By: Lira Dalangin-Fernandez and Ernie Reyes, InterAksyon.com November 20, 2013 4:13 PM
MANILA, Philippines -- After being struck out Congress after Congress since 2001, a bill that seeks to ban political dynasties finally made it to first base in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, receiving the unanimous approval of the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms.
The committee’s approval came a few days after Senator Jose Victor Ejercito filed his own anti-dynasty bill. Ironically, Ejercito is the son of Manila Mayor and former President Joseph Estrada by Guia Gomez, incumbent mayor of San Juan City, and half-brother to fellow Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, which would technically make him part of a dynasty.
A cousin, Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito, was governor of Laguna until he was disqualified by the Commission on Elections for overspending in the May elections this year.
Representative Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, the party-list that has been filing the bill in the House for more than a decade, called the committee’s approval of the proposed Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2013, a consolidation of three measures filed in the 16th Congress, a historic moment for the anti-dynasty struggle, if only because the bill has passed the committee. It has finally reached first base."
Colmenares, one of the measure’s principal authors, hopes people will support the bill’s aim to end "the concentration, consolidation, or perpetuation of public office
and political power by persons related to one another,” in the same way they supported the campaign for the abolition of the congressional pork barrel, or Priority Development Assistance Fund, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional on Tuesday.
The bill says a political dynasty "exists when two or more individuals who are
related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity hold or run for national or local office in successive, simultaneous, or overlapping terms.”
It says: "No spouse, or person related within the second civil degree of consanguinity of affinity, whether legitimate or illegitimate, full or half -blood, to an incumbent elective official seeking re-election shall be allowed to hold or run for any local or national elective office in the same election."
Under the measure, candidates who fall within the banned degree of affinity will be disqualified from holding or running for any local or national office in the same election.
The bill would allow only one member of a family to seek office, with the Commission on Elections to hold a raffle to break the deadlock in case related candidates insist on running at the same time.
Colmenares said under the current political setup, public office, in more cases than not, has become the exclusive domain of a few influential families.
He cited a United Nationals Development Program study that found 72 of the country’s 77 provinces had political families, and that there were at least two dominant political clans in most provinces.
Aside form Colmenares, the authors of the bill are Representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers, Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis, Terry Ridon of Kabataan, Erlinda Santiago of 1-SAGIP, Edgar Erice of Caloocan and Oscar Rodriguez of Pampanga.
Ejercito’s proposed Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2013, on the other hand, would bar candidates “who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective public office within the same city and/or province, even if neither is so related to an incumbent elective official.”
It would also bar anyone related to an incumbent official within the prohibited civil degree of relationship to immediately succeed that official.
His bill defines a dynasty as “the concentration, consolidation or perpetuation of public office and political power by persons related to one another.”
The measure would require candidates for any office above the barangay level to file a sworn statement with the Comelec that they do not belong to a political dynasty.