Litmus test for political dynasty ban

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


NOW that the barangay elections will finally be held in May this year, many are now beginning to share common thoughts about the state of their respective barangays.

There is a growing sense to finally take Edmund Burke’s quote to heart: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Collectively, many are beginning to think and ask: How can we help elect brand new kapitans who can lead our communities with a vision? How can we convince others that we need barangay and youth leaders whose integrity are beyond reproach, and will not allow themselves to be mere henchmen of corrupt elected officials?

Highest in their campaign agenda: Free their communities and families from the clutches of drug lords, pushers and protectors! And, they have agreed to campaign against known bullies, members of private armies of the mayor and congressmen, and yes, rumormongers!

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BANNING MAYORS’ RELATIVES. Speaking of electing new leaders in the barangays, the biggest stumbling block for good governance is the proclivity or predisposition of mayors to have their wives, mistresses, and children elected as kapitans, regardless of their capabilities.

But this year’s elections may yet finally bring about some real reforms if not by law, at least by consensus in our communities to support the constitutional ban on political dynasties. At least, in this year’s SK elections, there is the provision in the SK Reform Act that explicitly bans immediate family members and or relatives of incumbent elected officials, from seeking posts in SK. 

Section 10 of Republic Act 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 reads: the candidate “must not be related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity to any incumbent elected national official or to any incumbent elected regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay official, in the locality where he or she seeks to be elected.”

Second-degree relatives include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, parents-in-law, daughters-in-law and sons-in-law. (We note young mistresses and lovers of mayors and congressmen are not considered relatives and therefore, are qualified).

 But while there is no similar ban in electing barangay officials, thousands of families I am told, do plan to campaign against the mayors’ relatives running for barangay posts.

 After all, the intent of that law is compliant with our constitution that bans political dynasties.

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IMPRESSIVE BEGINNING. Inarguably, not all relatives of mayors are incompetent or are unqualified. In fact, they do have the advantage of learning facets of good governance from their relative-elected officials (assuming they are the paragon of dedication to public service).

It is in this thought that I had hoped this was the case with Kapitana Jinky Zaplan, of Barangay Ventenilla in Sta. Barbara town (being the wife of Sta, Barbara Mayor Carlito Zaplan) when she assumed the presidency of the provincial federation of Liga ng Barangay. After all her husband has served more than 9 years as mayor.

Unfortunately, as records show, she failed her constituency in the Liga after initially showing a promise of active leadership upon assumption of her post in 2016.

She initially displayed some grounded political savvy when she filed a resolution urging all barangay captains and members of barangay council to take drug tests.

She said then: “There is now an urgent need to take a serious and more comprehensive program to fight illegal drugs not only in the urban areas but more so in the barangays,” and even went on to describe the important roles that the barangay officials play in their respective localities being “in the forefront of development in the promotion of peace, order and security.”

Zaplan said the implementation of drug testing program in the barangays will ensure that the reins of good governance in that level will be in the hands of officials “best chosen by the people who are drug-free and who can better serve their constituents, especially so now that the barangay election is again in the offing.”

She even identified the source of funding for the barangay officials drug tests.

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BIG LETDOWN. Her statements and responses to questions of the local media recently on actions taken by her constituents in the Liga regard to the resolution she filed in support of President Duterte’s war on drugs, were a big letdown.

In fact, she couldn’t bring herself to do what she herself preached – urging all kapitans to take the drug test if only to demonstrate the level of commitment of the kapitan to the war on drugs. During our PUNCH interview, she admitted wittingly or unwittingly that she had not taken the drug test herself!

She wasn’t even certain how many of her peers complied with her resolution, neither was she aware how many and who among her peers took the drug tests as she directed, or were arrested in buy-bust operations.

After making the province believe that she can lead the Liga into making it a strong partner of the provincial and national government in the campaign against illegal drugs, she did nothing to back her words.

Never mind that she failed to see the significance of the example set by Guv Pogi when he directed all Capitol employees to take the drug test, with him leading the line but to fail to see any urgency in the context of President Duterte’s constant message admonishing kapitans across he country for being involved in illegal drug trade as protectors, financiers and peddler, is beyond me.

To say, therefore, that she is a disappointment after all the big hoopla and in spite of being a mayor’s wife, is an understatement. 

In sum, she lost the opportunity to make a difference for the province, for her town, for her barangay and for herself. Sayang!

Let’s pray that the next Liga president will have a vision for the Liga worthy of note by both the national and provincial governments.

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LOSING THE WAR VS. MUFFLERS.  Last month, Dagupan City passed the long overdue ordinance on silencing the loud and disruptive mufflers of vehicles, particularly of motorcycles.  But it seems, the city’s law enforcers are not keen on strictly enforcing it.

The city’s night duty patrol teams are either sleeping on the job or simply began having hearing problems because the loud motorcycles driven by arrogant teens go by unmolested in all parts of the city while most everyone is trying to get some restful sleep.

But worse, the city’s barangay kapitans and their barangay tanods appear not to have heard about the ordinance authored by Councilor Red Erfe-Mejia. If perhaps the police do not have the manpower nor the nerve to flag down noisy riders, barangay officials know who own the motorcycles and tricycles that careen through the city’s streets in populated areas.

In sharp contrast, the Calasiao government under its young mayor, Joseph Bauzon, and police chief, P/ Superintendent Charlie Umayam, are keen on strictly enforcing the town’s ordinance. outlawing loud mufflers. Reports of riders being flagged down and cited for violations, and their motorcycles being impounded have reached many grumbling Dagupeños and Mangaldanons who feel helpless.

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