SC urged to force Comelec to ban political dynasties

Posted at 10/19/12 12:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines - With barely 7 months to go until the 2013 polls, a taxpayer has formally asked the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to prohibit political dynasties in all national and local elective posts.

In a 24-page petition for mandamus, Louis "Barok" Biraogo urged the high court to order the poll body "to enforce the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties in Philippine elections."

Biraogo cited Sec. 26, Art. II of the 1987 Constitution which states: "The state shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law."

"Whether or not political dynasties are evil per se is no longer debatable from a constitutional perspective. Sec. 26, Art. II of the 1987 Constitution prohibits political dynasties, period... Political dynasties are prohibited by the fundamental law of the land," he said.

This constitutional provision, while a guarantee, is also a prohibition, Biraogo said.

"Evidently, the prohibition against political dynasties is the means by which the guarantee of equal access to opportunities for public power is to be fulfilled. The guarantee cannot exist without the prohibition," he said.

He pointed out that "the list of candidates for national and local government posts in the coming May 2013 midterm elections is the best testament to the mockery" this constitutional provision has been subjected to "in the hands of political dynasties."

Biraogo cited the candidacy of relatives of no less than Pres. Noynoy Aquino: Bam Aquino, who is running for senator under the ruling Liberal Party (LP); and the President's maternal aunt, Margarita Cojuangco, also running for senator under the opposition coalition.

Biraogo did not also spare Vice-president Jejomar Binay, pointing out that Binay's son, Jojo, is not only a reelectionist mayor in Makati City, but also served as city councilor at the time the Vice-president was the city's chief executive.

Binay's wife, Elenita, also ran for Makati City mayor, Biraogo said, while the couple's daughter, Abigail, is now a congressional candidate representing the city; another daughter, Nancy, is a senatorial candidate for the 2013 polls, Biraogo added.

He also cited the Estrada, Magsaysay, Angara, and Revilla clans, and other clans in local politics.

And while there is no clear-cut definition from Congress of the term "political dynasties," Biraogo said the Comelec is vested with implied powers to make such definition.

"[Twenty-five] years has been too long a waiting period. Another 25 years will be too much to bear. It is time to put an end to the continuing insult visited upon the Filipino people by the inexcusable and adamant refusal of the Congress to enact legislation for the full enjoyment by the people of a guaranteed state policy," Biraogo said.

Biraogo had also filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of the Aquino administration's creation of the Philippine Truth Commission. He was upheld by the high court.

He is also one of 15 petitioners assailing Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a case still pending before the high court.