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Experts call for end of political dynasties

Philippine political experts called for deep political reforms to dismantle political dynasties in a recent online forum that presented analyses of ongoing political developments and needed reforms towards a new normal.

“We are in need of stronger public institutions, responsive legislation, good governance, and more responsible citizenship. There is a need to focus on the importance of whole-of-society solutions, strengthening institutions and legislation, the shift to e-governance, and continuous political development in building a new and better normal for the country,” said Prof. Dindo Manhit during a virtual townhall discussion held on Aug 03, 2020.

Dr. Julio Teehankee, Full Professor of Political Science and International Studies and Former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, De La Salle University said, “If a handful of families have managed to control all elected and appointed positions, in practically all the local government positions and national (sic), then that is an indication of a political market failure.”

He said, “One president’s oligarchy is another president’s crony...This system is perpetuated in collusion with the elite of power or the political class, and in the Philippines, the political class is largely composed of political dynasties.”

“If the President, or even the Speaker is genuine about the dismantling of the oligarchy...then he should start in his own backyard, the House of Representatives, and start to pass a genuine anti-political dynasty law.” said Teehankee at the virtual forum hosted by the Stratbase ADR Institute, in partnership with Democracy Watch Philippines and Transparency International Philippines

Dr. Ronald Mendoza, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government defined oligarchy as a small group of powerful individuals or groups that can shape society as it is in politics or in economics and therefore fitting the description of political dynasties, since they are very much concentrating power in the political system.

He said, “Size in competition policy is not necessarily a bad thing. If you use size to promote innovation, if you use size to promote export market growth and generate jobs, size does have its advantages, and we need some of those advantages from a development point of view.”

“Protecting our national sovereignty, human rights, and contracts may look like separate elements, but they are part of the whole democratic recovery,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza further stressed that, “Rather than directly address the health crisis in a timely and decisive manner, some of our leaders burn precious weeks focused on highly divisive issues: the Anti-Terrorism Law, and the failure to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.”

“An abuse of regulatory powers, especially in the case of franchises. This, will attract less investments and the wrong kind of investments; those that disregard institutions, contracts, and rule of law.” Mendoza said.

Ramon Casiple, a staunch advocate for political reforms said, “Whenever we speak about it (oligarchy) , usually it's in relation to the state, or state power... Oligarchy impacts on politics just like what happened, for example, with the Lopez issue in the Philippines and its subsequent effect on press freedom.”

"When the government is playing defensive in its handling of the health crisis, it becomes political. The pandemic will be a politically-linked issue in the coming elections in the Philippines," Casiple said.

Prof. Ayami Suzuki, Professor of Faculty of Law, Doshisha University commented that institution is really necessary in constraining the abuse of power of leaders and at the same time it is very important to complement the lack of will on the part of the leadership or the weakness of leadership.

Topics: political dynasties , Prof. Dindo Manhit , Dr. Julio Teehankee
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