HomeCommentaryWhat do we/they get out of that Con-Con

What do we/they get out of that Con-Con

A con-con election can begin to stamp out the evil triad by prohibiting dynasts as delegates

I interviewed on Sapol-dwIZ my old friend Rep. Rufus Rodriguez about the constitutional convention bill. My first question was if political dynasts are prohibited from becoming con-con delegates.

“No,” he stated the consensus of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments that he chairs. “Any citizen at least 25 years old, even political dynasts, can join. It’s their right.”

That dampened my hope in a con-con. It won’t lead to any reform. It will likely even worsen the country’s situation.

Sure, the 1987 Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to vote and be voted upon. But it also prohibits political dynasties. That’s to equalize access to opportunities for public service.

Congress is directed by the 1987 Constitution to enact such prohibition. It hasn’t done so for 36 years.

Reason: most lawmakers are dynasts. They won’t bar themselves, spouses, offspring, parents, and siblings from public office. It’s against their interest.

Politics has become a family business. Dynasts do everything, including cheat and kill, to gain power. Multi-billion pesos are spent. Multi-billion pesos also are stolen. Nothing’s left for public good.

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Dynasticism is crasser in the Philippines than Asian neighbors. Lawmakers, mayor-spouses, and governor offspring divert public roads into private resorts. Through provincial and municipal permits they corner local businesses, from hardware stores and gas stations to seaports and quarries.

The trio of social evils is often stated: dynasticism-inequality-corruption. Eradicate any one and the two others will wane.

A con-con election can begin to stamp out the evil triad by prohibiting dynasts as delegates. Social equality and clean government can come true.

But since family members will be let into a con-con, things can only decline. In final deliberations on the House con-con bill, 301 mostly dynasts voted yes and only seven said no. Sila-sila na lang.

Expect a con-con to prolong dynastic tenures and lift term limits. Happier days are here for them. Woe to us.

Dynast-delegates will do those at people’s expense. They will get P10,000 daily stipend for at least seven months, plus lavish meals, hotel and airline bookings. They will be self-entitled to offices, staffs, operating and overhead expenses courtesy of taxpayers.

Congressmen claim that their objective for a con-con is economic reform. Unrestricting foreign ownership in utilities, mining, and media supposedly will entice investors.

What a lame excuse! Contradicting the Charter, they’ve already redefined utilities by law to exclude airlines, airports, ride-hailing, shipping and telecoms from 60-percent Filipino ownership.

Economic amending can be easier done via constituent assembly of Congress, not a con-con. Such assembly can try to liberalize the economy by their three-fourths vote. But there’s no fun in that for dynasts.

Once convened, there’s no stopping a con-con. It can deliberate beyond the scheduled seven months. It can remove the old prohibition on dynasties. It can concoct new self-benefits.

Senators are also dynasts. Three pairs of them are siblings and parent-offspring. It would’ve been four had one dynast not been edged out by another in the last election. Speaking of which, even supposedly reformist presidential and VP candidates had dynasts in their senatorial and local tickets.

What worries senators is their lack of local constituencies in towns and districts. A con-con might abolish their chamber but not dynasties.

One senator who has no dynasty (yet) has an addled view of the issue. He wants a con-con to abolish the party list because dynasts have co-opted what should be for the marginalized. It’s like executing the rape victim, not the rapist.

A con-con will have 253 elected and 63 appointed delegates. The 63 will be named by the five highest officials of the land, four of whom are dynasts. Guess who the 63 will be, if not fellow dynasts.

Jarius Bondoc is an award-winning Filipino journalist and author based in Manila. He writes opinion pieces for The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon and hosts a radio program on DWIZ 882 every Saturday. Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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