Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it was powerless to stop political dynasties because Congress is yet to pass an enabling law for the constitutional prohibition.

Atty. Veronico Petalcorin, officer-in-charge at the Comelec regional office, said it was impossible for the election body to prevent relatives of incumbent officials from seeking government posts in the May 2013 elections.

“Comelec can’t do anything about it. There is no enabling law that prohibits political dynasties even if it is not allowed under the Constitution,” Petalcorin said.

But the Comelec official said it’s up to the voters to choose candidates belonging to one clan.

Article II, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution provides that: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law”.

According to a recent study of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center (AIMPC), the number of families running the country through political dynasties is growing, proof that political dynasty is flourishing.

A report issued by the AIMPC said that at least 115, or 68%, of the members of the 15th Congress (the House of Representatives) elected in 2010 have relatives who have been members of the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th congresses, or local officials who were elected in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010.

Comelec defines political dynasty as a situation where persons related to each other within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity hold elective office simultaneously or some offices successively in a legislative district, region, province, city or municipality.

For the May 2013 national and local elections, data from the Comelec shows that for Eastern Visayas, the following families are running for election in various public posts: Daza and Ong families in Northern Samar; Tan and Uy families in Samar; Romualdez, Petilla, Loreto, Apostol, Codilla ,Salvacion and Gomez families in Leyte; the Espinas in Biliran; and Mercado and Lerias families in Southern Leyte.

A number of candidates belonging to political families are also running for mayor, vice mayor and councilors in various municipalities in the region. (REYAN L. ARINTO)

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