Ban on political dynasties unlikely

A BICAMERAL conference committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill rejected last Monday a Senate proposal  for a ban on political dynasties in the forthcoming autonomous region.

The Senate had proposed in Section 15, Article VII, of Senate Bill 1717:   “No party representative should be related within the second civil  degree of consanguinity  or affinity  to  a district representative or another party representative in the same parliament.” This would have banned a father and son (first degree) or two brothers (second degree) from serving in the same parliament of the Bangsamoro region.

But members  of the bicameral panel  “strongly opposed “ the provision, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said. So he said he yielded to his fellow lawmakers.  The Bangsamoro Transition Commission which had crafted the bill had earlier opposed the Senate proposal.

The principle  of  banning political dynasties  has been in our Constitution since it was ratified in 1987, but it has never been enforced because the constitutional provision called for a  law defining it: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” (Section 26, Article II, Declaration of Principles and State Policies.

Many Congresses have convened since 1987 but not one of them enacted the needed law. The closest it came to this goal was to apply the ban  in the Kabataan elections last May but not in the barangay elections held at the same time.

It is generally believed   that Congress, which is dominated by  political dynasties, is not likely to approve such a law as it would be against their own interests. This should explain why after all these 31 years since 1987,  Section 15, Article VII,  of the Philippine Constitution never got to be implemented.

Last Monday,  the Consultative Committee appointed by President Duterte to propose a draft of a new constitution built around a federal system of government announced it has done its work and submitted its draft to the President, who will then  send it to  Congress, meeting as a Constitutional  Assembly. The Consultative Committee headed by former Chief Justice Renato Puno  said it had included a ban on political dynasties in its draft, this time already specifying that it extend to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity.

After Congress’  inaction in the last 31 years and after the bicameral conference committee on the BBL Law threw out the Senate proposal, it does not seem likely that  the Puno Consultative Committee’s proposal  for a ban on political dynasties will fare any better in the coming Constitutional Assembly composed of members of the  House of Representatives and the Senate.