House dragging feet on anti-dynasty bill

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The House of Representatives is dragging its feet on the pending anti-political dynasty bill, which prohibits two or more individuals who are related within the second degree of consanguinity from holding or running for a national or local post in successive, simultaneous or overlapping terms.

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In taking the chamber to task on Thursday, House Deputy Minority Leader Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list noted that the measure is still stuck in the period of sponsorship.

Congress adjourned sine die on Wednesday and will be on a break until July 28 when President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address.

The anti-dynasty measure was approved by the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms in November 2013 but it only made its debut in the plenary for the first time in 12 years in May this year.

Since then, only Rep. Frednil Castro of Capiz and Rep. Edgar Erice of Caloocan City (Metro Manila) were able to make a sponsorship speech on the measure.

“Actions are yet to be taken on the anti-dynasty bill. It was already approved in the committee level last year. It has reached sponsorship but it ended there even if it is lined up in the agenda everyday. It has been turtle-paced,” Tinio, an author of the measure, told reporters.

An official’s relatives within the first degree of consanguinity include his or her parents, spouse and children, while the second degree will cover his or her siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.

“We appeal to the public that the key is the strong public clamor for this measure, which has been in the Constitution but is being taken for granted,” Tinio said.

In his closing speech before adjournment, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. vowed that the anti-dynasty measure, as well as the bills on Freedom of Information, Fair Competition, amending restrictive constitutional provisions on foreign ownership of public utilities and the Bangsamoro, will hurdle the House by next year.

“The work ethic we displayed gives us the impetus and confidence to look ahead to more fruitful deliberations and decisive action for the passage of more strategic legislation in the second regular session. We want an anti-dynasty law that does not diminish the right to suffrage while effectively proscribing the stranglehold on political power by the few and a Freedom of Information Act that facilitates judicious exercise of the right to be informed of the activities of government and its functionaries,” he said.

“We need to ensure that the inroads and gains attained toward institutionalizing good governance and public accountability will endure even beyond the term of the [Aquino] administration,” Belmonte, a lawyer, added.

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