Friday, November 16, 2012

Political Dynasties

Sad but true: The more progressive the times are, the more regressive Philippine politics become. No. this is not about the shameful issue of “guns, goons, and gold” which have become the standard trio for political conquests especially on the occasion of elections. Neither is this about such disturbing matters as political maneuverings with the customary accompanying election cheating and other questionable agenda – plus the additional “epal” phenomenon which is anything but edifying. Such errant and erratic practices have become normal in the way politics is done and lived in the country.

Lately though, slowly but surely, there came to fore the now famous or infamous reality of “Political Dynasties”. As politics is the science of governance, the administration of public affairs, the conduct of the affairs of the State, dynasties mean family rule, lineage domination, dominion by blood and/or affinity – or the “kami-kami” governance in more simple terms. In this case, not only wealth is inherited but public offices as well.

As of this writing, it is not a secret that the tenure of public offices either simultaneously or successively has largely become family affairs. Husband, wife, and child. Father, son, and daughter. Mother and sons and in-laws. Brothers, sisters, and uncles. These are some of the combinations of dynastic political rule in the Philippines. In fact, such dynasties in politics are becoming even more common and wherefore more normal as well.

It is worth nothing that even as early as 1986 – more than two decades ago – the Philippine Constitution already made the following provision as nothing less than a State Policy: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” (Art. I, State Policies, Sec. 26) The fact that anti-constitutional political dynasties are now some kind of a rule than the exception, the reasons behind it can be any or all of the following:

One: The State itself is incompetent if not impotent to make any guarantee against the tenure and exercise of exclusive political power among family members. The constitutional provision is already done and affirmed long ago. But its reality is not even in sight as of this writing.

Two: Public service must be not only a source of power but also a fountain of wealth. Otherwise, how come so many men and women want to be “public servants,” i.e., servers to the people? It must be true after all, that there are instead “self-servants”.

Three: The family orientation or domestic disposition of the Filipinos is so strong that it extends to political dynastic rule. This makes political dynasties but expressions of family love and concern – and therefore in accord with the Filipinos psyche. Ha?