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Philippine poll body 'powerless to stop political dynasties'

Publication Date : 22-10-2012

 

The Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday said it was powerless to stop political dynasties because Congress had yet to pass an enabling law for the constitutional prohibition.

But Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said those “annoyed” by them may resort to a “people’s initiative” or massive signature campaign to prevent their dominance in the country’s political landscape.

Brillantes over the weekend said it was “impossible” for the election body to prevent relatives of incumbent officials from seeking government posts in the 2013 elections.

“We can’t do anything about it,” he said.

“There is no enabling law that prohibits political dynasties even if it is not allowed under the Constitution,” Brillantes said.

The Comelec chief was apparently commenting on a petition filed in the Supreme Court asking the justices to order the poll body to enforce the constitutional ban on political dynasties in the coming national and local balloting.

“We can only administer what is provided by law,” Brillantes said.

But he suggested that those irked by the presence of political dynasties in the government could employ the constitutional provision on people’s initiative.

“A people’s initiative is the best … real solution to that problem so that it would no longer have to pass through Congress,” Brillantes said, referring to Republic Act No. 6735, the law on people’s initiative and referendum. “Because the Congress will not allow that (banning political dynasties) … they will not do something that will directly affect them,” he added.

Article 17 Section 2 of the Constitution provides that “amendments to the Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least 12 per cent of the total number of registered voters …."

Brillantes did not explain what constitutional amendment could be proposed to bypass the need for implementing laws.

In a 24-page petition filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, a certain Louis Biraogo lamented how patronage politics “became the rule in the elections,” and a candidate had no chance at winning if he or she did not belong to a political dynasty.

The petitioner noted that the current candidates for the upcoming midterm elections were the “best testament to that political and constitutional mockery.”

“The refusal of the government, the Congress in particular, to fulfill the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties has been a continuing insult to the Filipino people. Something must be done about this anomaly,” Biraogo said.

Congress has also been sitting on the implementing rules of the freedom of information provision in the 1987 Constitution.

 

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