Political rights

COMMENT: Political dynasties vs. Political rights

MELBOURNE, Australia (MindaNews / Aug 11) – The main problem hampering the enactment of a political anti-dynasty law is the reality that at least 70% of members of Congress belong to political dynasties.

The senator primarily responsible for this task is said to have even said that, although political anti-dynasty bills have been introduced in Congress, “everything he got was lip service from members of Congress, many of whom did not want to tamper with the measure with a ten foot post for the obvious self-preservation of family clan members who have held various elected government positions.

But the point is that the detrimental effect of dynastic politicians is particularly well established. No one doubts any longer that the relentless reign of this sad fate is the very source of corruption and corruption in our political system. And every Filipino knows from personal experience that corruption and bribery in government are the greatest scourge to our country’s economic development.

However, the main damage caused by political dynasties was well articulated by the eminent economist, Professor Ronald U. Mendoza of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center, in a scorching rebuttal a few weeks ago of the absurd claim from Senator Nancy Binay according to which “a family of politicians is no different from a family of doctors”.

According to the good professor, “An anti-dynasty law also opens up much needed breathing space to resuscitate meritocracy in the Philippines, as evidence suggests it is already dying at the hands of political dynasties.

Relevantly, besides the observation that dynastic politicians have all but erased meritocracy in governance, Professor Mendoza also stresses the need to enact a political anti-dynasty law. Indeed, it has become quite reprehensible that lawmakers continue to sit on this reform law.

I think our lawmakers fail to realize that the public demand is not just about the enactment of an “anti-political dynasty” law. Indeed, Filipinos are also calling for legislation “guaranteeing equal access”. It should be noted here that Article 26 of Article II primarily protects a political right, in particular – the right of every Filipino to “equal access to opportunities in public service”.

In addition, we should remind our legislators that equal access is a political right guaranteed by international law, in particular by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Civil Rights and policies (1966).

Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

“(1) Everyone has the right to participate in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (2) Everyone has the right to equal access to the civil service in their country. (3) The will of the people will be the basis of the authority of government; this will will be expressed in periodic and honest elections which will be by universal and equal suffrage and will be held by secret ballot or by equivalent free vote procedures.

Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that:

“Every citizen has the right and the possibility, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions: 1 ° To participate in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives; 2. to vote and to be elected in honest periodic elections which take place by universal and equal suffrage and are held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the voters; 3. To have access, under general conditions of equality, to the civil service of his country.

It is therefore clear that the campaign for the enactment of an anti-political dynasty law is deeply more than the mere targeting of a special caste of politicians. Indeed, the legislative agenda behind this advocacy can be understood as the preservation and promotion of a political right guaranteed in our Constitution and in international law for ALL Filipinos.

Therefore, complaints from dynastic politicians that such a law violates their right to run for and be elected to public office seem pathetically selfish. Especially since the Supreme Court has already ruled in the Quinto v. COMELEC [G.R. No. 189698, February 22, 2010], that the right to run for public office “in itself is not entitled to constitutional protection”.

Theoretically, our lawmakers should be proud to vote for an anti-dynasty bill because it simply amounts to respecting a political or human right guaranteed by the Constitution and international law. In fact, they can all take the big route in claiming that such a move fundamentally defends true democracy in the Philippines.

The reality is of course more nuanced than that. Being themselves bona fide members of political dynasties, members of Congress and the Senate must be further coaxed into enacting anti-political dynasty law.

President Aquino declared the urgency to pass such a law before the end of his term in his latest State of the Nation address. Malacañang even issued an official statement reiterating our chief executive’s directive. Even a COMELEC commissioner rushed to implore lawmakers to pass the law without further delay.

I’m starting to suspect that the Filipinos who fill the streets are the spark our lawmakers need to finally pass the Anti-Political Dynasty Law. Indeed, people shouting “Sobra na!” Tama na! ” might rouse them from their amazement. Those words destroyed a dictatorship after all. (Atty. Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, LL.M is a practicing lawyer. He is the author of the book “Rethinking the Bangsamoro Perspective.” He conducts research on current issues of state building, decentralization and constitutionalism.)