For decades, we often heard, in print and broadcast media, outcries banning political dynasty in local and national level political posts and calling for national legislators to enact an enabling law espousing the critical issue which many assert “detrimental to nation’s progress and a blight of democracy”.
The term is also known as oligarchy, an equivalent term in political science and is coined to describe a practice, or even a tradition referring to family members or people within the same bloodline, next of kin, or lineage who run for public office or it simply means the succession of family members into elected or appointed political offices. Some have voiced out that oligarchy is the root cause of all corruption in varying degree in the government which transcends not only from past and present generations but to posterity as well.
This radical issue arises or becomes the talk of the town every time there is a forthcoming election whether in local or national polls. One prominent senator openly remarked that the issues of culminating oligarchy often beseech by those aspiring to be voted for public office that have no track record of good public service within their family line or are neophyte aspiring candidates creating clamors just to be recognized and frequently bashing those names with known political affiliation in order to exalt their selves.
Also, as one eminent professor asserts that “there are good and bad political dynasties”. He distinguishes: “bad political dynasties” is that which resort to illegal means to keep their rivals out of office, and “benevolent political dynasties” which do not trace their political supremacy to such negative factors.
Nonetheless, with all due respect to opposite assertions, the very fact that its influence remains prevalence, the notion of political dynasties have long been present in democracies, raising concerns that disparity in the distribution of political power may reflect flaws in democratic representations which are indicative of an evident abomination of genuine democracy. In fine, it has been recognized that politicians who hold power for a longer time become more likely to have relatives entering public offices in the future.
Thus, in politics, “power begets power”. The 1987 Philippine Constitution clearly states in Article II Section 26, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law. ” This means that the fundamental law of the land expressly commands the Congress to pass a law defining political dynasty in order to invoke such provision otherwise it remains dormant and persons belong to political clan continue to benefit therefrom, thus cannot be barred to run for public office.
Needless to say, our Constitution explicitly prohibits the existence of political dynasties but the provision is not in itself self-executing because of the qualifying term used “as may be defined by law”, which means it needs an enabling law to implement the same which the Congress, as mandated by the Constitution, is obliged to enact but because majority of the lawmakers are either scions, minions or kingpins of a political clan, no one has the courage to step up and perform an exceptional instance which many stress a kind of “political suicide”. At any rate, what is wrong with political dynasty?
Well, with respect to the issue, I stand the view that there is really nothing wrong with political dynasty but only the principles that are wrongly embraced by political families through the years. And because of these rotten principles fueled by selected few, some of them tend to utilize the prodigious advantage of being a member of affluent political clan in pursuance of their personal interests and often manipulate the order not only in politics but also in economic trends, which by the nature of their social status, is susceptible to their own whims or caprices.
It is, for me, a mockery of genuine public service and a manifest betrayal of public confidence and trusts which indubitably the reasons why in the first place, they are in the public office. These political elites use democracy as a tool to fool and deceive their respective constituents through false wide spread publicity and venomous hidden political agenda on the pretext of lauding themselves as righteous and honest public servants which by so doing, gradually depreciate the concept of real democratic government.
Although, we cannot totally wipe out the notion of political dynasty because it has been part of our culture, as family-oriented nation, we have always been penchant to put our families first above anyone else, as an old adage goes “blood is thicker than water”: thus, it is of no wonder why political families are existent and continue to feast influence in all aspect of our socio-economic life.
It is also noteworthy to consider that since it is inevitable, yes, we can tolerate this kind of practice as long as they serve the public with utmost genuine interests above their personal predilections and advance the general welfare of the people whom they actually owe. But, when vanity strikes, this laud idea is apparently not possible to happen because human by nature is selfish and this insatiable greed leads to harrowing impression of dynastic prevalence.
However, we cannot blame those people running for public office whose names have long been vestige with remarkable prestige in political arena because in the same above mentioned provision in the Constitution also provides that “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service”. This means that no person be denied equal opportunity to hold public office as long as he possesses the qualifications required by law to be admitted in public position but this does not mean that the provision is absolute because conflict of interest should also be taken into consideration in choosing one who is fit into office.
This provision, I think is the necessary consequence that political dynasty is invariably existent and prevalent by which we can tacitly inferred that political dynasty is not ever ephemeral. As prominent lawyer once opined that “the common retorts of beneficiaries of feudal political dynasties are: let the people decide during the election, corruption is the issue (not dynasties), let the merits of the candidates prevail, it’s normal for children to follow the career path of their parents, and the like.
But this statement is of no excuse and predominantly self-serving which would tend to warrant their obvious admittance into public office. It is ironic to proclaim that we live in a democratic country yet we have been ruled by selected few with imperialism attitude who transformed our nation with abundant economic resources to a parasite republic whose own purses are filled with government’s coffers which are supposed or intended to be used for nation’s development and progress and not for their own personal comforts which in reality, is the actual case.
With regard to the solution of this far reaching issue, sad to say, there is no anti-dynasty bill has ever passed the Committee level so far. Although, there is a prompt move to address the issue by anti-dynasty crusaders for the immediate passage of the law catering the matter in dispute and this actually has been espoused in House Bill 3413 which defines and prohibits olitical dynasty both in local and national level which is still pending in the Congress, and yet, as stressed with expressed disappointments by BayanMuna representative that, “the country’s political parties openly disregard to tackle the issue during conference meeting and most of them were not attending the hearing and manifest disinterest to discuss the problem at hand” which largely implies of their silent contradiction or disaffirmance to pass a law that would resolve the potential issue on political dynasty which I think, in my own view, why politicians remain dormant about the matter obviously, lest or with apprehensions that their close or immediate relatives or family members will be barred to hold public office if they done so and which would lead us to the question, “ how could you expect a Congress to pass a law that would address the issue on political dynasty when majority of the seats were filled or affiliated with political clan or well-to-do families in political dominion? ”.
But despite these various propositions, I believe that as a democratic country, there is always a room for change and this change lies within the hands of electorate, since their powers emanate from us, the same way can they be ousted in political circus. Thus, we should not allow that genuine democracy be totally deteriorated by perpetuating those who are in power, those who are abusive and advantageous of their social status quo, we absolutely can make genuine change by hindering them into office through intelligent casting of our votes and not be overwhelmed by false publicity and adept vote buying facilitated by unscrupulous candidates. Now, we are just left with two choices: fight for genuine democracy and let corrupt political dynasties fade on their own or forever be oblivion in a fad mentality that will only brought us to a sheer socio-political depravity.