By: Norman V. Cabrera, 8 November 2022
The stubborn persistence of political dynasties continues to hound the Philippines almost since its founding as a nation. Despite the prohibition against them being written into the 1987 Constitution, generation after generation of the same relatively few families fill elected offices at every level of government. Every election, the consensus opinion of an overwhelming majority of Filipinos is, “this must stop”, and in every Congress following an election, bills on the prohibition of political dynasty are introduced or re-introduced to do exactly that but to no avail. These bills merely languish in the Committee handling them, hence, almost all never saw the light of day in the plenary for the last thirty-six (36) years.
Many think that the passage of a law remains impossible to achieve as long as the majority of the legislators belong to political dynasties. Even former President Rodrigo Duterte himself had admitted during an interview that proposed laws banning political dynasties will never be passed by a Congress dominated by dynasties.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had previously ruled that Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Constitution is not self-executing and thus requires a legislative act of Congress. In other words, the prohibition of political dynasties cannot be realized or put into effect until and unless Congress exercises its constitutional law-making duty. The Court had also ruled that the question of which laws to enact is a purely legislative function which courts have no judicial control over.
The 1987 Constitution is the fundamental and supreme law of the land, and a framework for governance that defines how our government is formed and run. It establishes the character of our government by defining the basic principles and policies to which society must conform and to which government is accountable.
The Declaration of State Principles and Policies commits to particular social, economic, political, and developmental goals. They take the form of judicially enforceable socio-political-economic rights, directive principles and policies that are politically binding on the government by way of commitment or intent.
Section 26, Article II of the Constitution declares a fundamental precept in our practice of politics (The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service) and states a specific measure through which the same may be achieved ([The State shall] prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law).
Impaired means having a disability of a specified kind. Is the 1987 Constitution impaired in this regard? Or should the passage of a law defining political dynasties not be left to the sole discretion of Congress considering that the Constitution itself has mandated the passage of such a law?
On 08 November 2022, Kapatiran Party with its chairman, Edilberto M. Cuenca, and its president, Norman V. Cabrera, filed a Petition for Certiorari seeking from the Supreme Court a judicial review of congressional inaction in relation to the intent from the Record of the Constitution Commission of Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Constitution. A copy of the Petition may be downloaded at https (to be filled up).
Petitioners argue that (1) Congress is mandated by the Constitution to enact the needed law with only the definition of political dynasties falling under Congress’ discretionary legislative power, (2) the congressional inaction is tantamount to grave abuse of discretion and unconstitutional, and (3) the Honorable Court issue a writ of certiorari for Congress to comply with its constitutional mandate to pass a law defining political dynasties as required by the 1987 Constitution.
The thirty-six (36) years of failure by Congress to enact a law defining political dynasties should not dim the people’s resolve to invoke their right guaranteed by the State under the Constitution. The country must not give up but rather find inspiration in the words of Albert Einstein, who said: “The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure.”
In the exercise of the respective powers of our three (3) branches of government, all remain subordinate to the Constitution.
Will we ever have a law defining political dynasties? Or is the 1987 Constitution impaired in this regard?
Is there a way out of the darkness? Where and how do we begin?