Lacson dynasty is no dynasty, by his definition
Senator Panfilo Lacson has openly declared himself against dynasticism in politics, confident that by his lights, he is no dynast himself.
“We need to pass an enabling law as regards the issue of political dynasty. Our Constitution [which bans political dynasties] has been in effect for a long time. Since 1987, no Congress has passed a law that would comply with the constitutional provision. It’s about time,” Lacson said.
As the last-termer senator sees it, a political dynasty only exists when members of the same family serve simultaneous terms of office, whether in national or local levels.
“It seems unbecoming to see father-and-son, siblings, husband-and-wife, in one plenary,” he said during a Senate electoral committee hearing yesterday on a bill prohibiting the establishment of political dynasties filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Lacson was referring to a clear dynastic situation developing in the Senate after the 2013 elections which could see a father and son, two brothers, and a-successor-son-to-a-senator-father all serving in a chamber that already has an existing brother-sister act and recently saw a mother-son tandem.
“It would be worse if they hold sway in the same province or in the same town as governor and mayor. That in my own view is at least a clear definition of a political dynasty,” he said.
Since he defines a political dynasty as occurring only if members from one family serve simultaneous terms, Lacson clearly does not see any contradiction in his son, Jay, running for vice governor in their Cavite home province in 2013.
The dictionary definition of a dynasty is a family that establishes and maintains predominance in a particular field, in this case politics, for generations. A dynast is a person who founds or belongs to a family powerful in a particular field.
Indicating that he might run for office again in 2016, Lacson said that if Jay decided to run for governor in 2016, “that should signal my retirement from politics.”
The hearing chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III similarly needed to come to grips with a definition of what a political dynasty is.
A lawyer from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) observed that Santiago in her Senate Bill 2649 defined political dynasty in such a way that only would-be dynasts in local elective posts were targeted.
Erwin Villarin of the Comelec legal office said Santiago appeared to exempt national positions from the proposed ban, adding that this was an observation shared by the Comelec commissioners.
However, National Movement on Free Elections Eric Alvia said stopping a family from fielding more than one member for political office could be detrimental as it could deprive the country of the services of a competent leader.
Alvia said he was for letting the voters decide who they wanted to vote in.
In her proposed bill, Santiago said a political dynasty exists “when a person who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official or relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity of an elective official holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent elective official within the same province or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective official.”
“It shall be deemed to exist where two or more persons, who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree if consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously within the same province, even if neither is so related to an incumbent elective official,” SB 2649 read.
Definition of spouse
A spouse is defined in Santiago’s bill as the legal or common-law wife or husband of the incumbent elective official.
The Santiago bill clearly does not target the situation in the Senate that Lacson is concerned about.
Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, is running for senator in 2013. The elder Enrile’s term does not end until 2016.
San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito is running for senator in 2013. If he wins, he will serve simultaneously with his half-brother, Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. The brothers are the sons of deposed President Joseph Estrada.
Jinggoy and his mother, Loi Ejercito, served as senators at the same time between 2004 and 2006.
There is a brother-and-sister presence in the Senate with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Pia Cayetano. Alan Peter is running for reelection in 2013 while Pia will serve until 2010.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.