Proposed constitution would ban dynasties
posted 16-Jun-2018  ·  
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The unimplemented provision against political dynasties in the 1987 Constitution will be given life in the proposed Federal Constitution, said a panel sent by the Consultative Committee to Catanduanes to provide updates on their work to review the current charter.

According to ConCom member Atty. Susan Ubalde-Ordinario, the prohibition would cover the spouse and relatives of the public official and/or candidate within the second degree of consanguinity and affinity as well as those relatives’ spouses.

These relatives include the official’s parents, children and their spouses, grandchildren and their spouses, brothers and sisters as well as their spouses, grandparents, the parents of the official’s spouse, the brothers and sisters of the spouse as well as their respective spouses, and the spouse’s grandparents.

Under the ConCom proposal, they will be prohibited from succeeding or replacing an incumbent elected official.

“If the incumbent is an elective barangay official, the spouse and the subject relatives are prohibited to run simultaneously with the incumbent within the same municipality, city, legislative district and/or province,” it said.

“If the incumbent is an elective official of the municipality, city, legislative district and/or province, the spouse and the subject relatives are prohibited to run for or hold any elective local office simultaneously with the incumbent within the same municipality, city, legislative district and/or province,” it added.

“If the incumbent is a national elective official, the spouse and the relatives are likewise prohibited to run simultaneously for any position in the national level or in the local level as mayor, governor or district representative in any part of the country,” Atty. Ordinario explained. “However, the spouse and said relatives may run for vice governor, vice mayor, or any legislative councils at the provincial, city or municipal level.”

On the other hand, if the incumbent is a governor or district representative, the spouse and the relatives are also prohibited to run simultaneously for any position in the national level, she stated,

“Persons who are not holding any public office shall likewise be prohibited from running in the same election if their election will result in a political dynasty relationship,” Ordinario disclosed.

Assuming the dynasty-loaded Congress approves the proposal untouched before the 2019 national and local elections, either Governor Joseph Cua or San Andres Mayor Peter Cua will have to give up their reelection bids while ‘graduating’ Congressman Cesar Sarmiento will have to run for governor or forget his Capitol ambition to allow his brother, Atty. Jorge Sarmiento, to run for the House seat and keep it within the family, a political observer said.

Atty. Ordinario also bared that the proposed Charter would also ban party switching as part of political party reforms.

“Any member of a political party elected to public office will be prohibited from changing political parties within their term of office,” she said.

On the other hand, any candidate for public office or any official of a political party will be prohibited from changing parties within two years immediately after an election and two years before the succeeding election.

It may be recalled that in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte’s election in 2016, members of the previously dominant Liberal Party, including Cong. Sarmiento, switched loyalties to the PDP-Laban.

All public officials will have four-year terms with only one reelection, the ConCom member said.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen once these proposals go to Congress,” Atty. Ordinario admitted. “Congress will have to decide, with the final decision to be made by the people.”

Also present during the forum organized by Caritas Virac Justice & Peace, Inc. were Atty. Darcy Bertulfo de Lima, Atty. Jon Constantin Tecson, Jumila Fugaban and Emy de Quiroz-Gianan, all staffers of ConCom members who were unable to join the Catanduanes trip.

Ordinario said the committee is now tackling the transitory provisions of the proposed Constitution, with the final voting to happen soon before the final draft is submitted to the President before the ConCom ceases to exist on Aug. 19.

“There will be vast change but when one is sick of cancer and the only resort is surgery, what does an ailing man do?” she remarked. The change in government from unitary presidential to federalism with a strong president intends to break the stranglehold on development by the extreme centralization of government, she stressed.

“We are using the 1987 Constitution as the basis of our work,” the only woman member of the committee said. “Far from finding fault in it, we are upgrading it to meet the changing needs of the times.”

The change will be by leaps and bounds to bring the country into a vastly different future, the lawyer stated, with the new Charter hoped to bring reforms, changes and development to the countryside and make people feel they have a share in the nation’s wealth.

Among the other political reforms proposed by the Committee are: the election of a president and vice president from the same party to promote teamwork; the election of senators by 18 federated regions in order to provide equal representation; the creation of regional legislative assemblies with provinces and cities to have two representatives each; the allocation of powers between the federal government and the federated regions; and, an improvement in the partylist system.

“Anybody can’t just form a partylist group, it must be a registered political party,” Atty. Ordinario said, adding that the nominees must be known to the people and can only sit in Congress if the party garners five percent (5%) of the total votes cast, a higher threshold compared to the current 3%.

“Medyo magiging mahirap na ngayon,” the ConCom member clarified. “Hindi na yung mag-concentrate ka kang sa Bicol region, meron ka nang three seats.”

The proposed Charter also contains very strong protections against parties to be put up, she noted, adding that the committee is still studying campaign finance reforms.

“There is a need to control elections as the ultimate exercise of sovereignty,” Ordinario bared. “There must be no manipulation using money or personalities.”

Under the proposal, the Commission on Elections will no longer gave quasi-judicial power to decide election protests and will focus on holding and ensuring free and fair elections, particularly with regards to campaign spending.

The election protests will be decided by a special court to be created, the Federal Electoral Tribunal, which will replace existing tribunals which are composed largely of politicians, she said.

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