Anti-political dynasty bill hurdles House committee

MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – For the first time in nearly 3 decades, the anti-political dynasty bill hurdled the committee level at the House of Representatives that's composed mostly of scions of political clans.

In a unanimous vote on Wednesday, November 20, the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms approved the consolidated bill that seeks to prohibit relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity to hold or run for both national and local office in "successive, simultaneous, or overlapping terms."

The proposed law, a version of which was first filed 27 years ago, also prohibits relatives from running at the same time even if they are not related to an incumbent official. 

Article II Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines states: "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law."

The provision has not been fully implemented due to the lack of an enabling law. (READ: How politicians skirt anti-dynasty laws)

Approved at the committee level, the bill will now be referred to the plenary before the period of amendments can be opened.

But will a body that has traditionally been dominated by political dynasties legislate against itself? (READ: Only 1 in 7 lawmakers are fresh faces.)

The next, more difficult step

Despite the bill's "historic" approval, the proponents themselves are aware this is only the first phase of the road toward passing the measure. 

The real challenge lies during the second phase when the bill is tackled on the floor, said Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, one of the co-authors of the measures. 

ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, also a co-author, said he hopes the same forces that pushed for the abolition of lawmakers' discretionary funds or the pork barrel would also push for the passage of the anti-political dynasty law. 

"The next challenge is for the House to schedule plenary debates. I call on the public, and I hope that the same forces that are for the abolition of the pork barrel will also patronize [this] because we know that the issue of pork barrel is connected with the issue of political dynasties," Tinio said. 

In the last Congress, Palace had no official stand on the measure. Back then, Malacañang said it would rather leave deliberations to the legislative branch. President Benigno Aquino III himself comes from a political dynasty from both sides of his family.  Rappler.com