Family and Politics in the Philippines

bol apAs I write this post, there are about four more days left before Election Day in the Philippines. But perhaps when this gets published, it will have already been a day after.

This year, one of the topics frequently discussed during debates and in commentaries is that of political dynasties. A bill pending in our House of Representatives defined political dynasties as, “the concentration, consolidation or perpetuation of public office or political power by persons related to one another.”

According to research, 15 out of our 23 senators have other relatives also holding elective positions. Out of this 15, 11 have relatives serving as congressmen/women.

The debates have mostly circled around whether the existence of political dynasties must be prevented or continued. Many see the prevalence of dynasties a “threat” to democracy because they concentrate power among themselves instead of distribute it. They tend to make and enforce laws in favor of their own interests and not the majority of their constituents.

However, it cannot also be denied that some politicians coming from political families do prove beneficial to the people they serve.

As the basic unit of society, it is the family where a person first learns about his values. As the World Youth Alliance Declaration on the Family puts it, “each human person is carefully taught by the family to be responsible, to commit, to share, and to love.” Thus, it is important that family foundations must be strengthened in order that future generations have clear ideas on what it means to give oneself.

The true gift of self, in which we rightly use our freedom, lies in going beyond our own interests and ourselves. The family is part of a bigger society from which it cannot exclude itself. There is particular need for us to go especially to those who cannot stand up for themselves.

It is a duty of both citizens and political leaders to foster an atmosphere where people are encouraged to contribute to the development of the society.

Elected leaders, especially, are mandated to integrate with the very people whom they serve. They must recognize the needs of their constituents, not by staying behind a desk all day, but by actually going to the masses, finding out their needs, and with them, finding ways to solve or compensate for those needs.

True development lies in recognizing each human person’s worth. And each of us, regardless of our economic status, is capable of contributing to progress. We must all work together to create such an atmosphere. For further reading: WYA Declaration on Good Governance.

By Ma. Zarina San Jose, A WYA Intern in Asia Pacific.