Christian Monsod, a former chair of the Commission of Elections and one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, on Thursday advised lawmakers who sought his views on Charter change to defer making amendments and instead pass an enabling law banning political dynasties – if the goal is to reduce mass poverty and social inequalities.
“Real change cannot happen until we strike at the roots and not at the branches of the problems. Congress has not passed an anti-dynasty law for 33 years and blames the Constitution for the lapse. That is a lame excuse. The real reason is self-interest,” Monsod said.
“We are still the laggards in our part of the world in addressing the problems of mass poverty and gross inequalities, social, economic, political that [are] rooted in a feudalistic system of dynastic families that has been impervious to change for generations and its companion evil, corruption,” he added.
Monsod was one of the legal experts invited by the House committee on constitutional amendments for a public consultation regarding four pending bills and resolutions, as well as a petition, calling for a constitutional convention to amend the charter.
“So instead of rushing to amend the Constitution, why don’t our legislators pass an anti-dynasty law, of say, four degrees [of separation] for the barangay elections this year? And how about the abuse by political dynasties of the party list system?” he said.
To protect it from abuse, he said the party list system should have safeguards against dynasties, the limit on the number of representatives to three per group removed, and the loophole that allows any politician who claims having a “track record of advocacy” to represent a marginalized sector should be plugged.
Politicians positioning to change the charter for their own selfish interests may no longer seek Monsod’s option after this, but thankfully for the Philippines, the point has already been made and if we are fortunate, there will be enough members of our dynasty-packed house of representatives who will be moved to take action and pass the long-awaited anti-dynasty law that our country and its people have been needing but our representatives have denied us.*