POSTSCRIPT / October 23, 2012 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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‘Pedrito’ doll a Pinoy boy version of Barbie

MISSING ITEM: Some environmentalist groups and readers have complained that my Oct. 14 Postscript titled “Environment lovers, visit Clark and weep” is missing from the PhilSTAR archive. Maybe it is just a technical glitch or housekeeping oversight.

Anyway, those who want to read that piece, and copy or pass it on, may visit my website and find it there under Archives or click it from the rightmost column listing “More Recent Postscripts.”

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TRIVIALITY: As a Catholic, I don’t feel comfortable with the production and propagation – by Church groups no less — of a doll called “Pedrito” made in the likeness of newly canonized San Pedro Calungsod.

The 15-inch-tall doll, which looks like a toy, trivializes the saintly attributes of our own San Pedro, the Bisaya catechist who gave his life defending the faith while on a mission in Guam in the 17thCentury.

San Pedro should not be treated and marketed like a Pinoy male “Barbie.” Some people, kids especially, might start regarding and handling it as a toy.

Small may be beautiful at times, but Vice President Jojo Binay should not have played along and had his picture taken grinning while clutching the Pedrito doll. He should have had the sense to focus instead, with proper reverence, on the statue of the saint himself.

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ALTAR PIECE?: What happens now when Catholics who do not know any better or cannot afford a Pedro Calungsod statue start putting the Pedrito doll on their home altars, lighting candles and praying before it?

How will the National Commission for the Canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, which is reportedly behind the production of the doll, handle such a situation bordering on idolatry?

The NCCBPC may want to channel its funds and fervor to producing more statues of San Pedro Calungsod instead of the Pedrito toy. The commission can also campaign for wider knowledge (research included) and devotion for our very own San Pedro.

Let’s not be carried away by misplaced religiosity.

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DYNASTY ISSUE: The political dynasty issue refuses to die, which I think is right — considering how the question is central to the 2013 midterm elections that might just be swamped by old and upcoming dynasties.

With due respect to legal eagles in the Commission on Elections who say there is no enabling law prohibiting political dynasties, I say there is. The Constitution itself is the law “prohibit(ing) political dynasties.”

Section 26 of Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies) says: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and PROHIBIT political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

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DEFINING THE TERM: That phrase “as may be defined by law” has been seized upon by those who want to make it look super difficult to frustrate the political dynasties.

My layman’s thesis is that there is already a law (the Constitution itself) that has expressly prohibited political dynasties.

Note that Section 26 says “as may be DEFINED by law” instead of using the usual phrases “as may be provided by law” and “as may be prescribed by law” that pepper the 1987 Constitution.

All that is needed is a new law DEFINING “political dynasty.” The Big Boys in the Congress have refused to obey the constitutional order for them to define the term, because doing so may loosen their grip on power.

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REJECT THEM: As I will keep saying till Election Day in May next year, actually we the people do not need a law to define for us “political dynasty.” We can spot dynastic candidates with their recognizable brand names.

The 1987 Constitution commands that “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service.” Yet after 25 years in a nation of almost 100 million, only a dozen old political clans and another dozen emerging dynasties continue to lord it over the masses.

Elder members of dynasties pass on their government posts to their wives, children, siblings and close relatives as if these were family possessions.

With or without a law, however, we already know the dynastic candidates. In protest, LET’S NOT VOTE FOR THEM – especially those running for Senate and House seats.

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S.C. SUIT: A certain Louis Biraogo has filed a petition as a taxpayer, asking the Supreme Court to compel the Comelec to outlaw political dynasties. He cited Section 26, Article II, quoted above.

My guess is that the High Court will reject it in view of the absence of a law defining the term “political dynasty.” My fear is that the petition may have been designed precisely to be thrown out and thereby produce an SC decision favoring the dynasties.

Biraogo also asked the tribunal to order the Comelec to rule which are the dynasties and then ban their candidates. On the face of it, the Comelec cannot validly do that.

Replying to media questions, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. gave a preview of their stand: “There’s nothing we can do. There is no enabling law that prohibits political dynasty though it is prohibited under the Constitution.”

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SIMPLIFY: To reiterate, what is missing is not a law BANNING political dynasties (there is), but a law DEFINING the term used in the Constitution.

In view of the refusal of the Congress, dominated by the dynasties and their allies, to provide a definition, Brillantes suggested a People’s Initiative to introduce a constitutional amendment making the dynasty ban clearer.

But the amendment route is a long complicated road, especially with the residual fear that opening the charter to revision may bring in a flood of unwanted changes.

To summarize: Let us not wait for an amendment. Filipino voters already know who the dynastic candidates are. Let us simplify the problem by just rejecting them at the polls and campaigning against them.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 23, 2012)

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