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Con-Com ban on political dynasties won’t pass muster in Congress

President Duterte’s created Consultative Committee(Con-Com) appears bent on completely doing away with political dynasties in its draft constitution which will be submitted to both Houses of Congress.

But chances of the House, or even of the Senate adopting the Con-Com’s proposed proviso banning political dynasties are slim to none.
Congressmen who will be debating on this proviso are said ready to cite the unconstitutionality of forbidding or banning close relatives of an elected congressman or senator to run for elective offices.
By declaring a ban on so-called political dynasties, the electorate is being denied its soveriegn right to vote for their choice, even if that choice is a political dynast.
But a lawmaker from Camarines Sur yesterday said that the switch to federalism should also relax or lift the “protectionist” economic provisions of the 1987 Charter which was responsible for the relatively “anemic” foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows despite the Philippines’ credit rating upgrades and new status as among Asia’s fastest-growing economies.
“It’s the constitutional provisions (1) putting a 40-percent cap on foreign ownership and (2) barring foreign participation in certain sectors such as the media that have been a deal breaker for prospective foreign investors,” Camarines Sur Rep LRay Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte, one of the lead proponents of Charter Change in the Congress, issued the statement following reports that the Con-Com now plans to also consider recommending amendments to the Constitution aimed at further liberalizing the economy. 

According to Arthur Aguilar, chairman of the Con-Com’s economic reforms and fiscal administration sub-committee, the body will gather inputs from business chambers and advocacy groups in crafting the recommendations.
The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club (MBC), the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) have already submitted their position papers to the Con-Com.
Villafuerte said “relaxing or lifting such restrictive provisions should be studied by the Con-Com and Con-Ass along with the proposed switch to the federal system.”
“Our protectionist economic policy is an anachronism under the new global free economy or borderless world. This is why FDIs have remained relatively anemic despite the Philippines’ newfound investment-grade status as Asia’s bright star,” Villafuerte said.
“True, there has been a 40 percent jump in FDI inflows to $7.9 billion to the Philippines in 2016, based on Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) data,” he said.
“But this is peanuts when compared to the $53.9 billion that went to Singapore the same year. Malaysia had $11.3 billion in FDIs.”
“Even erstwhile tail-ender Vietnam got $12.6 billion in FDIs, which is a third higher than what we got despite the Philippines’ successive credit ratings upgrades from the top three debt watchers Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings,” he said.
Congress has yet to pass a law regulating political dynasties but President Duterte’s Con-Com has begun contemplating its own provisions to regulate them.
During its meeting Wednesday, the Con-Com, the body tasked to review the 1987 Constitution, agreed to adopt “strong, self-executing provisions to regulate political dynasties”.
This, after Con-Com member and De La Salle University Political Science Professor Julio Teehankee, made a presentation which showed the extent of the domination of political dynasties, particularly at the local level.
The current Constitution carries a provision banning political dynasties, but leaves it up to Congress to pass an enabling law.
It was noted during the meeting that the same constitutional ban and the imposition of term limits are among the reasons to blame for the proliferation of old and emerging dynasties.
Teehankee, chair of the Con-Com subcommittee on political reforms and leveling the playing field, explained that the consequence of term limits “hastened the development of political dynasties.”
“It has resulted in inheriting positions. It hastened the generational shift among the political clans,” Teehankee said.
He also stressed that if the Con-Com plans to restructure and reboot the political system, there is a need for “all the players to start from the same starting line.”
“So if ever one would argue that his or her political family is really accepted by the people, then let’s all start at a level playing field. And let the people decide eventually under the new rules of the game,” he added.
The Con-Com’s proposed regulation for political dynasties will cover prohibition for a family member to succeed or replace another member who is an incumbent public official, for members of one family to hold multiple positions, and for members of one family to run simultaneously for multiple positions.
To date, members agreed to apply the prohibition up to the second degree of consanguinity and affinity but have yet to finalize the particulars of every prohibition for every position at different levels — local, regional or state, and national.
One study, led by Con-com chairperson and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and former budget secretary Salvador Enriquez Jr., showed at least 295 political families who control power in various regions — with Metro Manila having the most number with 31.
The regions with the most number of dynasties apart from NCR are Central Luzon with 21, Calabarzon with 20, Bicol Region with 15, Western Visayas with 12, Mimaropa with 11 and Central Visayas with 10.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier said that Duterte, whose children are and have been elected officials in his home city of Davao, found nothing wrong with political dynasties since they are elected by the public.
Duterte’s daughter, Sara, is the Davao City mayor.
His son, Paolo, was former Davao City’s vice mayor.
“As far as the President is concerned, the voice of the people is the voice of God. If members of a political family are elected by the public, that’s their right,” Roque said.
Roque, however, reiterated that political dynasties shall be dealt with by law, despite Congress’ failure to act on it.
“In case there is a provision to prohibit dynasties, and the people will judge for themselves if dynasties should be prohibited,” he added. With PNA

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