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'End perpetual power



ll I

I earlv rzo vears since its colonial birth, the

lesislature remalns an ante-

aifuuiuir are"na still'flocke.d with aging


I and rising political dynasties emblematic of an old era. This elite institution hardly em-

bodies modern democratic representatiol since even the party list system-crafted in

1987 as a "socia.l jtistice tool"-is also inundat-

ed by the powers tJrat be. Some have tried

changing the legislative membership by reviv- ing antid)'nasty bills, but such an act needs re- tooling after almost 35 years of futile exercise.

The results of the last midterm elections show that at least 18o ofall district reiresenta-

tives in the new 18th Congress belong to politi-

cal dynasties. Adding party list members who are dynastic, the figure rises to 214, or mor€

than 70 percent of the House of Representa-

tives seats. Senators from tlrc same monocra- cy represent 67 percent of the chamber. Local elective posts abound with dynasties, indud- ing governors and city mayors from the sanle

families holding tie same posts for deeades

through a revolving door of

In the Bangsamoro, the reign of local dynas-

ties remains uncontested, with all seven con-

gressional districts being held by the Manguda-

datus, Hatamans, Sinsuats and otlers. Oti-

garchic persistence in the region is bome out of

, deeply entrenched feudal ties, where the elite

dominat politics even as feuow Muslins die in I war and poverty. How the dynastic system will

coexist witl the MILF-led Bangsamoro transi-

tion authority's vision of making governance in- clirsive and arms irrelevant remains uncertai[

Even as tley comprise a trifling -r percent of the country's populatioq oligarchs have a



cunning ability to sprout Aftersdven elections,

the party list system, which was envisioned as

a legislative voice of the poor, has been co-opt-

ed by them. By some legal chicanery the sys- tem is now anybody's game where dynasties

form political parties and rYin seats-34, or nearly 60 percent, of 61 seats in the latest count Except for a few minority seats, the par-

ty list is packed with millionaires; at least one billionate is the richest congressman today.

In the May elections, the same leverages pivotal to the resiliency of the dynasty system

were operrtive-electoral edge, name recall,


vote-buying and an automated system

vulnerable to fraud. As usual, the lack of

that is

a viable political party system, where issues

and performance should have counted most, reduced the election to a feud between politi:

cal clans, r,vith machineries emPloyed in the guise of political parties, thus marginalizing aspirants whostood for principled politics. Dy-

nasties mock ttre election, which in principle is

an accountability mechanism bestoliing pdsi-

tions only to tiose with unblemished public

service records while ensuring an even playing

field where nondynastic candidates win.

While in recent years political dynasties

have faced increasing scrutiny because of their dominance, practice of patronage politics and

links to big-time corruptioq they toughened up

under President Duterte. After prolonged hospi

$ rcAE€ -APu

tal detentioq former president and Speaker

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo piloted the raiuoading of Resolution of Both l{ouses No. 15. The pro-

Charter resolution was roundly condemned as a

scheme to perpetuate

political dynasties; it

swept away the present Charter's antidynasty

provision along with the term limits of elective

ofncials. Yet Mr. Duterte sees nothing wrong with clientelisrL as his own family members

now occupy executive, legislative and local gov-

ernment positions. His recent declaration

against pushing federalism brings dosue to the

Puno committee's core Chaner provision mak- ing the ban on political dynastieJsef-executing The chronic power monopoly by the elite

suggests that the people's fair representation in

government that enables the country's claimed

democracy to woik is nil This is evinced, for in-

stance, by Congress' failure to enact landmark

institutional reforms like genuine land redistri- butiorl'minimum wage increase and otier pro-

labor laws, and an implehenting law on lhe

constitutional ban of dynasties.

The dynasty system is antidevelopment,

as has been validated by scholars, including .


former National Economic and Development



officials and UNDP and AIM aca-

Not only does it hurt growth and

' poverty reduction programs, it also worsens

social inequality in regions like Bicol and

BARMM, where clans are well-entrenched.

Targeting economic Srowth is air ess with- out ending the perpeflral power of a few famiiies.

Bobby M. Tuazon is director for Policy Stud-

ies of CenPEG. He used to head UP Manila's

political science program.