Senators weigh in on anti-political dynasty bill

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By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III called the anti-political dynasty bill “unfair” to legitimate family members.

He said the proposed measure prohibits a wife or anyone in the second degree of consanguinity to run for public office. However, he said mistresses and their relatives can run in an election.

“Signing a committee report does not mean one is in favor. I signed dissenting,” further said Sotto, who along with 13 other senators of the 23 senators signed the consolidated bill banning political dynasties.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III assured that the Senate can pass the anti-political dynasty bill.

“We will also incorporate a self-executing anti-political dynasty provision in the new Constitution,” he said.

Hence, he said the House has no choice but to accept the reality that there will soon be an anti-political dynasty law.

Aside from Sotto, the other signatories are Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Risa Hontiveros, Loren Legarda, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Grace Poe, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Ralph Recto, Leila de Lima, Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian, and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

Of the signatories, only Ejercito, Binay, Angara, Recto and Gatchalian have close relatives who are currently occuying various elective positions.

Ejercito said he is optimistic the anti-dynasty bill will get the approval fof the senators. In the House. He said it will likely be approved if President Rodrigo Duterte pushes for it.

The House led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is dominated by allies of the President at PDP-Laban.

Ejercito, son of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and his girlfriend, incumbent San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez, said he has been an author of the measure since he was a member of the House of Representatives. He is a principal author of this bill in the Senate.

His half brother, former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the Manila mayor’s son by former Sen. Loi Ejercito, is again running for senator in the coming May 2019 elections.

Ejercito said he did not ask permission from his father when he signed the proposed measure.

“He did not call me. But I will tell him. By the time that this will be passed, his term had already ended,” stressed Ejercito.

Ejercito, a re-electionist, said that it is very seldom his father interferes with his decision, knowing that he is very independent-minded.

While he is a part of a political dynasty, Ejercito believes power — economic and political, should not be monopolized by a small group of people.

He said some people are questioning his support for the anti-political dynasty bill, even thinking that he is just angry at his former senator-brother who was detained over a pork barrel scam. He denied this allegation.

“With our population of 100 million,” he said, “there are those who have the capability and sincerity to serve but they just do not have the means.”

He hopes the anti-political dynasty bill will give opportunity to those who want to serve but do not have a popular name or political machinery. He said this is the reason he is excited in the upcoming Sangguniang Kabataan elections as it will be the first time the anti-political dynasty provision in the SK Reform Law will be applied.

For her part, Poe believes the anti-political dynasty bill will pass in the Senate but she’s not so sure about it in the House because she’s not privy to discussions there.

Aquino said it is about time to pass the anti-political dynasty bill. He said all experts were saying that federalism will not be successful if this proposed measure is not passed into law.

“So if the proponents of federalismo are serious, they have to push for this law that prevents political dynasty.”

Angara belierves that compared to previous congresses, the bill has definitely made a lot of progress.

“But I am sure there will be a lot of debates on how the law will operate in given situations,” said Angara.

He said that 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?” he asked.

He said those details need ironing out.

Recto, husband of incumbent Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, said he agrees with the President that it will be difficult to pass an anti-dynasty bill.

“I signed it with amendments,” said Recto, adding that he is thinking of a version that may be acceptable to the House and Palace so “we can move it forward.”

He recalled the passage of an anti-dynasty provision for the Sangguniang Kabataan elections that was acceptable to all.

Senate Bill No. 1765 or the Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2018 defines 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.”

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.

SBN 1765, under Committee Report No. 367 of the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, says “any person with political dynasty relationship with any incumbent elective official shall not be allowed to run for or hold public office under the following circumstances: to immediately succeed or replace the said incumbent; if the incumbent is an elective barangay official, the spouse and the above relatives are prohibited to run simultaneously for any position in the same barangay as well as in the barangays in municipalities or cities within the same legislative district if the incumbent is an elective official of the municipality or city, legislative district or province, the spouse and above relatives are prohibited to run for or hold any elective office simultaneously with the incumbent within the same barangay, municipality, city, legislative district or province; if the incumbent is a national elective official, the spouse and the above relatives are likewise prohibited to run simultaneously for any position in the national or local level as barangay captain, mayor, governor or district representative in any part of the country; and, if the incumbent is a barangay captain/mayor/governor or district representative, the spouse and the above relatives are also prohibited to run simultaneously for any position in the national level.

Pangilinan, also committee chairperson, said persons who are not holding any public office shall also be prohibited from running in the same election if their election will result in a political dynasty relationship.

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