Sotto fear girl/boy friends may circumvent federal limits

Published July 21, 2018, 12:23 PM

by AJ Siytangco


By Vanne Elaine Terrazola 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes that the provisions on political dynasty in the proposed federal constitution will have no teeth.

Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III gestures after elected as a newly Senate President at Senate Building in Pasay city, May 21,2018.(Czar Dancel)
Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III

The Consultative Committee (Con-Com) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution included in its draft charter a prohibition on political dynasties to grant “equal access to opportunities for public service” in the federal government.

Sotto, in reviewing the draft constitution, however, said the Con-Com’s proposal does not guarantee a solution to political dynasty as he claimed that paramours of elective officials would still be allowed to seek government office.

“Ang nakalagay doon, first and second level of consanguinity, legitimate or illegitimate. Ang ibig nilang sabihin doon, anak sa labas (What’s prohibited in the draft charter is first and second level of consanguinity, legitimate or illegitimate. The Con-Com was referring to illegitimate children),” Sotto said.

“Pero hindi nakalagay doon ‘girlfriend or boyfriend.’ Still, ganoon pa rin, the power of the official transgresses all factors kapag kasama ‘yong mistress. Eh, hindi naman kasama ‘yan doon eh. Binasa ko, ang nakalagay first and second level of consanguinity, hindi naman kasama doon sa second level of consanguinity ‘yong girlfriend,” he told reporters.

Sotto had been opposing measures against political dynasty in the country as he argued that it is “unfair” to the legitimate relatives of an incumbent official.

Last March, he registered a dissenting signature on a committee report endorsing the prohibition of political dynasties in the Senate plenary.

Senator Francis Escudero, on the other hand, said including the partners of elective officials in the prohibition would be problematic.

“Paano mo mapapatunayan ‘yon? Kasi ang kasal mayro’ng dokumento, pwedeng ipagbawal yung asawa,” Escudero said in an earlier press briefing in Senate.

Escudero said he has yet to study the proposed ban on political dynasty and its possible implication on the country’s democracy.

“Tayo lang ba nag may anti-dynasty sa mundo? Kasi yung mga advanced na demokrasya wala namang ganoon, eh. Kasi buo ang tiwala sa botante at proseso sa halalan, na pipiliin nngtoa sino ang gutso nila, tama man o mali, kamag-anak man o hindi,” he noted.

A political dynasty, according to the Con-Com’s draft, “exists when a family whose members are related up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether such relations are legitimate, illegitimate, half, or full blood, maintains or is capable of maintaining political control by succession or by simultaneously running for or holding elective positions.”

The draft charter prohibits a “person related to an incumbent elective official within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, as described above” from running for the same position in the immediately following election. Persons related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity are also banned to run simultaneously for more than one national and one regional or local position.

Should two or more members of the same family are running, the member who shall be allowed to be a candidate shall be determined by the drawing of lots, the draft charter said.

Aside from elective positions, the new constitution also prohibits the spouse and relatives of the President within the fourth degree of civil consanguinity or affinity, legitimate or illegitimate, from being appointed as members of the constitutional commissions and federal courts; or as secretaries, undersecretaries, chairpersons of bureaus or offices, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries.

Sotto said the anti-political dynasty provisions will be among the “several debatable issues” in the draft federal constitution.