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New law aimed at wiping out dynasties

MANILA (UCAN): A new law that, for the first time in Philippine history addresses the banning of political dynasties in the country, has received a widespread popular acclaim.

The president, Noynoy Aquino, signed the bill into law on January 19 prohibiting young people, who have relatives holding elective positions in government, from seeking a seat in the SangguniangKabataan (Youth Council).

The Youth Council is a legislative body composed of elected young people who formulate policies and implement government programmes and projects for young people.

However, most of those who are elected to the council come from prominent political families and clans that have the capacity to mount campaigns during elections.

Authors of the new law have expressed the apprehension that the Youth Council could become a virtual playground for political dynasties.

Political dynasties, which are banned in the Philippine constitution, are composed of families whose members have been holding political power for generations. Sometimes, several family members occupy government posts simultaneously.

The Philippine bishops have been vocal in criticising what it described in a 2013 pastoral letter as the widening practice of political dynasties in the country, saying “It breeds corruption and ineptitude.”

Although the constitution prohibits political dynasties, no law has been passed to implement the prohibition. Ironically, the president who signed it into law comes from an influential political clan.

The law states that Youth Council officials must not be related to any incumbent elected as a national or local official.

Kaka Bag-ao, one of the authors of the law, said it is the first and only law that has an anti-political dynasty provision.

“When it comes to preventing political dynasties from monopolising power and resources in our communities, the best place to begin is in the Youth Council,” Bag-ao said in a statement.

“It is the only law that nips political dynasties in the bud,” Henrietta de Villa, the chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, a Church-backed election watchdog, added.

She then expressed hope that the law will be strictly implemented. “We will monitor its strict and undiluted implementation,” she said on January 20.

Father Conegundo Garganta called it a good decision, while Gio Tingson, the chairperson of the National Youth Commission, said in a statement that the provision against political dynasties in the new law “is an important step toward empowered and meaningful youth participation in governance.”

 

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