The circus begins

By Atty. Farah G. Decano


THERE is no legal impediment for President Rodrigo Duterte to run as Vice President of his daughter, Davao City Mayor, Sarah Duterte.  If its legal, then why is there much brouhaha over his looming vice-presidential candidacy?

I think the naysayers fear for the concentration of powers in one family. We have seen this phenomenon in patches all over the country.  Many Filipino families control power over their respective local government units for decades.  We have the Dys of Cagayan, the Tans of Samar, the Revillas of Cavite and the Villars of Las Pinas. The longer these families get entrenched in elective positions, they amass more influence, more followers and more resources. It becomes more difficult for others to take the reigns of power, inject fresh inputs and adhere to a more transparent governance.

Yes, it is more difficult for dynasties to observe transparency in their administration. The successors of politically-rooted families would normally not to expose the anomalies of their predecessors, otherwise, the image that their bloodline maintained over the years would crumble.  The younger politicos cannot showcase their ideals for open government, either, because that may put their ancestors in bad light.

According to one study of Ronald Mendoza of the Ateneo School of Law, family dynasties in most local government units are often detrimental to the governed.  Progress in these family-controlled localities has been turtle-paced.

One may argue that there could be no concentration of powers if President Rodrigo Duterte becomes the immediate sub of Mayor Sarah Duterte, if she wins, because the power of the said occupant is merely to wait for his ascension.

This may not be entirely true.  The Office of the Vice President enjoys influence no matter what. In fact, it is given a budget for the maintenance of his/her office.  Vice-President Leni Rebredo, although in the opposition, enjoys much clout all over the Philippines.  Using her authority, she is able to organize meaningful projects, especially during this time of pandemic.   Same thing was true with former Vice President Jejomar Binay. He was able to engage with local leaders all over the country. He, like VP Leni, did not merely sit as a president-in-the-waiting.  They were looked upon as a beacon of hope if some were disgusted with the present administration.

A father as vice president to a daughter president cannot provide such optimism to the discouraged and the disappointed. He would only be seen as a defender and an apologist of the present dispensation. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, should the president mess up, may turn out to be a light from an oncoming train.

We do not want the deplorable incidence of dynasties in local governments be extended in the national level.  This is a disaster for democracy. There will be a silencing of opinions that differ from the controlling family’s interest.  What with the billion-peso confidential funds that a sitting president has, it is easy for one family to rule a country for decades.  All one has to do with these funds is to buy loyalties of political leaders and clans, silence the opposition and cater to the whims of allied businesses and foreign countries.  The controlling family would have to ensure that the power stays with them to avoid condemnation and criminal actions later.

The Philippine Government is not a closed family corporation with shares that are limited only to one bloodline. Filipinos must be vigilant. We must not allow what we already observe of dynasties in local governments to happen in the entire country.

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