COMMENT: Reforming frontline institutions

THE first dozen or so parts of this commentary series focused on exercising the powers of the presidency to effect the necessary reforms and take the appropriate steps to propel the Filipino nation towards greater political and economic development and in doing so, to break the cycle of poverty which is currently extremely widespread in our society and which generates suffering and humiliation among a large number of our fellow citizens.

In our form of government, reforms and actions undertaken by the president at the top of the hierarchy may not fully achieve the desired goals without the parallel participation and cooperation of the legislative and judicial branches of government as well as local government units (LGU ). While the president has great influence in carrying out LGU responsibilities, as expressed in parts of this series, the entry of LGU leaders into government is not under the direct control of the president.


The biggest problem in the above government institutions is corruption and its apparent perpetuation. In these institutions, incumbents pay more attention to the satisfaction of their self-interest and the perpetuation of power.

In fact, these two elements feed on each other – the resources obtained through the gratification of self-interest provide the fuel for the perpetuation of power which leads to greater gratification of self-interest – a real pleasure. to play the “merry-go-round”. Worse, the enjoyment of advantages and the perpetuation of power by the incumbent extends to his close family circle.

If there is one major factor holding back the realization of our nation’s full potential, it is the dominance in our political system of political dynasties, which, of course, makes its presence felt in the presidency itself. I estimate that our whole nation is governed by an oligarchy of about a hundred political families.

The proliferation of political dynasties is like generalized incest. And you and I know that the proceeds of incest will have some sort of malformation or dysfunction. And what results are doomed to get worse.

As for the justice system, due to the generally corrupt political environment, corruption has become so ingrained in the system that only drastic action can remedy it.

If I were the next president, I would use my presidential powers to the fullest extent necessary to enable the nation of the Philippines to pass enabling legislation banning political dynasties, as instructed by the Constitution. And, in the same way, to pass a law or a decree to contain corruption in the justice system.

End of political dynasties

For a long time, there have been repeated tabling of bills in both houses of Congress banning political dynasties as required by the Constitution. Essentially, these bills provide for the following prohibitions for major national and local elective positions (governor, mayor, barangay captain and district representative):

– The spouse and relatives of a holder with the second degree of consanguinity or affinity (parent; children and their spouses; brother and sister and their spouses) cannot succeed or replace the holder. (Applicable for any elective position.)

– The same parents of an incumbent occupying a local post may not apply for any local or national post.

– The same parents of an incumbent of a national post cannot be candidates for any local or national post.

– If there is no holder of the same family, it is forbidden for candidates of the same family to stand simultaneously in the same election for any local or national position.

Indeed, there is only one member of a family, as defined, who is allowed to hold a national office or a major local office at a time.

If passed, such a bill will effectively curb the development of any political dynasty. As a result, it creates diversity among current and future leaders and thus brings out new ideas more geared towards building a better nation and little tainted with self-interest.

I will strongly support such a bill. I realize that the passage of this kind of bill goes against the interests of the members of the political dynasties who currently hold the majority political power in the country and that the bill risks gathering dust as this has happened several times before. But all the same, I will try to persuade and inflame the loving lawmakers of the country and the people of the Philippines.

In case such actions lead to nothing, I myself will encourage and support the organization of a popular initiative to get the citizens themselves to approve such a law and have it adopted by referendum, like the allows the Constitution.

In fact, when this does happen, recognizing that I will face similar legislative opposition to many of the reform actions we will take as discussed in previous parts of this series, I will encourage the maintenance of a leadership organization. popular as an Alternative Congress and always keep it ready for action.

I realize that such a strong position can create a national political confrontation. But it is something that cannot be avoided if we are to transform our country to a desirable state to enable it to achieve a much better future. My colleagues and I will just have to do our best to make sure the Filipinos come out the winners of this melting pot.

Reform justice

Reforming the justice system is also a very difficult task. But we also have to face the problem. In this case, we will pass a requirement that for any promotion from a judge of a lower court to a higher court, the candidate will have to accept a lifestyle check, including a review of their bank accounts.

The candidate has the right not to accept this exam, but remains where he is. We will then fill the vacant position with another qualified person within the court system who accepts such a review or from outside the court system. Such a requirement will break the cycle of corruption in the justice system.

We must keep in mind that the foregoing strict measures are required by the demands of our present circumstances. To the extent that we are able to create a nation of better educated, more government-minded and more demanding voters; and corruption is seen as shameful and should be condemned, then we no longer need these laws and requirements. We can take them off the books.

In the meantime, we must take drastic measures to enable us to reach where we want to go.

We are ready to take these steps – to do the right thing.

The author is the founder of the national political party Buklod.

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Linda Stewart

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