(First published in The Philippine Star issue of March 24, 2013)


DEFINITION NEEDED: Section 26 of Article II (Declaration of State Policies) of the Constitution is clear: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”


The charter does not call for the enactment of law prohibiting dynasties. It is itself already banning them. What it asks for is the enactment of a law defining “political dynasty.”


But the Congress has refused to do it for the past 26 years. It continues to perpetuate political inbreeding and the treating of a public office as a possession to be passed on to family members.


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OLD & NEW: Like weeds having overrun the front and backyard and now threatening to creep into the nation’s living room, political dynasties have been reaching farther and wider with their tentacles.


Data cited by the Movement Against Dynasties (MAD) show that 72 out of 80 provinces, or 90 percent!, are governed by 178 political clans or dynasties.


With the old political clans getting away with it and getting richer and more powerful in the process, new dynasties have emerged.


Of the dynasties lording it over the countryside, only 56 percent of those that have captured 72 provinces are of old clans. The rest are caught in the tender tentacles of new dynasties.


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MINIMUM DEFINITION: If we wait for the Congress, which is controlled by politicians and vested groups, to pass a law defining “political dynasty,” we may have to wait forever.


It is time people asserted themselves. Using their individual definitions, which may vary, they can then reject politicians they think are dynastic candidates.


Some people will disagree with my minimum definition, but to me, a politician is a dynastic candidate if he is a first-degree relative of the President, the Vice President or a senator, or of a congressman or governor or mayor from the same province or town where he is running.


I will not vote for a candidate who has a spouse, parent, child or sibling holding an elective post in the offices and the province or town mentioned.

Other voters may add or subtract from this my minimum personal definition. Kanya-kanya tayo, but let us all be against dynasties.


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FORUM PAPERS: Scholarly studies on the dynasty phenomenon were presented March 7 in a forum titled “Building an Inclusive Democracy” at the Ateneo.


It was organized by the Asian Institute of Management with the participation of the Ateneo School of Government, the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance, and the International Studies Department of the De La Salle University.


One study presented by Dr. Julio Teehankee, chair of the DLSU International Studies Department, explained the correlation between dynasties and corruption. It revealed that Region 3 is ruled by 24 clans, Region 4 by 18, Region 11 by 11, and CAR by 5 clans. Pangasinan alone has 7 clans, Leyte has 7, Cebu 6, and Negros Occidental 6 clans.


Another study, that of Dr. Ronald Mendoza, executive director of the AIM Policy Center, was titled “Political Dynasties and Poverty: Chicken or the Egg.” It detailed explosive facts and figures on the evils of political dynasties.


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PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE: The Movement Against Dynasties is a nationwide group of non-partisan volunteers from socio-civic and religious groups, non-government organizations, cause-oriented advocates and college students.


Since the Congress refuses to act on dynasties, MAD plans to use people’s initiative under RA 6735 (The Initiative and Referendum Act) to gather the signatures of at least 10 percent of the 52 million registered voters nationwide.


Under the law, the 5.2 million signatories must include at least 3 percent of the registered voters from each of the around 250 legislative districts in the entire country.


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CBCP LINK: MAD is linking up with the bishops. A pastoral statement of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippine last February denounced political dynasties as illegal and breeding corruption, violence and ineptitude.


With the Church’s nationwide influence through its parishes, the CBCP can help people's initiative succeed in enacting a law defining “political dynasty.”


MAD’s lead convenor and chairman Quintin San Diego and co-chairman Danilo Olivares have sought the help of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and Pangasinan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president and vice president, respectively, of the CBCP.


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BATTERED WIFE: On another topic, with all due respect to the politicians involved, it must be said that the “battered wife” issue raised by former senator Migz Zubiri may have left a bad taste in many people’s mouth.


Zubiri said in an interview that Jewel Lobaton-Pimentel, former beauty queen and estranged wife of Sen. Koko Pimentel, had disclosed being a battered spouse who suffered much.


Whether or not Zubiri’s revelation has basis, Jewel did not waste time denying that she had made such a disclosure. It is now Zubiri’s word against Jewel’s.


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UNGENTLEMANLY: No matter who holds the truth, Filipino culture rejects the exploitation of family issues for political gain. Even more unacceptable is dragging into the fray a woman healing her emotional wounds.


Jewel is yet to recover from the trauma and pain of a break-up. It is ungentlemanly and cruel to drag her into a political quarrel that probably has no value to her.


Was Zubiri ill-advised ? Was the “battered wife” card part of his game plan against Pimentel?


The come-backing Zubiri should be advised to spare the women even as he mauls his political arch-foe some other way.


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