In our 1987 Constitution, there is a very important provision that should be given top priority, but seems to have been completely overlooked by our lawmakers. The provision states, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” (Article II, Sec. 26)
More than two decades have passed since the adoption of the Constitution, but Congress has yet to act on this important provision, which was adopted because of an experience during the Marcos regime—the strong concentration of power in one family or group, which stifled political dissent and undermined democracy. To recall, Ferdinand Marcos was the president of the country, his wife Imelda was the Metro Manila governor; their daughter Imee was the Kabataang Barangay chairman, and their son Bongbong was the vice governor of an Ilocos province.
It was not only the Marcoses that held multiple political positions. Also the Romualdezes and the Crisologos and other families who were close to the dictator that time. Sec. 26, Article II contemplates that never again should any political dynasty be given an opportunity to have a stranglehold on our country or any part thereof.
Today it is very evident that political dynasties exist. It is commonplace to hear of a governor whose son or daughter is a mayor in a town of the province he/she heads; or a mayor whose spouse or child is the vice mayor or a councilor; or a governor whose mother is the congresswoman of their district; or a senator whose wife is a mayor, and so on and so forth.
If we may note, the Maguindanao massacre could not have happened if the Ampatuan family had not established a political dynasty in Maguindanao. Because of the power they wielded, they felt they were above the law, thus they had the temerity to commit the most hideous crime. Who knows how many more undiscovered crimes they committed?
To be sure, to this day other political dynasties have abused or continue to abuse public trust and power with impunity. That “[p]ower corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is an adage proved time and again in real life through all history.
It is therefore imperative that our lawmakers enact the enabling law banning political dynasties to put an end to these threats and menaces to our democracy.
New Sumakwel, Barangay 2,
San Carlos City, Negros Occidental