MANILA — A taxpayer has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to bar members of political dynasties — which include relatives of President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay — from running in the 2013 elections.
Taxpayer Louis “Barok” Biraogo, in his 26-page petition for mandamus, cited Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution as basis for prohibiting political dynasties from seeking elective positions.
“The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law,” this section of the Constitution states.
Biraogo, who filed the petition as a Filipino citizen, a qualified voter and a taxpayer, said that the government has not enacted any law defining the term “political dynasties,” and this failure allows political dynasties to remain up to this day.
He said the “spirit and intent” of the particular provision of the Constitution, instead of its letters, should prevail even without the backing of a law defining what a political dynasty is.
Biraogo blamed Congress for its inaction on passing an enabling statute, and cited a Supreme Court ruling that “cataclysmic consequences” would crop up if Congress would be allowed “to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law.”
“The sad reality is that the awaited legislation remains nowhere in sight even after the lapse of the 25 years since the charter was ratified,” he said.
Biraogo said the list of candidates for national and local government posts in the May 2013 elections “is the best testament to the mockery Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Constitution has been subjected to in the hands of political dynasties.”
Among the so-called political dynasties he cited in his petition was the clan of President Benigno Aquino III, whose cousin Benigno Aquino IV and aunt former Tarlac Gov. Margarita are both running for senator.
Biraogo also cited the clan of Vice President Jejomar Binay, whose son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, is running for re-election, and daughters, Abigail and Nancy, are running for congresswoman and senator, respectively.
Other families he cited are those of former President Joseph Estrada, Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Sen. Alan and Pia Cayetano, Sen. Manuel Villar, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, the Jalosjos in Zamboanga provinces, the Dutertes in Davao, and the Plazas in Agusan.
“Twenty-five (25) years have passed since the 1987 Constitution outlawed political dynasties. Today, these political dynasties still dominate the national and local elections in the Philippines,” Biraogo said.
“Whether or not political dynasties are evil per se is no longer debatable from a constitutional perspective… Whether a political dynasty is reform-oriented, or is known for public service, does not really matter,” he added.
Biraogo said the Supreme Court has the power to compel the Comelec to enforce the ban on political dynasties, because Section 26, Article II of the Constitution “is considered to have a juridical life of its own (and therefore) can be the source of a judicial remedy.”
Biraogo claimed Comelec has the ministerial duty and authority to ban political dynasties despite the absence of an enabling law, especially since the Constitution itself grants the Comelec power to “decide questions affecting elections.”
“(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 Congress to enact legislation for the full enjoyment by the people of a guaranteed state policy,” Biraogo said. (KBK, GMA News)