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THE ANTI-POLITICAL DYNASTY LAW: A NECESSITY?

A Research Proposal by Horeb Felix B. Villa, LLB-1

Part I: INTRODUCTION

A. RATIONALE OF THE STUDY

Article II, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution states that “The State shall
guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political
dynasties as may be defined by law.” And in every Congress that has ever been
formed since 1987, many legislators have filed bills to implement this constitutional
provision, and define what political dynasties are, and how effectively prohibit them
so as to ensure equal opportunities for all for public service. Yet, to date, no bill has
ever become a law. Many people say that Congress will never pass such a measure
because passing the measure could mean the end of many political dynasties’ reign
over their constituents.

Many people and groups who advocate the regulation or prohibition of dynasties
in the Philippine political arena say that prohibition or at least regulation of these
dynasties would give spirit to the intent of the framers of the Constitution for the state
to guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and so that the Filipino
people would be more sufficiently represented, and to curb the current monopoly of
power which these prominent political families currently possess. Yet there are also
people who advocate for the retention of the status quo as political dynasties have
proven themselves worthy of the votes of the electorate as they have served their
respective localities efficiently and passionately for the longest time, since time
immemorial.

In recent years, there have been many people who advocated for the passage of
such a bill like President Benigno Aquino III who advocated for one in his 2015 State
of the Nation Address (SONA). Others such as Senator Franklin Drilon, the late
former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Representative Feliciano Belmonte of
Quezon City have filed various measures to curb political dynasties in the country
during the last administration, but according to Belmonte, “That measure is as good as
dead, and that the next Congress has a better chance of passing the measure”
(Belmonte, 2016). In the current Congress, various measures to curb Political
Dynasties have been filed, such as House Bill No. 00911 by Representative Harry
Roque of the Kabayan Partylist Group and Senate Bill No. 049 by Senator Panfilo
“Ping” Lacson. 1 Many other congressmen and senators have also filed their
counterpart bills relating to this issue. Although these bills are still in the committee
level, many have expressed hope that the long awaited Anti Political Dynasty Law
would be passed during the 17th Congress.

This study is of utmost importance in light of the Constitutional provision


prohibiting political dynasties, and the urgent need for a law to give teeth to such. It is
of utmost importance that the state regulate if not out rightly prohibit political
dynasties to give other qualified people the chance to serve the country in government
positions who would otherwise have little to no chance of running much less be
elected into office because of the dominance of these political dynasties in the
Philippines.

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Political Dynasties in General

Political Dynasties have been defined in the dictionary as groups who occupy the
same elective positions for many successive elections. The Commission on Elections
have also defined Political Dynasties as as a situation where people related to each
other within the third civil degree of affinity hold elective office simultaneously or
some offices successively in a region, legislative district, province, city or
municipality. Many political dynasties have been there since the time of the Spaniards,
and many have evolved over time. In the Philippines, political dynasties are a
common phenomenon in almost every province. Statistics from the University of the
Philippines in 2013 show that 250 families have dominated Philippine politics in the
national and local level. This represents only about 0.00001667 percent of the
country’s over 15 million families. Of all the political dynasties in the Philippines, 56
percent of these came from old political elites, or those families who have dominated
Philippine politics since onset of our independence from Spain in 1898 and the United
States and Japan in 1946 while 44% of the political dynasties in the Philippines
emerged after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. Furthermore, 73 out of the 80 provinces in
the Philippines or 94 percent have existing political dynasties. Prime examples of
these are the Marcoses of Ilocos, the Aquinos of Tarlac, the Arroyos of Pampanga,
Ampatuans of Maguindanao, the Dutertes and Nograleses of Davao, the Osmeñas of
Cebu, and the Binays of Makati to name a few.

According to a study conducted by the Asian Institute of Management or AIM


entitled “An Empirical Analysis of Political Dynasties in the 15th Philippine
Congress” (2012), over 70 percent of the House of Representatives in the 15th
Congress (2010-2013) came from political dynasties. In the Senate, the number was
even higher at 80 percent or 18 out of the 24 senators in the 15th Congress. At the
onset of the 2016 elections more than three- fourths of the elected officials in both the
national and local levels come from political dynasties.

“Fat” Political Dynasties vs. “Thin” Political Dynasties


Political and legal analysts have also observed that there are two kinds of political
dynasties in the Philippines. The AIM Policy Center has noted that political dynasties
may be categorized as “fat” and “thin” (Mendoza, 2013). According to the study,
“fat” dynasties are political families that have several members holding elective
positions in a certain local government for three years. A “thin” dynasty is a political
clan that only has two members – like a father and son – swapping certain positions,
as when a mayor-father, at the end of his maximum three terms, lets his son, who may
also have reached his three-year term either as vice mayor, councilor, provincial
governor or vice governor, running for each other’s position. In the Philippines, “fat”
dynasties are more prevalent than “thin” ones, with the study citing the Ampatuans of
Magunidanao topping the list of “fat” dynasties in the country, despite the notoriety
they received due to the infamous Maguindanao massacre in 2009, where 57 people,
mostly journalists and media men were killed in what is regarded as the most bloodly
display of election related violence in the entire Philippine political and electoral
history, as well as the single largest murder of journalists in the Philippines.

Political Dynasties in Other Countries

Political Dynasties are not common to the Philippines alone. There are many
prominent political dynasties worldwide. In Singapore, the Lees have dominated the
national political arena since their independence in the 1950s. There are also the
Gandhis of India, the Duvaliers of Haiti, and the Kennedys, Bushes and Clintons in
the United States.But unlike the Philippines, in the United States, political dynasties
only take up about 6 percent of the legislature compared to the Philippines of more
than 70 percent of the legislature being dominated by political dynasties. Furthermore,
the Philippines has been described by many experts both within the country and
internationally as “the political dynasty of the world” due to the rampant proliferation
of this phenomenon all over the country.

Political Dynasties vis-a-vis Development

Many economic and political analysts both in the Philippines and abroad say that
political dynasties hamper the the country’s full potential for development. First and
foremost, according to economic managers from the Philippine Statistics Authority
(PSA), the phenomenon on political dynasties blatantly shows the rampant inequality
in the country and it just shows how large the gap between the rich and the poor are.
Many analysts have linked political dynasties to rampant poverty and the huge gap
between the wealthy and the impoverished. Many economic analysts have shown that
in impoverished areas, political dynasties continue to thrive because of rampant
patron- client relationships, as evidenced by the “help” given by politicians to poor
families in terms of financial aid, health and education services, and many more in
exchange for votes from these poor individuals. These analysts have also noted that
political dynasties thrive in these areas because of coercion and moral pressures of
politicians for the electorate to vote for them by means of vote buying, intimidation
and even threats to one’s own life and that of his/her family. These are seen as means
for politicians to perpetuate themselves in power and to solidify their control over
their respective localities. But this does not mean that political dynasties thrive only in
poor, impoverished localities. We also see many dynasties thriving in highly
urbanized areas in the country such as Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and elsewhere.
Many attribute the thriving of these dynasties to name recall, wherein voters simply
vote for the candidates due to familiarity, and also because there are no other
candidates running for a certain position, thus people from the same families are still
put into positions of power be it in poor rural areas, or in the highly urbanized cities in
the country. Truly, political dynasties are rampant almost everywhere you go in the
Philippines.2

Many have also noted that because of this huge disparity between the rich
political families and the impoverished, many people who are eligible (and deserving)
for public office are prevented from either running for a position or winning in an
election because they are not well known due to lack of airtime in various media to
make themselves known to the electorate and present their platforms. In many
prominent political dynasties however, they are seen to have a far better chance of
winning because (1) they are already well known to the general public, (2) they have
sufficient funds and finances to back their campaigns, and (3) They have rich and
influential backers to support them in their campaigns. These are things most
neophyte and impoverished aspiring politicians do not have, thus they are made to
work even harder than the so-called traditional politicians or “trapos” as they are
commonly known to make themselves well known and get themselves elected.3

Why Political Dynasties Exist

According to a leading Irish political analyst Eoin O’ Malley, the main reason
why political dynasties exist is simply because many children of politicians simply
inherit a staunch interest in politics from their ascendants. They may be interested in
politics for many reasons, be it for the money, fame and prestige, political capital, and
many more (O’Malley, 2015). Furthermore, political dynasties continue to exist
because the electorate or the voting population keep on voting for them for many
reasons as well, such as “utang na loob” or gratitude for the help and aid they
received in the past, or name recall, as well as so called reliability in public service. In
numerous surveys conducted during the onset of the campaign for the 2016 elections
about political dynasties, it showed that Filipinos in general are split over the matter
of political dynasties. Of the 1,200 respondents surveyed by the Social Weather
Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia, about 32 percent said that they would not vote for
candidates from political dynasties, 34 percent were undecided, while another 34
percent said that they would vote for candidate from political dynasties. It just goes to
show that a significant portion Filipinos still support political dynasties.

Arguments for Political Dynasties

So far, the arguments made in this paper tend to lean towards being against
political dynasties for various reasons, but it would also be remiss to say that political
dynasties are all bad. Notwithstanding the constitutional provisions prohibiting
political dynasties, political dynasties also do have their pros and advantages. For one,
many people in favor of these dynasties contend that these dynasties are seen as a sign
of stability and continuity of the good works done by the members of a certain
political clan. Many candidates flaunt their family’s brand of “continuous public
service” as a reason why voters should elect candidates coming from prominent
political families. Some candidates even go to the extent of flaunting their relationship
to a certain politician and their track record to show that they too, are worthy of the
votes of the electorate, and that once elected into office, they would continue the
brand of public service which their family members have started. Some politicians
like the Binays even question the rationale of a anti political dynasty law asking the
question, why should people prevent a qualified candidate from running simply
because they are part of a so called political dynasty? Why would people prevent the
electorate from voting people with political familial ties whose so-called brand of
public service has already been “tested and proven” by their many years of service in
the localities they serve?4 These arguments, plus the arguments for the prohibition of
political dynasties have sparked and perpetuated the ongoing debates on political
dynasties and their relevance, advantages, disadvantages, their legality and
constitutionality, and their relationship to the Filipino people. Meanwhile, political
dynasties continue to thrive and flourish in most parts of the country, most especially
in localities where poverty are rampant.5

B. ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The main issue in this study pertains to the question of the legality of the current
political dynasties in the government despite the constitutional prohibition of political
dynasties. Under the 1987 Constitution (Article II, Section 26), are the current
political dynasties in our government today legal due to the fact that Congress is yet
to pass an enabling law on the measure to give teeth to the constitutional provision?

Accordingly, this study has the following objectives:


1. To determine the legality of those political dynasties in our government as of
the present;
2. To determine the chances that the current anti political dynasty laws filed in
Congress has in being passed into law and the effects that that law could have to the
future of Philippine politics.

RESEARCH PLAN

Research Activity Expected Deadline Expected Output


Online research of the pertinent Last week of August to first week of Summary of the relevant
statutory sources, cases by the September provisions of the laws,
Supreme Court, newspaper articles on legal doctrines as stated
the matter. by the Supreme Court ,
and statements of
legislators and experts
on the Possibility of the
passage of the Anti
Political Dynasty into
law.
Analysis of the results of the 3rd to 4th week of September Aggregation and
research for the analysis portion Agreements on the
analysis of the study and
conclusion of the study.
Writing and editing of the Final Paper 1st week of October Final Research Paper

II. RESEARCH PROPER

A. PERTINENT STATUTORY LAWS INVOLVED

1. The 1987 Constitution.


The first and most fundamental source of this Anti Political dynasty bill is the
Constitution. Therein, in Article II, which is the Declaration of State Principles and Policies,
it states to wit:

“SECTION 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public
service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

This provision in the Constitution originated as Section 23 of Article II which stated that
"The State shall broaden opportunities to public office and prohibit political dynasties.”6
Later, as the deliberations progressed, the provision was amended to the provision now found
in the Constitution.

During the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, (the team which drafted our
current Constitution) Commissioner Wilfredo Villacorta asked on how exactly to broaden
opportunities to public service and how to exactly prohibit political dynasties. In his answer,
Commissioner Jose Nolledo stated that he takes into consideration the political realities in the
Philippines, where there are “small political kingdoms in different parts of the country.” He
then went on further to state that in the provisions on the Articles on the Executive and the
Legislative Departments, reelection was allowed. He cited the situations where when an
elective public official who is already barred by his/her constitutional term limits (most
especially for local public officials) asks a close family member to take his place, i.e. the
spouse, the son or daughter, the sister or any close relative. In the meantime, that local official
holds public office while the campaign is going on and since that official already has control
and he/she had already institutionalized himself/herself, his/her son or daughter or any other
close relative will inherit the position currently held by the aforementioned public official,
and then this will go to the grandson, et cetera. This situation, Commissioner Nalledo stated,
prevents those who do not have the political advantage in the sense that they have no control

6
(R.C.C. No. 085, [September 17, 1986])
of government facilities will be denied the right to run for public office and in effect, they are
deprived from being given ample opportunities for public service. He then remarked that in
this kind of situation, public office becomes inherited and our government becomes
monarchial in character and is thus no longer constitutional. As to prohibition of political
dynasties, Nolledo stated that the Commission is leaving it to Congress to determine the
circumstances under which political dynasty is prohibited.7
|||

This provision in the Constitution has been seen by many as teethless and unenforceable,
as the Congress is left with the sole discretion on how to deal with political dynasties. The
clause “as may be defined by law” is, according to many, the reason why the country still does
not have an anti-dynasty law as the people comprising the Congress would never pass such a
law because that to them would be tantamount to political suicide for it might limit their
opportunities to the rights, privileges and even the money that being in politics bring.
According to Hector de Leon in his book “Textbook on the Philippine Constitution”8 The
Constitutional mandate on the prohibition of political dynasties express a national
commitment to democratize election and appointment to the government and eliminate a
principal obstacle to “equal opportunities for public service.” He also notes that the provision
in the Constitution expressly mandates the Congress to prohibit political dynasties and that
Congress has no discretion on the matter except merely to spell out the meaning and scope of
the term.

2. Bills Pending in the Congress

Since there is no law prohibiting political dynasties as of yet, this study’s main focus is
on the bills currently pending in both Houses of Congress as well as previous bills filed
during previous Congresses. Currently, there are only a few bills pending in Congress seeking
to implement the Constitutional prohibition on political dynasties. The first bill is with the
Senate, Senate Bill (S.B.) No. 49, filed by Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and the second is in
the House of Representatives, House Bill No. 00911 filed by Representative Harry Roque of
the Kabayan Partylist Group, and many other congressmen and senators have also filed
counterpart bills to prohibit political dynasties. In the bill filed by Lacson in the Senate
entitled “An Act To Prohibit The Establishment Of Political Dynasties”, in Section 5 thereof,
the persons prohibited from running are the spouses, and any relative within the second
degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether legitimate or illegitimate, full or half blood, to an
incumbent elective official seeking re-election, and they are not allowed to run or hold office
in the same city, municipality or province in the same election. The bill also states that in case
the position of the relative is national in character, the relatives mentioned shall only be
prohibited from running in the province or city where the incumbent official is a registered
voter. In case where none of the candidates is related to an incumbent elective official within
the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, but are related to each other within the said
prohibited degree, they too, including their spouses shall be disqualified from holding or
running for elective office within the same city and/or province in the same election. Lastly,
Section 5 of SB No. 49 states that in no cases shall a person who has a political dynasty
relationship to the incumbent immediately succeed to the position of the latter. But, Punong
Barangays and members of Sangguniang Barangay are not covered by this prohibition.
Section 9 of the same bill mandates the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to deny due
course to any Certificate of Candidacy (COC) filed in violation of this act. Finally, Section 10
of this bill states that if, for reasons beyond the control of the COMELEC, the petition cannot
be decided before the completion of the canvass, the votes of the respondent shall be included

7 Id.

8 De Leon, H. “Textbook on the Philippine Constitution”. 2011 Edition.


in the counting and canvassing, and if the evidence of disqualification is strong, the the
proclamation of the candidate shall be suspended notwithstanding the fact that he/she won
most number of votes. If in the event such a candidate is proclaimed, the dynasty relationship
of the candidate shall be grounds for his/her disqualification from the office in the appropriate
quo warranto proceeding.9

A counterpart measure was also filed in the House of Representatives by Rep. Harry
Roque of the Kabayan Partylist. House Bill No. 0091 entitled “An Act To Defining and
Prohibiting the Establishment Of Political Dynasties.” In the bill, it states that a political
dynasty exists when a person who is a spouse of an incumbent elective official or relative
within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity runs or holds an elective office
simultaneously with the incumbent elective official within the same province or occupies the
same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective official. The
provisions of the bill are largely the same with that of its Senate counterpart, with a minute
exception that with regards to the effect of the petition for disqualification if unresolved
before the completion of the canvass, in cases where the disqualified candidate has been
proclaimed, he/she shall ipso facto forfeit his/her right to the office.10

Another bill also filed in the House, introduced by Congressmen Neri J. Colmenares,
Carlos Isagani T. Zarate, Luzviminda C. Ilagan, Emmi A. De Jesus, Antonio L. Tinio,
Fernando Hicap, Terry Ridon, and Edgardo Erice, House Bill No. 172 entitled “An Act
Prohibiting The Establishment Of Political Dynasties” with almost the same provisions as
those of the bills introduced by Senator Lacson and Rep. Harry Roque, with the small
addition enshrined in Section 6 thereof that the person running for office shall file a sworn
statement with the COMELEC that he or she does not have a political dynasty relationship
with an incumbent elective official running for an elective public office in the same city
and/or province other than that of the position earlier mentioned.11

Past Bills Filed

During the 15th Congress (2010-2013), Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago also filed a
bill, Senate Bill 2649, entitled “An Act To Prohibit The Establishment Of Political Dynasties”.
In its explanatory note, it states that this bill was introduced “To give force and effect to the
Constitutional provision (Article II, Sec.26). It also states that the playing field of the political
arena should be leveled and opened to persons who are equally qualified to aspire on even
terms with those from ruling politically dominant families.” It also states that “The monopoly
of political power and public resources by such families affects the citizenry at the local and
national levels.” Thus, the author, (Senator Santiago) posits that the anti-political dynasty bill
introduced her should be passed. Unfortunately however, this bill never even passed the
committee level. The provisions of this bill are also similar to the bills mentioned above. It
would even seem that the bills pending in the Congress today, were derived from this bill
introduced by the former Senator. It states the scope of the prohibition for people related to
incumbent public elective officials to run (within the second degree of consanguinity or
affinity), it also states the Effect of Petition if Unresolved Before Completion of Canvass, and
many more.12 Other bills on the same topic were also filed by then senator Alfredo Lim in

9 https://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/2346220046!.pdf
10 http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_17/HB00911.pdf
11 http://www.bayanmuna.net/content/house-bill-172-anti-political-dynasty-bill

12 http://senate.gov.ph/lisdata/106169091!.pdf
2004 (SB-1317), Senator Panfilo Lacson in 2007 (SB-1468), and Rep. Teddy Casino (House
Bill-2493) also in 2007,13 but just like the bill of Senator Santiago, these bills never saw the
light of day as a law to implement the Constitutional provision prohibiting political dynasties
“as may be defined by law.”

B. PERTINENT CASE LAW

In Biraogo v. Commission on Elections14, the Supreme Court denied the petitioner’s


petition for mandamus in seeking that the Court to disqualify candidates running in the 2013
elections for being part of political dynasties. The Court in denying such petition, said that the
provision in Article II Section 26 of the Constitution is not a self-executing provision, and
absent a law implementing such provision, the Court cannot bar the candidates from running
for office. Congress has first to enact a law to prohibit political dynasties for this provision to
fully take effect. In 2012, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. also filed a petition
before the Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus and compel Congress to pass the
pending bills regarding the political dynasty issue to law. But just like the Biraogo petition,
the high court dismissed the petition because there is yet no implementing law on the matter,
and for the Supreme Court to compel Congress to enact a law would be violative of the
doctrine of Separation of Powers and Article VI, Section 1, which states that “The legislative
power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a
House of Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on
initiative and referendum.”15 In the United States, one of the leading cases on political
dynasties is the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission16 where the US
Supreme Court, overturned the ban on certain types of corporate expenditures for political
candidates said that "Americans have never been keen on dynasties" stating in its decision that
Americans tend to view political dynasties with disfavor, but did acknowledge their presence
in American politics such as the Kennedys, the Bushes, the Clintons (then Senator Hillary
Clinton was the subject of this case) and many others.

C. OTHER STUDIES ON POLITICAL DYNASTIES

From a sociological point of view, the rise of political dynasties in the Philippines
signaled a growing sense of inequality in access to power and political influence. Sociologists
say that this phenomenon could greatly affect the persistence and prevalence of social and
economic divides (Mendoza, 2012).17 Many economists and political scientists have also
linked political dynasties to poverty. Researchers from the AIM Policy Center say that on
average, there are more dynasties in regions with higher poverty and lower human
development.18

13 http://pilipino-express.com/features/anak/1417-philippine-political-dynasties.html

14 G.R. No. 203603. January 8, 2013.

15http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/297800/it-s-final-sc-won-t-compel-congress-to-e
nact-anti-political-dynasty-law/story/

16 558 U.S. 310 (2010)


17 Mendoza, R. Dynasties in democracies: The political side of inequality. Vox. 11 March 2012. From
http://voxeu.org/article/dynasties-democracies-political-side-inequality
18 http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_9551-1442-2-30.pdf?130430055519
A study conducted by Stanford University in 2015 correlates the presence and prevalence
of political dynasties to the quality of a country’s government and its impact on the overall
development of the country. It does acknowledge the advantages of dynastic families such as
continuity in public service, but it also highlights its glaring disadvantages. One of which is
massive inequality between the rich and the poor, poor policy development, and many more.
It notes that countries that have a prevalence of dynastic families in their political arena
(Brazil, Haiti, the Philippines and others) are usually underdeveloped and poorly managed. 19

Finally, research teams from the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) have
come up with the conclusion that political dynasties weaken the state. That a country ruled
and characterized by oligarchy can never ‘strengthen’ itself to reach its full potential. In an
article published by the group entitled “Political Dynasties Weaken the State” 20it states that
because of political dynasties, the Philippines does not only have a defective democracy and
an oligarchy but also a weak State struggling to craft “an optimal economic calculus”
(Heydarian, 2013). To reform this system, the author suggests that specific structural and
institutional reforms have to be taken, which would need amendments to the 1987
Constitution. They advocate for federalism and a parliamentary form of government, and they
also ask the President of the Philippines to strengthen the country not just by Charter Change
and the advocacies that they are pushing for, but also through reform legislation such as the
passage of the Anti- Political Dynasty Bill into law.21

19 https://web.stanford.edu/~juanfrr/bragancaferrazrios2015.pdf
20 Abueva, J. “Political Dynasties Weaken the State”. 08 May 2013. From
http://iag.org.ph/index.php/blog/286-political-dynasties-weaken-the-state
21 Id.
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