Movement Against Dynasties launched in Mindanao
The people’s initiative aimed at compelling Congress to pass an enabling law for the Constitutional provision banning political dynasties continues to gain ground with the recent launching of the Movement Against Dynasties (MAD) in Mindanao starting with Cagayan de Oro City last Sunday, March 3, 2013.
Leaders of the movement said the initiative was launched in three of Cagayan de Oro City’s largest Catholic churches: The Church of the Black Nazarene, the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral and the Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church in Barangay Camama-an.
“Our opening salvo in Mindanao aims to make voters aware of the proliferation of political dynasties and convince them not to vote for members of political dynasties in the coming elections,” said Quintin San Diego, MAD Chairman. “We are asking church goers to sign the petition proposing the enactment of an enabling law that will make the provision of the 1987 Philippine Constitution against political dynasties operational and penalize violators.
MAD is a nationwide non-partisan organization of volunteers from socio, civic, and religious organizations, non-government organizations, cause -oriented advocates and university and college students mobilized under the aegis of Sec. 5 of Republic Act 6735, the Initiative and Referendum Act.
“This provides the people to exercise the power of people’s initiative or referendum by getting at least 10 percent of registered voters, represented by at least three percent of registered voters in every legislative district of the entire country, to sign a petition that will be presented to the COMELEC to call for a referendum that will compel Congress to enact and pass an enabling law on Section 26,” San Diego added.
Section 26 of the Constitution states that “The state shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”
“After 26 years, congress has not acted on the proposed enabling law because 70 percent of legislators belong to political dynasties,” Danilo O. Olivares, MAD co-chairman, told local media covering the launch. “Neither the Supreme Court nor COMELEC can be expected to act on petitions to prohibit dynastic candidates from running for the simple and convenient reason that the Constitution does not provide an enabling law.”
Olivares said however that they realize that the signature campaign may go beyond 2013 and well into the 2016 election. However, he stresses that by doing the signature campaign all over the country now, they will be able to inform the people that political dynasties are prohibited by law, are wrong and are harmful to the country and as such it is up to the people who not to vote come election day. “If, because of our information campaign people on May 2013 will no longer vote for candidates belong to a dynastic family, our job is almost 50 percent done. There will be less political dynasties in the 2016 presidential election,” Olivares said.
MAD’s position is that there should be ONLY ONE ELECTED OFFICIAL per family up to the 2nd degree by affinity or consanguinity.
In his homily during the noontime high mass Sunday at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma cited recent studies presented by the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Institute of Management which tend to show a correlation between corruption, poverty and violence.
“Political dynasties are co-related with corruption because there are no longer checks and balances when people from the same families are in office and helping one another,” Bishop Ledesma noted. “Another correlation that these studies have borne out is that political dynasties are co-related with poverty itself. The more the larger the political dynasties in government, the more poverty seems to persist in our economy.”
The prelate also cited how another study showed that already 70 percent of public officials today belong to political dynasties.
“It is, I think, a sad commentary that our leadership cannot be more widely spread among people who are perhaps more competent, more conscientious and more committed than members of political dynasties,” he noted.
MAD was launched last February 17 at the historic Baclaran Church where MAD volunteers got hundreds of church goers to sign the petition. Baclaran is the site of the successful signature campaigns in 1985 and in 2009 which convinced Cory Aquino and later, Nonoy Aquino to accept the people’s draft for them to run for president.
“I am happy that MAD has finally come at last. It really took time in coming,” said Rev. Fr. Rey Montanto, parish priest of the Nazareno church. “This is enshrined in our constitution but no lawmaker took it up to author an enabling law probably because it will work against the interest of his/her own family. It is therefore high time that the people themselves through an initiative force the next congress to take this constitutional provision seriously. Political dynasties work mainly for the interest of the families in power and don’t give chances to poorer and lesser known individuals with leadership potential.”
Olivares noted that most of the volunteers that Fr. Nathan Lerio, the Church’s head of the Social Action Committee in Cagayan de Oro City, recruited in last Sunday’s signature campaign were very young boys and girl ranging in age from 13 to 20 years old who successfully gathered at least 3,000 signatures in the three churches. Olivares said this was a good sign, that the youth, the future leaders of the Philippines, at an early age were already aware of the problems of the country and were willing to help right what was patently wrong in government.
The MAD leaders said their next targets for the Mindanao campaign were the cities of Davao , Zamboanga and Surigao.