Law & Legal & Attorney Politics

Curing the Pollutics of Dynasties and Oligarchies

An article published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on its November 11, 2012 issue, quoted Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay arguing against the prohibition of political dynasties, especially those with qualified candidates, egged on by popular clamor.
The sentiment echoes those of members of 150 clans who have dominated the country's political scene since the first legislature.
Muddying the issue further, some dynasty members even go as far as saying that there can be no dynasties as political leadership is determined through free elections.
'Popular clamor', 'free elections', these are the pro-dynasty buzz words.
Political dynasties fluttered back in the news after the public was aghast when the two biggest political parties announced their respective senatorial slates for 2013.
The slates consisted of offsprings and siblings of seating senators, among them: Allan Peter Cayetano who is running for reelection and shared senate duties with sister Pia in the 15th congress; JV Ejercito, brother to incumbent senator Jinggoy Estrada,sons of former president Joseph Estrada; Sonny Angara, son of senator Ed; Jackie Enrile, son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The Vice President fielded his reluctant daughter for a senate seat in 2013.
Another daughter now serves as representative while his son holds sway as mayor of Makati, which position, the Vice-president held for 21 years and his wife, for three.
President Benigno Aquino, is part of the powerful Cojuangco-Aquino oligarchy which already produced two presidents, several representatives, senators and mayors starting with the president's great-grandfather Melecio, a representative in 1907 legislature.
Included in the senatorial slate of the president's Liberal party is a nephew while an aunt is listed on the opposing team.
Political dynasties and oligarchies have long been blamed for the stunted growth of the Philippines.
The redrafting of the constitution in 1987 recognized the problem (however stating it very delicately) and as a solution inserted Article 2, section 26, prohibiting dynasties.
Twenty-five years later, however, no house bill presented to effect the provision became law, obviously dynasties rule both houses.
In the absence of specific law on the anti-dynasty provision of the constitution and with three, probably four of the highest officials fielding relatives in the coming election, how can the ills of political dynasties and oligarchies be cured? Curbing the advantage of Dynasties Dynasties wage campaigns and win elections on the strength of (i) money and (ii) the power of the incumbent.
Campaign chests accumulated precisely in anticipation of elections, enable dynasties to funnel as much money as warranted to broadcast media for the song and dance routine.
This strategy comes highly advantageous in seeking national positions which requires building a recall foundation.
However, the exercise proves financially draining for political 'wannabes'; untenable, except for the rich and very rich.
In turn, national elections draw very little new participants.
There is little wonder that the same names, usually belonging to political dynasties, crop up over and over again.
It is the same old, same old.
For the run-up for 2013, certain candidates are already on TV even before the official campaign period to the detriment of other candidates.
This demonstrates dynasties' determined fight for survival in the political arena.
The power of incumbency enables a candidate to influence election aspects through his current political position and links.
For example, the board of canvassers (boc) are all under the mayor which becomes the handicap of a challenger.
Imagine, being called to a meeting and boss inserts a thing or two about the coming election.
At the extreme, composition of the boc can be altered by a lone signature in the comelec.
Declaration of 'hot spot' accords an incumbent undue advantage.
This condition can bring on a number of deviation from common election procedures.
Leveling the political playing field means either clipping the advantage of members of dynasties running for office or supplying the opponent with the same equipment.
A house bill, I think had been drafted that proposes government to fund election campaigns of political parties.
As good as it may sound for equal exposure,the policy would in the end, unduly burden the taxpayers who would be ask to bear the brunt through additional taxes to defray the cost.
How then can the playing field be leveled? I was thinking more along the lines of toning down election expenses by several notches through the institution of uniform campaign strategies.
1) limiting campaign exposures to: 1.
1) Platform pamphlets, sample ballots and barn storming; 1.
2) Exclusion of broadcast media as campaign medium except Comelec sanctioned town hall debate.
2) public hearing of inclusions and exclusions, declaration of hot spots and alteration of election elements such as members of the board of canvassers.
3) suspension of certain executive and parliamentary powers of incumbents running for reelection.
4) publication of the statement of assets and liabilities of all candidates.
Pork Barrel Politics in this part of the world had become so lucrative that dynasties as a result would have to be a foregone conclusion.
At the heart of the mad rush to run for political positions, more so in the legislative branch, is the pork barrel, a misplaced component.
Infrastructure projects funded by pork barrels amounting to millions of pesos are perceived to be ladened with corruption.
The fight over the pork barrel cannot be more visible than the frenzy caused by the Comelec to purge the party list accreditation.
Instead of closing ranks as these entities proclaim the same agenda of representing the marginalized, the different parties vented hostilities on each other.
They have P70M annually worth of reasons to ensure staying on the list.
There was a time the president considered yanking the pork barrel.
Maybe it is time to review the situation.

Leave a reply