Defining a Political Dynasty

Political dynasties are prohibited. No less than the Constitution (Article 2, Section 26) provides that: “The State shall guarantee equal access to public service and prohibit political dynasty as may be defined by law.” This provision, while explicitly prohibiting political dynasties, also requires an enabling law.

The most recent attempt to pass a law to prohibiting political dynasties is Senate Bill No. 2649, introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago during the First Regular Season of the 15th Congress. SB 2649 proposes a law to be known as the “Anti-Political Dynasty Act.”

One of the problems in crafting an anti-political dynasty law, aside from the demonstrated resistance of politicians to pass one, is the definition of “political dynasty.” SB 2649 provides that political dynasty “shall exist when a person who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official or relative within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent elective official within the same province or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent official. It shall also be deemed to exist where two (2) or more persons who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective public office within the same province, even if neither is so related to an incumbent elective official.

The characterization of political dynasty includes terms/concepts that require further definition. A “spouse” refers to the legal and common-law wife or husband of the incumbent elective official. The term “second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity” refers to the relatives of a person who may be the latter’s brother or sister, whether of full or half-blood, direct ascendant or direct descendant, whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, including their spouses. The term “running for an elective office” is deemed to commence upon the filing of the certificate of candidacy by a candidate with the COMELEC. “Holding an elective office” is deemed to commence from the moment the public official takes his oath of office.”

Good enough definitions? Or coming up with a definition is futile because we won’t be having an anti-political dynasty law in our lifetime? Or do we need an anti-political dynasty law in the first place?

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