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On ending the reign of political dynasts

/ 12:14 AM October 22, 2015

Please allow me to react to former chief justice Artemio V. Panganiban’s Oct. 4 column titled “Popular sovereignty and DNA.” He said: “I have always believed that doubts on legal issues involving elections and popular sovereignty should be resolved in favor of letting our people decide them freely through the ballot. Whenever possible, election issues (which do not involve crimes or obvious violations of law) should be settled by the voters, not by judges or lawyers.”

If I understand him correctly, Panganiban is saying that, assuming the ongoing disqualification case against Sen. Grace Poe continues and fails to reach a final and executory resolution by the elections in May 2016, then the senator’s case, should she win, becomes entirely moot and academic. That is to say, the time-honored doctrine “Vox populi, vox dei” could make Poe this country’s next president. So be it!  Who am I—after all, merely an unlettered layman—to quarrel with the wisdom of a former chief justice on this matter?

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The plain truth is it was not only in the case of Frivaldo vs. Comelec (which the honorable former chief justice mentioned in his column) but also in not a few other election-related cases that the Supreme Court had upheld the distinct primacy of the above doctrine over legal issues. I also know it is this same doctrine that Poe’s lawyers have been pinning their last hopes on, even in the unlikely happenstance that the DNA tests they said Poe had already agreed to undergo fail to prove her natural-born citizenship status.

Meanwhile, in a more or less election-related issue, I now know why—even as the Charter provision on antipolitical dynasty has been there for already close to three decades—we, the Filipino people, invariably keep on electing senators and congressmen, governors and mayors, and even barangay officials that we know belong to the same clan.  The simple reason appears to be the same as in Poe’s case:  “Vox populi, vox dei!” The people have freely decided the issue through the ballot and they approve it.  And so, I dare say, isn’t it high time we threw into the dustbin of oblivion this country’s extremely protracted and consuming obsession to eliminate political dynasts in our midst and times? It is a doomed project from the very beginning!

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—RUDY L. CORONEL, [email protected]

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TAGS: Elections 2016, Grace Poe, political dynasty
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