By Mario Casayuran
Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian has expressed doubts on the passage of an anti-political dynasty bill when Congress resumes regular session on April 16, citing the fact that 70 percent of congressmen are members of political dynasties.
“Dapat nating tandaan na bicam tayo. Kahit pumasa ito sa Senado kung di papasa sa Lower House, wala rin mangyari (Even if it is passed by the Senate, nothing positive will happen), he said, explaining that conflicting provisions of bills passed by the Senate and the Lower House have to be ironed out in a bicameral conference committee process.
Gatchalian was a former congressman representing Valenzuela City.
Meanwhile, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has expressed optimism that the country has a better chance of having a new law that would ban political dynasties after 13 senators have signed a committee report on Senate Bill 1765 that would eliminate political dynasties.
The Senate bill defines a political dynasty 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.”
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate constitutional amendments committee that drafted the committee report, said “this covers spouses (legal and common-law), siblings (full or half-blood), parents and children (legitimate, illegitimate and adopted) and the spouses of these second-degree relatives.’’
Pimentel agreed with the view of Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate economic affairs and energy committees, that even if the Senate could pass the anti-political dynasty bill, it still needs a counterpart measure from the Lower House.
A counterpart anti-political dynasty bill has been filed at the Lower House but has remained pending in the committee level.
Because of this, Pimentel, son of the former Senate President Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr.,said there is still another way.
Pimentel noted that a commission created by President Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution has already approved proposed anti-political dynasty provisions.
The approved provisions include the ban on incumbent officials holding a national, regional or local position to be succeeded by any relative up to the second degree of consanguinity.
That means “we have two chances, one by law, one is by constitutional change,’’ he added.
The 1987 Constitution already contains a provision banning political dynasties as a ‘’state policy’’ but leaves to Congress to pass an enabling law.