POLITICAL DYNASTIES MUST END NOW

POLITICAL DYNASTIES MUST END NOW!<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

It’s high time for the Filipino electorate, whether at home or in the Diaspora, to bring an end to political dynasties. Together in the coming May 2013 elections, we shall reject all candidates for elective office who are members of prominent political families and elect only those who are not related by blood or social affiliation to any political dynasty.

Although political dynasties have been with us for less than a hundred years, it is foolhardy to think they will go away on their own. Just look at our history. The first members of the Philippine Assembly elected in 1907 under the American occupation were affluent Filipino politicians. It was no accident that William Howard Taft, the American civil governor at that time, chose members of the oligarchic elite whom he believed were more mature and better prepared to run the affairs of popular government.

But as oligarchic as the membership of the Philippine Assembly and Congress was during the early days, nothing much has changed. Politics in the Philippines continues to remain under the control of a few families who are also members of the oligarchic elite. Today, dynasties that control Philippine politics have become the norm, where members of a politician’s family deem it their privilege and right to run for the same or other elective office when relatives who occupy political office have completed their term. Running for political office is about name recognition. If you’re part of a political dynasty and you carry the same name, you already have tremendous advantage over your opponent.

These dynasties are so entrenched in our political system that they corrupt the democratic process. They exclude others from having an equal opportunity to run for public office. Political dynasties undermine the principle of political equality, and as a consequence, the concentration of political power in the hands of a few families limits the liberating potential of the democratic process.

The current Philippine Constitution prohibits the establishment of political dynasties, and some members of Congress have proposed legislation that will implement this prohibition. But until such law is passed by Congress, a scenario that will not likely see the light of day, we need to develop alternatives for the people to harness their participation and inclusion in the political process.

On January 24, 2013, the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) will convene a forum among concerned sectors of civil society, the academe, students, and the voting public on how Filipinos can effectively put an end to political dynasties. Envisaged to be transformational, the forum will launch the national movement against political dynasties in the Philippines.

An option suggested by this petition is to reject all candidates affiliated with political dynasties in the coming May 2013 elections. But other alternatives will also be identified during the UP-NCPAG January 24th forum, and as our token of support to this cause, we invite you all to sign this petition to show that we are in solidarity with the Filipino people in putting an end to political dynasties.

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