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SYNOPSIS OF THE ANTI-POLITICAL DYNASTY BILL

Background

The anti-political dynasty
bill, otherwise known as Under Senate
Bill 2649, was authored by Senator
Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Under the
bill, the spouse of an incumbent
elective official or relative within the
second civil degree of consanguinity
or affinity is banned to hold or run for
an elective position 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. A similar measure authored by Bayan Muna parylist Rep Teddy
CAsio at the House of Representatives is also pending committee approval.

As early as 1995, versions of the bill were filed at the Senate by then
Senator Orlando Mercado. In 1987, the anti-dynasty bill introduced by then
Senator Teofisto Guingona passed the Senate with 16 votes in favor, three
opposition, and one abstention. However, the bill did not pass in the House of
Representatives.

Recent developments

The Senate has started on 23 October discussion on the anti-
political dynasty bill However, most of the senators believed that the bill could
not be acated upon in time with the 2013 local elections, citing the Senates
pending pieces of legislation in the Senate and it would be difficult to include
the bill as a priority measure. The Senate is expected to focus attention on the
proposed P2-trillion national budget for 2013 when it resumes session on Nov. 5 in
order to have it enacted into law before yearend. Aside from the budget bill,
the Senate also has a number of priority measures pending approval, such as
the sin tax bill, the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the
controversial Reproductive Health bill. With elections coming up in May next
year, most of the senators would also be busy campaigning, leaving little time
for legislative work.

Sen. Sergio Osmea III said on 26 Oct that he does not see any
problem with the bill hurdling the Senate but as far as the House of
Representatives is concerned, that would be a problem. Osmea recalled that
during the 10th Congress in 1995, a similar bill was debated in the Senate but
was archived because it did not have the support of the House of
Representatives.

The crafting of the anti-political dynasty bill has recently generated
support from the different sectors. Among the notable supporters were Former
President Fidel V. Ramos, who said that the absence of such has allowed rich
and powerful families to abuse their authority and the countrys resources. He
cited 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." He added that Article VII, Section 13
paragraph 2 which states that: The spouse and relatives by consanguinity or
affinity within the fourth civil degree of the President shall not, during his tenure,
be appointed as Members of the Constitutional Commissions, or the Office of
the Ombudsman, or as Secretaries, Undersecretaries, chairmen or heads of
bureaus or offices, including government-owned or controlled corporations and
their subsidiaries. He lamented the fact that more than two decades after the
Constitution was crafted, Congress has yet to define what a dynasty is, therefore
preventing it from coming up with a law against political dynasties.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on 25 Oct
asked the Supreme Court to compel Congress to act on a bill against political
dynasties. In their 26 page petition for mandamus, the members of the group
said political dynasty should be prohibited because it is inimical to the
guarantee given to the citizens of the right to equal access to opportunities for
public service. Petitioners said Congress has wantonly neglected to pass a
law against political dynasty. Aside from VACC, joining the petition include
former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, lawyers Eduardo Bringas, Vicente
Velasquez and retired General Raymundo Jarque.