MANILA, Philippines—Pushing their cause against political dynasties, a group led by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. has filed a motion asking to the Supreme Court to review its position that it could not compel Congress to enact an anti-dynasty law.
In their 27-page motion filed Feb. 22, Guingona, along with Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez, lawyers Leonardo de Vera, Eduardo Bringas and Vicente Velasquez, and Raymundo Jarque, clarified that they were not asking the Court to usurp the powers of Congress to make laws.
“[We] simply pray for a determination of whether Congress by inaction for the past 25 years has violated the Constitution and its duty as the representative of the people when it chose to downplay and disregard the importance of the anti-political dynasty policy despite the provision in Article XIII, Section 1 of the Constitution, mandating it to give highest priority to enact measures of this nature,” the petitioners said.
The court early this month dismissed the Guigona group’s petition, along with that of senatorial candidate Ricardo Penson, citing the principle of separation of powers and the doctrine of political question. The justices also said that the anti-dynasty provision in the Constitution was not self-executory and needed an enabling law.
However, the Guingona and his fellow petitioners insisted that the Constitution already has forbidden political dynasties and Congress only has to define what a political dynasty is.
“Congress does not have, Congress was not granted, Congress was not given the option, Congress was not given the discreton not to pass a law prohibiting political dynasty,” they said.
Instead of invoking the principle of separation of powers in refusing to compel Congress to pass an anti-dynasty law, the group said the justices could use the same principle to declare that the legislature has committed grave abuse of discretion.
“The act of the majority members of Congress in not passing the law is based on their personal bias as they themselves are part of the political dynasties. Clearly, there is grave abuse of discretion on their part,” they said.
And when grave abuse of discretion is committed by the Legislative or Executive branches, the court “should not use the doctrine of political question as shield, to the detriment of the Filipino people from where all the branches of government derived their power in the first place,” they added.
If the court does find that there was indeed grave abuse of discretion, “there should be a commensurate move to give effect to its pronouncement and this move is to require Congress to follow the Constitution,” the petitioners said.
“This is not an encroachment or usurpation per se but rather the enforcement of the will of the People as mandated by the Constitution! This is true democracy!” they added.