Oligarchy and the anti-dynasty bill

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    ‘Temporary setbacks will not cause a chill among the oligarchs. Not even a bellicose President who warned that he will not give any concession at all to the oligarchs in the last two years of his incumbency.’

    WHEN a small group of people holds political power and becomes a dominant class or clique, the group may be referred to as an oligarchy and its elite members as the oligarchs.

    The oligarchy maintains power and influence, both economic and political, by pressuring the government to adopt policies and programs that will directly benefit them. With their money and influence, they are able to get their relatives and friends elected into office, who are then expected to support more pro-oligarchy policies, and the cycle continues. This decades-old malady in Philippine society has prodded a whole generation of young Filipinos in the 1970s to rebel — Christian and Muslim alike — thus resulting in the birth of the twin insurgencies the government is fighting today.

    President Duterte is correct — as many other leaders before him — in thinking that the Philippine oligarchy is getting rich and powerful at the expense of the Filipino people. Sadly, only Duterte had the balls to pick an actual fight with these people.

    Luckily, he notched some sort of victory in his fight with the Lopezes, but he should not boast or be complacent about it. Remember that the oligarchic mindset is ingrained in the Filipino culture, and these ruling families control much of the economy and they cannot just be pushed around for they have the capacity to bounce back and fight.

    Temporary setbacks will not cause a chill among the oligarchs. Not even a bellicose President who warned that he will not give any concession at all to the oligarchs in the last two years of his incumbency.

    Opposition leader Sen. Franklin Drilon has proposed a calmer approach to the problem. He said that the country’s political structure should be reviewed to successfully eliminate oligarchy in the Philippines. He said he is willing to sit down with the Duterte administration to identify laws and policies that should be taken legally to at least minimize the bad effects of the oligarchy, or in the words of Romulo Neri, to “moderate their greed.”

    Drilon correctly pointed out that if the government wants to cut down the oligarchy, it should not allow the rise of cronies. He stressed that an important move to achieve this goal is to enact the anti-dynasty law, a constitutional principle that the Congress and the Executive have not shown respect to during the last two decades.

    Senator Drilon said, “It is when a small group of people who possess sufficient political power to influence government policies, that is when you have oligarchy and that should be dismantled. The lack of an anti-dynasty provision in our system would allow oligarchy to continue.”

    The senator believes that with Duterte’s strong influence with the House of Representatives and the Senate, the anti-dynasty Law will be able to see the light of day.