Senate leaders divided on passing anti-dynasty bill

Published March 23, 2018, 5:07 PM

by AJ Siytangco


By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate leaders are divided on passing a measure that will prohibit political dynasties while a number of their colleagues have already expressed support.

The Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation endorsed yesterday the approval of the Senate Bill 1765, a consolidation of six measures pushing the prohibition of political dynasties, which it defined as “the concentration, consolidation, and/or perpetuation of public office and political powers by persons related to one another within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity.”

Senate of the Philippines / Manila Bulletin
Senate of the Philippines / Manila Bulletin

Thirteen senators have signed in support of the measure, albeit reservations that it will hurdle their counterpart in Congress.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III on Friday expressed confidence that the measure will be approved in the Upper Chamber and the House of Representatives would have “no choice” but to accept it.

“We can pass that in the Senate. We will also incorporate a self-executing anti-political dynasty provision in the new Constitution. Hence, the House has no choice but to accept the reality that there will soon be an anti-political dynasty law,” Pimentel said.

For Sen. Ralph Recto, Senate President Pro Tempore, however, approving an anti-dynasty bill will not be as easy. He echoed President Duterte, who, despite being amenable to the measure’ s passage, doubts that it will succeed in Congress.

“I agree with the president, it will be difficult to pass an anti dynasty bill,” Recto said in a separate statement.

Recto signed the Senate panel’s committee report but noted that he will push for some amendments.

“I am thinking of a version that may be acceptable to the House and Palace so we can move it forward. (We) must recall that we passed an anti dynasty provision for the SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) elections that was acceptable to all,” he added.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, on the other hand, said he opposes the anti-political bill, saying it would be “unfair” to the legitimate relatives of an incumbent official.

Sotto, in the committee report, aired his dissenting vote on SB 1765 even before it reaches deliberations in the Senate plenary.

“An anti political dynasty bill is unfair to legitimate family members. A wife or anyone in the second degree of consanguinity may not run for public office but mistresses and their relatives may?” Sotto asked.

Aside from Recto and Sotto, other senators are upbeat about passing a measure that will ban political dynasties.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chair of the Senate committee on local government, said the measure “has definitely made a lot of progress” compared to previous Congresses.

“But I am sure there will be a lot of debate on how the law will operate in given situations. It is easy to disqualify a family member from running if there is an incumbent family member; but what happens when there are no incumbent family members in office and two relatives like brothers or spouses run at the same time, what is the mechanism for choosing who can run from among the relatives? Those details need ironing out,” he said.

Sen. Bam Aquino, for his part, said it is high time for an anti-political dynasty law be passed.

“Panahon na na mapasa ang anti political dynasty bill. Lahat ng eksperto ay nagsasabi na hindi magtatagumpay ang federalismo kung hindi maipapasa ang panukalang ito. Kaya’t kung seryoso ang mga proponent ng federalismo dito, kailangan itaguyod rin nila ang batas na nagbabawal sa mga dinastiya (It is time to pass the anti-political dynasty bill. All experts are saying that federalism will not succeed if this proposal is not approved. So if proponents of federalism are serious about it, they should also uphold the law that will prohibit dynasties),” he said.

Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito and Grace Poe, who both signed the report, are also optimistic that the measure will be passed in Senate.