No Dynastic Reputation Is Immune

FVR urges Congress to pass anti-political dynasty bill
By Amita O. Legaspi
GMA News Online

Former President Fidel V. Ramos has added his voice to those calling for a law against political dynasties, admitting the absence of such has allowed rich and powerful families to abuse their authority and the country’s resources. “Nakikita naman natin na sinasarili nila ang mga [resources]… kakaunting pamilya na mayayaman, malalakas,” Ramos said in an exclusive interview with GMA News Online editor-in-chief and News To Go anchor Howie Severino aired Friday morning. 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. “Ang sabi ng Saligang Batas, that (dynasty) is prohibited, as may be defined by law. Pero hanggang ngayon, after [nearly] 26 years of the '87 Constitution of [the late President] Cory [Aquino], wala pang naisasabatas na definition of what is political dynasty kaya katakut-takot ‘yung turncoatism,” said Ramos, who succeeded Aquino in the presidency. “Simple lang ito: ilagay natin sa language of the Constitution ‘yung definition of political dynasty and the punishment or the penalty, if you are liable,” he added. 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 also said there is no need to amend the Constitution in order to put a stop to political dynasties.

“Para sa akin, dapat meron tayong maliit na reporma sana sa ating Saligang Batas. Hindi amendment to the Constitution ang pinag-uusapan [kundi] the enactment of the law to define what is a political dynasty,” he said. Ramos noted that the Constitution has a provision that bars the president from appointing any of his relatives to the fourth degree of affinity or consanguinity to an executive position. He was referring to 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 said this definition could be adopted in the anti-political dynasty bill.

“Ilagay din natin ‘yan sa political dynasty, para tapos na. Ngayon, ‘yung mga amendment or revision sa Saligang Batas ay mangyayari sa Kongreso ‘yan kaya mahirap din ang proseso na 'yan, pero meron tayong people's iniative,” Ramos said. At the Senate, an anti-dynasty bill — filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago — is still at the committee level. Under Senate Bill 2649, political dynasty exists when the spouse of an incumbent elective official or relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the former within the same province or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent official. The bill further states that political dynasty exists where two or more spouse or relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective public office within the same province, even if neither is related to an incumbent elective official.

According to Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, such bill will most likely be approved in the Senate, but not in the House of Representatives. He narrated that in 1995, the Senate was all set to submit a committee report on the anti-dynasty bill but decided against it upon learning that their counterparts in the House will not act on it. He said the 1995 version of the anti-dynasty bill had a specific, realistic definition of a dynasty. Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona had a similar experience. In 1987, the anti-dynasty bill introduced by Guingona passed the Senate with 16 votes in favor, three opposition, and one abstention, according to a 26-page petition for mandamus he filed Thursday with the Supreme Court asking it to compel Congress to craft an anti-dynasty law. "Congress [then] took no action on the bill passed by the Senate. The bill died in the House of Representatives," the petitioners, which included Guingona, said.


Few years ago, I was amazed to discover this mushroom growing on the cushion material of a wrecked chair in our junk pile.

If in government institutions where political dynasties are left to flourish unchecked and tolerated by the constituents, it would just be a matter of time before the virus of "innocent" corruption begins to grow like mushroom, and no dynastic reputation can ever be fully effective to immunize itself against the disease.