VIGAN CITY – The civil society group, Movement Against Dynasties (MAD), on Sunday took their crusade to the province controlled for the last three decades by the influential Singson clan.
MAD made its presence felt at a 9 a.m. Mass in St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral in this capital, led by its chair, Quintin San Diego, and its Ilocos chapter chair, Edgar Bacungan.
Addressing a crowd from the pulpit, San Diego said the movement is nonpartisan, nonsectarian and purely voluntary, and is motivated only by the constitutional provision banning dynasties, which many believe, continues to be violated.
San Diego cited Section 26, Article 2 of the Constitution, which says: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties, as may be defined by law.”
San Diego said MAD has been campaigning nationwide to gather 5.2 million signatures for a petition urging Congress to enact a law prohibiting political dynasties.
“It is now the people who will vigorously campaign for their leaders, lawmakers and politicians to pay respect and obey the law, and to end dynasties,” he said.
San Diego said a people’s initiative is the only option left “as provided for under Republic Act No. 6735 (The Initiative and Referendum Act).”
The MAD contingent wore red shirts bearing phrases like “Isa lang kada angkan (Just one per clan)” and “Hindi negosyo ang pwesto sa gobyerno (A position in government is not a business opportunity).”
Bacungan said MAD also campaigned in La Union, where the Ortega clan is most influential.
Political dynasties, he said, are roots of poverty and corruption in the government.
Seeking the gubernatorial post here is Ilocos Sur
Rep. Ryan Luis Singson, son of incumbent Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson.
Chavit, acknowledged leader of the Singson clan, is not seeking an elective post this year.
Ryan, who is running under the alliance of the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the local party, Bileg, is facing Tagudin Mayor Roque Verzosa Jr., a candidate of the Liberal Party (LP).
Verzosa’s son, Meljohn, is seeking the mayoral seat that his father would vacate.
Former Ilocos Sur
Rep. Ronald Singson, who had served time in Hong Kong for illegal drugs possession, is reclaiming his old seat in the first congressional district that his brother, Ryan, occupies.
Ronald, who is also running under the NP-Bileg alliance, is facing Beltran Baterina of the LP in the race.
The Singson family is also dominant in the second congressional district of the province.
Chavit’s cousin, former Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, is seeking his old seat, now occupied by his son, Eric Jr.
Another son, Ericson, is running for mayor of Candon City to replace his brother, Allen.
Eric’s brother, Alfonso, is running for reelection as vice mayor of Candon City while his nephew, Jaime Singson, and niece, Anicka Zaragoza, are running for seats in the provincial board.
Bacungan said they have solicited half a million signatures in their campaign against political dynasties.
Reacting to the campaign, Governor Singson said not all political families are bad.
“Elected officials will not [be allowed to] stay in office for a long time if they are bad,” he said.
“People now are wise, intelligent and cannot be swayed by money alone. They [may] accept money from candidates but [would] still decide on their own come Election Day,” he said.
Singson said he was coauthor of the antidynasty measure filed in the 8th Congress when he served to represent the first congressional district of Ilocos Sur.
Vice Gov. Deogracias Victor Savellano said he would respect and follow an antidynasty law if Congress passes one. The vice governor’s son, Deogracias Jose Victorino, is running unopposed as Cabugao town vice mayor. Leoncio Balbin Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon