SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Forever theirs to keep

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 April) – Whether you ask the Angaras, Enriles, Cayetanos, Binays and other dynastic political families, they have one ready answer: There’s nothing wrong with political dynasties as long as they deliver what they think they should deliver.

But that’s basically where the problem lies. They define on their own terms the standard of governance, good governance to be exact, leaving no room for discourse and scrutiny. Worse, they presume – or impose the idea – that their spouses, children and other relatives also possess the genes that have enabled them to achieve the things they have accomplished, illusory or real, but mostly of the illusory kind if the country’s current state of affairs were the basis.

We know of course that they have managed to hold on through a skillful use of resources, connections and at times some amount of coercion against those who stand in the way.

Another excuse, which is as flimsy as the one cited above, for the refusal of the dynastic political families to give way to other aspirants is that there is [yet] no law defining dynasty. In effect, they’re saying that they may not be forced to yield their positions of power and privilege in the absence of a clear legal basis.

There again lies the problem. The power to enact such law rests with the people whose greed and ambition to cling on to power knows no limits. Who among them will give up the opportunity to pocket tens of millions of pesos in taxpayers’ money every year through so-called pork barrel funds, bribes and other perks? Who is foolish enough to do away with a position that will enable him or her to protect a personal or family business – or perhaps, a criminal undertaking that corrupt
law enforcers and court officials would turn a blind eye to?

Political dynasties have thrived not because there is no law. In the first place, what law can be higher than the Constitution itself? The problem is not the absence of a law. The problem is contempt for the law by the same people who are sworn to uphold it. Or maybe, they just don’t understand the oath of office that they recite every three or six years.

The whole thing therefore is not about the absence of a law [on dynasty] passed by Congress. The issue boils down to the shameful character of our politics. For all its infirmities, the Constitution is clear that dynasties are forbidden in this republic. There is no need to go into the minute details of how it should be defined. There is only the need for decency and delicadeza.

There may be nothing wrong when elected officials seek re-election until they finish the terms allowed by law. But when they try to perpetuate themselves in power by bequeathing their positions or allocating elective posts to their family members as if these were part of their birth right, things have not only become wrong, they have gone crazy. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at