Enrile: Anti-political dynasty law 'impractical'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 2) — Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Sunday that passing an anti-political dynasty law as mandated by the Constitution is "impractical" and cannot be implemented.

"The provision in the Constitution cannot be implemented because it's impractical. You know, if we are in a democracy, it is the function of democracy to let the people say who will lead them," Enrile said during CNN Philippines' #TheFilipinoVotes forum.

The 94-year-old veteran politician and lawmaker made the statement after mistakenly saying that a ban against political dynasties "cannot even [be] put in the Constitution."

According to Article II, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution, "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law."

There have been several attempts to enact a law to implement this provision but all have failed, especially in the House of Representatives which is dominated by members of political families.

An anti-dynasty bill reached the plenary in the lower house for the first time in 2014, but it was not tackled because of concern that congressmen would leave the hall en masse, delaying discussions on other legislation.

"The problem of political dynasties should be addressed to the electorate," Enrile stressing, pointing out that the Philippines is a democracy.

In 2013, the former senator defended his son's Senate bid against criticisms that his family was building a political dynasty.

"If brothers or sister or parents or children are capable to serve the people, why deny the service to those people? Let the electorate determine who their leaders should be and not be," Enrile said.

Former presidential adviser on political affairs Francis Tolentino, who hails from a political family, agreed.

"Marami pong political dynasties sa Pilipinas na maganda naman ang ginagawa," he pointed out.

[Translation: There are many political dynasties in the Philippines which have done good things.]

He also cited the case of the late U.S. President George H.W. Bush, patriarch of a political dynasty which Tolentino credited for "restoring prestige" to the U.S. Military. His son and namesake was also elected president.

A 2016 Pulse Asia survey found that 34 percent of Filipinos would vote for members of political dynasties, while 32 percent said they would not.

Ateneo School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza previously said in a Senate hearing that the poorest provinces are often led by "fat dynasties" or families with two or more members in politics.

Of the eight participants in CNN Philippines' #TheFilipinoVotes forum, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and Senators Bam Aquino and JV Ejercito were in favor of a ban on political dynasties, having filed bills on this.

Former Senator Serge Osmeña is also in favor of legislating a ban on political dynasties, but believes that the move should come from the House and define a dynasty as a family with members in government in the same province.

In contrast, the anti-dynasty provision in the Sangguniang Kabataan reform law prohibits those with relatives in politics within the second degree of consanguinity and affinity from running for a seat in the organization .

Former police chief Bato dela Rosa and De La Salle University School of Law Dean Chel Diokno were not asked to state their position on the issue during the forum.