By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms has expressed optimism that the Anti-Political Dynasty bill can be passed in the 17th Congress.
Citizens Battle against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna cited the possibility of having the controversial bill approved this Congress, citing the “openness” of the House members to tackle the measure.
“I believe that members of the House are open to discussing and debating on this matter. The House of Representatives in the past has passed the SK Reform law which contains a provision against nepotism. Having said this, it is also possible that an anti-dynasty law be passed in Congress,” he said in an interview.
He said his panel has yet to deliberate on measures against political dynasties.
Deputy Speaker and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro and former Speaker and Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. earlier said there is no chance for the Anti-Political Dynasty bill to prosper this 17th Congress.
Both House leaders agreed that it will be an uphill climb to pass the measure seeking to end the political dynasties in the country.
“Without going into the merits or issues that will have to be discussed on the committee level, time constraint is the biggest stumbling block that will frustrate the passage of the bill , considering the intervening holidays, election and forthcoming adjournment of session,” Castro said.
Castro served as the chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms during the 16th Congress. During the previous Congress, he claimed that the approval of the measure was blocked by some House members belonging from political families.
Belmonte said the proposal will not breeze through the Lower Chamber this 17th Congress.
“The measure will unlikely prosper due to lack of time and lack of champions, ” he said.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano earlier filed a bill seeking to prohibit political dynasties to guarantee and provide equal access to opportunities for public office and public service to any qualified Filipino.
In filing House Bill 8025, he lamented that political dynasties have long been a feature of the country’s political landscape.
Citing a report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Alejano said out of 77 provinces, 72 or about 94 percent are dominated by political families.
“To give force and effect to the provision prohibiting political dynasties, the playing field of the political arena should be leveled and opened to persons who are equally qualified to aspire on even terms with those from prominent political families, ” he said.
He said dynasties imperil democracy as people are stifled by those perpetually in power to expand their choices for potential candidates, depriving them of the genuine and active participation of the people.
“As long as there is no law that prohibits the proliferation of political dynasties, a few families will continue to possess regions in our country as their own personal fiefdoms and it will surely be the people that shall suffer the consequences,” he pointed out.
Alejano filed House Bill 8025 which provides that political dynasty relationship shall exist when the spouse or any relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official, runs for public office to succeed or replace the incumbent, or runs for or holds any elective local office simultaneously with the incumbent within the same province, legislative district, city or municipality, and within the same barangay or barangays within the same legislative district.
The relationship also exists if the incumbent is a national elective official, including incumbents in the party-list system, and the spouse or relatives within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity run for any position in the national level or in the local level as barangay captain, mayor, governor, or district representative in any part of the country.
Such political dynasty relationship shall also be deemed to exist where two or more persons who are spouses, or are related to one another within the second degree on consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective public official at the national level, or at local level within the same province, legislative district, municipality or city, and within the same barangay or barangays within the same legislative district, even if neither is so related to an incumbent elective official.