A survey of a cross section of the community in Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental showed divided views on political dynasties that is the subject of ongoing debates on its constitutionality and of calls to stop the practice in the Philippines.
Dumaguete City Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova, who is running for mayor in 2013 against incumbent Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria, said political dynasty is discouraged by the constitution, but this provision is deemed to be only “directory”.
He said an enabling law must be passed by Congress to give teeth to it, but for whatever reason known only to them, Congress has not passed any such law. Until then, there is no legal definition of a political dynasty and its corresponding consequences, he said.
Sagarbarria said he does not believe in political dynasties because no one is exactly the same as another. There are good leaders serving the government who bear the same family names as corrupt ones, he added. “Why restrict them?” he asked.
Dumaguete Sangguniang Panlungsod member Antonio Remollo, who comes from a family of politicians, said political dynasties can be good as long as they have good leaders and they win, not because of money, but because their constituents want them in public service.
The three were reacting to Senate Bill 2649, or the anti-political dynasty proposal, authored by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, now pending in the Senate.
It states that political dynasty "shall exist when a person, who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official, or relative within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official, holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent official within the same province, or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent.”
It shall also be deemed to exist where two or more persons who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree of consanguinity, run simultaneously for elective public office in the same province, the bill said.
Former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves agreed that an enabling legislation is needed. Teves, who is running for governor of Negros Oriental in the May 13, 2013 elections, said there are still no operational terms for political dynasty.
On the public perception of the Teves clan as a political dynasty, the former third district congressman said it is the people who should decide, and the voters always have a choice on whom to elect.
“Political dynasties are not necessarily bad. If you put restrictions on a qualified person because he or she is related to an incumbent, you are limiting that person’s chance to serve the public,” he added.
Teves’ father, Herminio, served as 3rd district congressman for several terms. The incumbent solon, Henry Pryde Teves, is Herminio’s grandson. Another Teves, Arnulfo Jr., is Henry’s brother, and is a Sangguniang Panlalawigan board member. The two are also running in May 2013.
Rep. George Arnaiz (Neg. Or., 2nd District), also comes from a family of politicians and said he hopes that, if there will be a law on political dynasties, it will be fair, equal and applicable to all.
“I was asked if the Arnaiz family had a dynasty in Negros Oriental, and my answer is that, it depends on the definition of the word ‘dynasty’,” he said.
His brother, Apolinario Jr., is the vice governor of Negros Oriental; another brother, Apollo, is the mayor of the family’s hometown of Pamplona; and their late father, Apolinario Sr., had served the SP until the time of his death a few years back.
Former journalist Andrea Trinidad Echavez, who works as freelance communications specialist and consultant, said no family should have the monopoly of serving the people. “Political dynasties encourage patronage politics, whether we like it or not.”
Her family is related to many politicians in Guihulngan, and she said it is sometimes a dilemma on whom they should support during elections.
Rev. Archie Toroy of the Diocese of Dumaguete said he is against political dynasties as they do not promote the check-and-balance of political interests, like projects, health care, environmental concerns, and drug-related issues.
Bais businessman Ricky Soler Jr. said he does not favor it due to the tendency of dynasties to centralize powers and influence on a particular family, protecting their own interests over that of the public.*JFP/JG/MA
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