Political dynasty debate
Atty. Whelma Siton-Yap

The 1987 Constitution, Article II, State Policies, Sec. 26 provide: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties, as may be defined by law.”

In our system, it is the legislative branch composed of duly elected Representatives who are supposed to pass a law defining the nature of a political dynasty, criminalizing violations, prohibitions, and penalties.

From the time the 1987 Constitution took effect up to the present, no such law defining and prohibiting “political dynasty” has been passed.

In many commentaries and debates, in various venues, in the public market, barbershops, beauty shops, schools, radio, television, church, and print media, opinions abound as to the problem of political dynasty.

Can the Binay family be considered a political dynasty? Yes, admitted Mayor Jun-jun Binay, brother of Nancy Binay, son of VP Jejomar Binay, and former Makati Mayor Dr. Elenita Binay: “We are a political dynasty of service.”

The name “Binay” is apparently a saleable name brand, and the survey shows that Nancy Binay ranks in the upper 5 to 7 slots among the senatorial candidates.

The same can be said of the name brands Aquino, Ejercito-Estrada, Cayetano, Enrile, and Angara.

Rightly or wrongly, at the end of the day, it is the voters who will decide as to whoever is entitled to hold an elective public office.

The morality of voting members of the same family to elective positions is an important particle of our young democracy. Does it limit access to public office or does it produce an unleveled, skewed political playing field?

We have to go back to the context from which this constitutional provision came about. To recall, the dreaded and infamous excesses and abuses by the Martial Law rulers was effected by the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, close relatives, by affinity, consanguinity and proximity, the Romualdezes and the Marcoses, their cronies, in various influential and powerful positions both in the public and private sector.

The control of government was concentrated by the Marcos and Romualdez family, relatives and favored friends, to the detriment of the interest of the many and the common good. The whole nation suffered.

It seems that Filipinos have forgotten that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!”, and because we are Filipinos, we are so family- oriented, the temptation to protect the family interest first is so great.

Should we ban and prohibit political dynasties? By the recent survey results, most Filipinos are impervious to the warnings on the dangers of electing members of the same family to elective public office.

Negros Oriental is identified with the name brand “Teves”, starting with the late Sen. Lorenzo Teves who was in public service for 45 years.

Over the years, his brother, former Cong. Herminio “Meniong” Teves held various elective positions, and it seems the name brand is still marketable up to the present, as we have those with the “Teves” name such as the grandsons, 3rd District Cong. Henry Pryde Teves and Board Member Arnie Teves. Son Gary Teves is now candidate for Governor; he was a former congressman, Finance Secretary, President of Landbank, etc. No question about it, Gary is more than qualified to run for public office in his own right.

However, even those who are not in the direct family line but with the same family name “Teves” are also holding public office, for example, Mayor Lawrence Teves of Tanjay City. Were they elected because of the “Teves” brand name or because the voters believed in their leadership or type of public service? Yes, again, it is the voters who will decide.

But even those of the same Teves family are rumored to have broken ranks. Recently, a televised interview of a Teves family member insinuated that he was favoring a candidate other then his close blood relative.

There are instances like in Camarines Sur where Luis Villafuerte is challenged by his grandson, for the governorship. Many members of the same family are running against each other - mother Glenda Ecleo versus daughter Jane, for example. It is really a confusing and complicated question.

Ask yourself: Are you concerned that politicians are perpetuating a culture of political dynasty? Can you do anything about it? Or will you vote according to your evaluation of who is the best person who can do the job, regardless of family name?

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