‘Nothing wrong with House of Arroyos’

‘Nothing wrong with House of Arroyos’
By Christian V. Esguerra, Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The lower chamber in the next Congress may become a “House of Arroyos” if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her two sons and her in-laws run and win in the May 10 elections.

But the President’s spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said there was nothing wrong with a concentration of Arroyos in the House of Representatives because other political families were similarly situated.

“It’s rather unfair to single out one family,” Saludo said Wednesday in a press conference. “The Arroyo family, as far as we know, is not the only family that has multiple [members] in the legislature.”

Saludo cited the case of a mother and her son in the Senate, apparently referring to former Sen. Loi Ejercito, the wife of ousted President Joseph Estrada, and their son Jinggoy.

As well, there are “a brother and sister in the Senate” and “a sitting senator whose son is running for [senator],” he said.

The current Senate includes the siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano, and an outgoing senator, Rodolfo Biazon, whose son Rufino, a congressman, is running for senator.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. also has a daughter running for the Senate. (His son and namesake has a pending protest in connection with the 2007 senatorial election.)

“Let’s not focus on one family,” Saludo said. “Let us look at all of them and ask each of them what message they are sending.”

No need to campaign

Press Secretary Crispulo Icban said the President should have no problem winning the congressional race in the second district of Pampanga.

Asked how much time Ms Arroyo would devote to campaigning, Icban said: “None. She doesn’t need to.”

Ms Arroyo is seeking the seat of her elder son, Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.

The son said he had made a “sacrifice” in giving way to his mother. But it turned out that he would attempt to remain in the House as a nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, a party-list group claiming to represent security guards.

Rep. Diosdado Arroyo, the President’s other son, and Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, her brother-in-law, are both seeking reelection in Camarines Sur and Negros Occidental, respectively.

It remains to be seen whether another of the President’s in-laws—Ma. Lourdes Arroyo—would still be a nominee of her party-list group Kasangga, which claims to represent microentrepreneurs.

But according to Saludo, the issue of political dynasties “should be addressed in law.”

“As far as we know, this is allowed under the Constitution. So I suppose we’re complying with the Constitution by letting people who want to run, run. I mean, that’s the story here,” he said.

Certain lawmakers have tried to pass legislation against political dynasties, to no avail.

Asked if Malacañang would support such a measure, Saludo said: “This is academic now because the next time we will see measures being filed in Congress, there will be a different president.”

Good advocates will do

But Gilberto Teodoro Jr., standard-bearer of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, said the party-list system was flawed.

“You reap what you sow. I understood that the concept of party-list system was for equalizing political parties, but this never came about. So theoretically, anybody can be marginalized now, depending on the circumstance,” Teodoro said when asked about the young Arroyo as a party-list nominee.

He said that if personalities could prove that they could be “good advocates” of a cause, they should not be stopped from joining a party-list group.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.