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Watered-down antidynasty bill proposed

/ 07:36 AM April 04, 2014

Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice: Watered down. PHOTO BY RICHARD REYES

MANILA, Philippines—The antipolitical dynasty bill goes hand in hand with the ongoing battle against corruption, according to one of its authors who is looking forward to its approval in the House of Representatives when he introduces a “tamer” version during future deliberations.

Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said he is continuing his “consensus-building” for the potentially controversial bill which is expected to affect many well-entrenched and powerful political families.

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The bill is expected to be tackled in the plenary once Congress resumes sessions in May.

Erice said corruption is related to the proliferation of political dynasties, noting that many of the country’s impoverished provinces are ruled by members of the same family.

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Breaking up the concentration of power to a few families could thus bring positive changes, he said.

“If we have to reform, this is very important for the transformation process,” he said in a phone interview.

The current version of the bill prohibits incumbent officials’ spouses and relatives up the second degree of consanguinity or affinity from holding or running for any local or national elective office in the same election.

More acceptable

This means only one member of a family, up to the second degree, could hold public office at the same time.

But Erice is planning to introduce an amendment that would allow up to two members of a family to hold public office simultaneously. He said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte supports this proposed change.

With this, fewer incumbent politicians would be adversely affected by the bill, but it would still achieve the goal of reducing the number of family members holding office at the same time, he said.

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According to the lawmaker, it is also important to ensure that the measure would be acceptable to a fairly good number of members.

There are political families who have more than two members holding public office at the same time and Erice said it’s a choice of doing what’s good for the country or what’s good for them.

“If they don’t want to give up their seats, that’s not serving the country anymore. That’s being greedy,” he said.

The bill also seeks to prevent the practice of effectively passing on elective posts from one member of a family to another member from the same family. It states that no person within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to the incumbent will be allowed to immediately succeed to the position of the latter.

Various sectors and organizations have joined calls for the passage of an antidynasty bill.

Last year, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a statement condemning political dynasties.

“As monopolies in business, monopolies in politics limit the entry that can bring in new ideas and offer better services. Political dynasties breed corruption and ineptitude,” it had said in the statement, where it also decried Congress’ failure to follow the Constitution by passing an enabling law to ban dynasties.

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TAGS: Antidynasty Bill, Congress, Edgar Erice, Political Dynasties
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