The filing of Certificate of Candidacy (COC) is over and now we know who are running for the different elective positions in the coming mid-term elections in May next year. That is what many people are thinking. But we won’t really know it this time because some of those who filed their COCs might decide that they made a mistake and will decide to withdraw. Or it could be that they were just made to file their COCs bytheir political party but will be substituted by another candidate of the political party before November 29 this year.
As it is, this allowance for substitution of candidates by political parties during elections is really more of an accommodation of political strategies rather than a necessity. After all, any candidate who has filed his or her COC can always withdraw if he or she doesn’t want to proceed with his or her candidacy anymore. If not, why would Comelec schedule the filing of COCs long before the campaign period allowed by law? Isn’t this a mockery of the election process?
But even if the list of those who filed their COCs within the prescribed dates (October 11-17, 2018) may not be the final list of candidates in next year’s mid-term elections, at least we have a fair view of who they will be. There are those whose names we have never heard before and there are also those whose names are always reported as candidates every election.
What catches our attention is the list of candidates who are all members of one family who all filed their COCs. We call this political dynasty in the words of the Philippine Constitution. The current Philippine Constitutionprohibits political dynasty but for 31 years that it has existed this prohibition has never been overserved or practiced. On the contrary it has been blatantly ignored.
That is because of one flaw that the framers of theConstitution have committed. Article II, Section 26. Of the 1987 Philippine Constitution says, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” (Underscoring mine). How political dynasty may be prohibited has yet to be defined by law. It means our lawmakers – the Senate and the House of Representatives must enact the law first before it can be enforced. With the political dynasties already ruling and continue to rule both the Senate and the House, no enabling law defining what political dynasty is can be passed.
And without a law defining what political dynasty is, no politician will admit that he or she is a member of a political dynasty. When confronted with the question on political dynasty, they always say that we are in a democracy and it is the people who voted to put them in their elective positions. They are correct if we look at political dynasty in the eyes of the law. So in Bisayan, we say “wajudtay dag-an aninila.”
But no, there is another way to enforce the Constitutional prohibition on political dynasty. Article II, Section 1. Of the Constitution says “ThePhilippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” If Congress will not enact an enabling law defining what political dynasty is, then we the people acting through our right to suffrage guaranteed by the same Constitution in Article II can prohibit political dynasty from that access to opportunity for public service.
For a start we don’t have to go out of the province. The list of these political dynasties is aplenty in Bohol. We know of all members of the family who are running for positions in next year’s mid-term election. The power is within us to trim down the fats of political dynasties if not totally eliminate them from public service if they don’t have the “delikadesa” to consider the constitutional prohibition.
We may not succeed in next year’s election, but if we continue to educate our voters, there will come a time when the voice of the people will be louder than the intent of the law.(For comments and suggestions, please email to: [email protected])