TWO administration lawmakers yesterday opposed the proposal of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) inter-agency task force on constitutional reforms to ban political dynasties when amendments are introduced to the Constitution, saying it is “anti-democratic.”
Reps. Antonio Albano of Isabela and Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur thumbed down the provision not to allow relatives within the second degree of consanguinity to run in elections.
“This is very anti-democratic because there are families elected democratically,” Albano, a brother of Isabela Governor Rodolfo Albano III, told the hearing of the House committee on constitutional amendments.
The DILG provision states that “no person related to an incumbent elective official as a spouse, and within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity… can run for the same position in the immediately following election.”
The provision likewise said they will not be allowed to simultaneously hold positions for governor and vice governor as well as mayor and vice mayor.
The panel chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez had to withdraw the passage of its committee report on the measure seeking to amend the Constitution so it can belatedly consider the recommendations of the DILG inter-agency task force, which is composed of 11 representatives from various government agencies.
In a closed-door meeting last month, the panel adopted a resolution seeking to amend the Constitution to lift its economic restrictions and fix the terms of legislators and local officials to five years subject to three re-elections.
The panel approved the consolidated resolution in an executive session even if President Duterte had already made it clear that Charter change will not be a priority in his remaining three years.
“In a democracy it is the inherent right of a person – be it relative of incumbent official or not – to run for public office. If you bar a certain person from running that is unfair and anti-democratic,” said Albano whose father, former Rep. Rodolfo Albano Jr., died last November.
Albano said the state should allow the electorate to freely choose their leaders based on their performance.
“Even if you’re a family serving for decades, if you don’t perform right you will lose in the election. We saw those in power that were ejected by the people,” he said.
Pimentel asked the Rodriguez panel to defer the approval of the provision, pending a thorough study, “saying it is the right of the people to put in place who will be their congressman, their governor.”
“So, this is one way of curtailing the right to vote of the citizens,” said the lawmaker, a deputy speaker, who is the brother of incumbent Surigao del Sur governor Alexander Pimentel.
The committee will hold another meeting next week where members of the DILG inter-agency body are expected to brief its members.
Congressmen are planning to change the Constitution by treating the proposed amendments as an ordinary piece of legislation which will be approved by the House and then the Senate.