Political dynasties are dead. Long live political dynasties! Atbp. cebudailynews.inquirer.net

Political dynasties are dead. Long live political dynasties! Atbp. Featured

THE King is dead, long live the King! This was last proclaimed in England upon the death of King George 6th in 1952; except that a Queen succeeded him, his eldest daughter Elizabeth. Originally in French, Le roi est mort, vive le roi! In 1422, King Charles 6th of France died and his son Charles 7th acceded to the throne. The first part of the statement refers to the monarch’s death, the second to the instantaneous transfer of sovereignty to the heir, or the continuity of the concept, as discussed in this article.

Aristotle (384 BCE–322 BCE), the Greek philosopher said it succinctly, “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day.” Both phrases came to mind the night of the recent elections when several TV talking heads monitoring the results were unabashedly gloating over a happy trend presenting itself when Erap trailed Isko Moreno, his erstwhile ally, in the Manila mayoralty contest. The early hours of the next day would see members of the Estrada family rejected by voters — for mayor and councilor of San Juan, governor of Laguna and more importantly, two siblings from different mothers, Jinggoy and JV, losing Senate candidacies.

In Davao del Norte, the del Rosario political family was eradicated from the scene: Rodney, the governorship, Anthony, the first district congressional seat and a cousin, Tony Boy Floirendo, the billionaire banana magnate humiliated as he lost his reelection bid for second district representative. All crushed by archenemy, former speaker Bebot Alvarez and his henchmen.

In Makati, the Binay patriarch, ex-vice president Jejomar lost miserably in his bid for a House seat. His fall from grace was terminal, from his high perch as an erstwhile leading presidential contender, until a flurry of corruption accusations did him in. His ineptitude in disciplining his children could make their internecine political fight permanent. Abigail was reelected as Makati mayor, brother Junjun was obliterated while eldest sister Nancy barely held on to her Senate seat. To complicate matters, Abigail’s husband, Luis Campos, won as congressman of Makati’s second district, further splintering the already dysfunctional family.

Others who have been lording it over local government posts for decades fell in ignominy; the Eusebios in Pasig giving up both the mayoralty and congressional seats; the Tings of Tuguegarao, losing similarly; the religious cult of the Ecleos in Dinagat, trounced; the Osmeñas of Cebu booted out of the mayor’s office and a cousin’s senatorial comeback stopped.

Political dynasticism is dead. Or dying. Or at least fraying at the edges. Until one begins to see that other political dynasties were born in this election. For one, the Deegong’s daughter Sara, and male siblings, Polong and Baste, ran practically unopposed to capture the mayoralty, the first district congressional seat and the vice mayoralty in Davao City. In Davao del Sur, in a political merry-go-round, four traditional politicians surnamed Cagas captured for the father, Dodo, the governorship, congressional seat for the mother, Didit, the vice governorship for the son, Marc, and a board membership for a relative.

Politics in the Philippines as a family business is thriving. And even the party-list system has been so perverted that they have sprouted all over as adjuncts to political dynasties.

But the total wipe-out of the senatorial opposition slate could be a game changer if the Deegong will settle down and put his mind to it. In upending the concept of “checks and balance,” the Deegong has drawn a tabula rasa. And in the next three years he can write into it whatever he wants, before becoming a lameduck president. Paradoxically, he has the support of a great majority of Filipinos. This election has elevated the Deegong to another dimension: to his sycophants, a political demigod; to his detractors, the devil incarnate.

Today his almost total dominance over our political lives has erased the need for a revolutionary government. This election was in a way a coup d’état without the bloodshed and the prospect of a civil war — as the Liberals and some democrats have been imagining.

The installation of two new Mindanawnons to the Senate, joining Koko, Migz and the Pacman, is unprecedented in the country’s history. Two of these are Duterte surrogates: Bong Go and Bato dela Rosa. The former is his political android and avatar rolled into one. He will be his unquestioning voice in the Senate. There will no longer be a serious hindrance to his agenda, if he still wishes to pursue them. The war against illegal drugs and the accusations of violations of human rights and the EJKs will be reduced to a background noise or sterilized by the elevation of his original point man, General Bato to the Senate. As to the third Mindanawnon, Koko, the former Senate president, the son of the party founder and the most knowledgeable Mindanawnon in the Senate, has been consigned (together with the Pacman) to be the tutors of the two others. Koko, independent-minded but loyal to DU30, has been eliminated as a potential “presidentiable” with his showing in the polls, clearing the way for heir-apparent Sara. Perhaps, this gives credence to reports of Koko’s ‘junking’ by Hugpong leaders in the grassroots.

But the main agenda foremost in the minds of foes, friends and allies alike are the systemic changes, temporarily suspended, awaiting the restructuring of the Senate. The key to all this is the abrogation of the Cory 1987 Constitution and its revisions towards the establishment of the parliamentary-ederal System and the liberalization of the economy. This has been partly the cry since the Pirma of President FVR, the Concord of President Erap and the 2005 ConCom of President GMA and even the original PDP Laban position. A complication was recently injected into this mix through the proposals of the 25-man Puno Constitutional Committee calling for the retention of the perverted presidential system towards a nebulous concept of federalism. Surely, the debate can be reshaped by the Deegong towards the presidential-unitary versus the parliamentary-federal (Fed-Parl). On this note, I reintroduce vignettes of the Centrist proposals. Some of these need only the imprimatur of the House and Senate but others needing the revision of the Constitution. To wit:

1. Pass the political party reform bill pending in the Senate these past several administrations, prohibiting ‘turncoats’ and granting subsidy to real ideologically based political parties for education and campaign;

2. Pass the universal freedom of information bill, insuring transparency and good governance;

3. Initiate electoral reforms, regulating campaign spending, vote buying and the election process; and

4. Make the ban on political dynasties executory in the Constitution.

I wrote this in my Times columns back in Jan.18 and Feb. 1, 2018:

“This roadmap to federalism is thus designed to mitigate the shock to the body politic arising from the purging of traditional political practices, first, through the immediate passage of reform laws, now pending in Congress. Furthermore, the critical process of transition to a parliamentary-federal republic has to be in place in the revised constitution so the assurance of its continuity is safeguarded by the constitution itself even beyond the term of the current president.”

The terminal constitutional revision game is afoot. May the odds be ever in our favor.000
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