Penson’s Anti-Dynasty Advocacy

With the nine senatorial candidates in the second and final Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates of ABS-CBN last night, April 28, warming up to the questions raised by the panel of veteran journalists Linda Jumilla, Tony Velasquez, and myself, I got to ask Ricardo Penson my other question.

Penson’s education credentials are formidable and his anti-political dynasty advocacy is well known, thus I asked him a practical question:

Nasa sentro ng plataporma mo ang pagbuwag at pagbawal sa mga political dynasty. Hiniling mo nga sa Korte Suprema na utusan ang Kongreso na magpasa ng batas laban sa mga political dynasty. 

Pero alam ng lahat na mahirap, baka nga suntok sa buwan, na mapasa ng KOngreso ang isang anti-dynasty law.

Kung ikaw ay mahalala sa Senado, paano ka dapat husgahan ng taong bayan kung walang pumasa na anti dynasty law sa iyong termino?

(Your political platform is anchored on the break-up or restriction of political dynasties. In fact you petitioned the Supreme Court to force Congress to pass an anti-dynasty law.

But we all know that passing an anti-dynasty law will be difficult, maybe even a “shot in the dark” in a dynasty infested Congress.  

If you will be elected in the Senate, how should the voters judge your performance if no anti-dynasty law is passed during your term?)

I thought this was a fair question given his almost singular focus on an anti-dynasty advocacy during the whole campaign period. He and Atty. Samson Alcantara had earlier launched an initiative to ban political dynasties.

Penson’s petition to the Supreme Court to compel Congress to pass an anti-dynasty law in January 2013 was dismissed “with finality” by the Supreme Court in March 2013.

I also wanted him to reflect and tell the voters how he would want to be judged in a scenario when an anti-dynasty bill fails to become law despite the supposed support of many candidates this election.

Alas I didn’t get an answer. He reiterated his opposition to political dynasties and surprisingly said that he believed the anti-dynasty provision in the Constitution was self executing.  Now this really confused me.  He had earlier petitioned the Supreme Court in January to compel Congress to pass an anti-dynasty law arguing that while the 1987 Constitution prohibits political dynasties such provision is not self-executing so there need to be a law enacted to define political dynasties.

If the Constitutional provision (Section 26) is self executing, why petition the Supreme Court to compel Congress? And if it is self executing, why promise that you will file an anti-dynasty bill if elected Senator? And is the “self-executing’ provision also the basis for mobilizing peoples initiative?

Cleary something is amiss in the explanations of Penson on political dynasties and how the voters should judge him if no anti-dynasty law is passed in the 16th Congress.

This fact check was conducted by UP Vice President for Public Affairs J. Prospero De Vera III, DPA. Vice President De Vera is a professor in Public Administration at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance in UP Diliman.

J. Prospero E. de Vera III
Author: J. Prospero E. de Vera III
Prof. J. Prospero E. De Vera III, DPA is the University of the Philippines System Vice President for Public Affairs.
Professor De Vera teaches Public Administration at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) in UP Diliman. He has spent at least three decades in the policy arena working in the legislative and executive branches of government in both the Philippines and the United States.

Tags: Political Dynasties