling, Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio defined political dynasties in the Philippines as a “phenomenon that concentrates political power and public resources within the control of a few families whose members alternately hold elective offices, deftly skirting term limits.”
“A Supreme Court decision is part of the law of our country. Thus, the above definition of ‘political dynasties’ by the Supreme Court is a definition of the term under Philippine law,” the petition said.
However, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. was not enthusiastic about Andayamo’s petition.
“We have no jurisdiction over that. The Supreme Court had just dismissed anti-dynasty moves. What’s the jurisprudence?” Brillantes said in an interview.
“I will have to read that first but my initial reaction is that it won’t fly. I think the petition’s (chances) are slim. But if it was done well, we will hear it,” he added.
The petitioners said the “first type” of a clear and obvious case of a political dynasty is where the candidate “seeks to replace and succeed his/her spouse, parent, child, or sibling who is the incumbent occupant of the public office the candidate is running for.”
They said this was the case in Camarines Sur, where Luis Villafuerte is running against his grandson Miguel Luis for governor, a post currently occupied by Villafuerte’s son and Miguel Luis’ father, Luis Raymond “LRay” Villafuerte.
“Governor LRay Villafuerte is now a candidate for Congressman in the 2nd District of the same province. As son and father of the incumbent Governor respectively, respondents Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Luis Villafuerte belong to that category of clear and obvious cases of political dynasties,” the petition said.
“As further explained hereunder, there is no more need for a law to prescribe that this situation belongs to or falls under the plain and ordinary meaning of the term political dynasty,” it added.
As such, the petition deemed Miguel Luis and his grandfather as not qualified to run for governor of Camarines Sur.
“They, as well as those candidates similarly situated, are prohibited candidates under the Constitution, specifically by virtue of an express prohibition against political dynasties under Section 26, Article II,” the petition said.
In Pampanga, Dennis Pineda is running for vice-governor while his mother, the incumbent governor, is running for re-election.
“If respondent Dennis Pineda and his mother Lilia “Baby” Pineda both win, the Governor and Vice-Governor of the province of Pampanga will be under the mother and son tandem,” the petitioners said.
“As mother and son, they are first-degree relatives. They can inherit from each other under our law on inheritance and succession…Clearly and obviously, they belong to the same immediate family. Clearly and obviously, they have the same interests,” they said.
“This is a clear and obvious case of political dynasty. There will be concentration of political power in the hands of members of the same family,” they added.