By Eden Eve S. Lacea

PHOTO: John Eric Mendoza /

Controversial topics on political dynasties and turncoatism set sparks on presidential aspirants as they exchanged arguments during the second Comelec presidential debate at Sofitel Tent, Pasay City last Sunday, April 2, 2022. 

With less than five weeks left before the May 9 elections, heated standoffs between the invited presidential bets took place. But another empty podium was left by the survey-leading candidate Bongbong Marcos, who once again declined to attend the official debates hosted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The heated face-offs started with labor leader Leody de Guzman’s response on whether government corruptions were a problem between the elected official or the system, to which he emphasized the need for reform in the electoral format as well as the banning of political dynasties.

“We must change our political system and make a reform on the elections of our country. Even if we have strict laws and officials who are good at chasing corrupt personnel, if political dynasties or ‘trapos’ still enter our government, then theft will still be imminent, ” Leody said. 

This differed from Senator Panfilo Lacson’s argument, quoting that a person’s weakness is the cause of corruption and not the problem of the system.

“The system is not weak. We have a lot of laws and the constitution that run it. It is the weakness of a person in the government,” Senator Lacson answered.

“If a leader cannot follow what he preaches, then he will not succeed,'' he added.

“The biggest problem is the trapos (traditional politicians) and the political dynasties are the ones who keep getting elected in government,” labor leader de Guzman highlighted, rebutting Lacson's earlier statement.

The senator then retorted by saying that offering power or money is the best tool in discerning a good or bad official.

“That’s why I said it’s people who are the problem. For me, the test of character to any official is to offer them power or money. If they pass the test, their character is good. It’s the leader who needs to set an example so that they can fully implement their policies,” Lacson said.

De Guzman once again pressed on the issue of political dynasties and traditional politicians, calling out the flaws of the election system. 

“What I’m talking about is the system of election, not of people. What I’m saying is even if the law allows the Comelec to ban trapos and dynasties, they are able to come in anyway,” Leody stated.

Other presidential bets on political dynasties

Contrary to Leody’s earlier arguments, fellow presidential aspirant and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao expressed support for political dynasties and mentioned that the people are free to vote as they wish. 

“I’m okay with [banning] political dynasties… but remember we are a democracy. People vote for those who get to sit in office. They are not appointed. It would be unfair to families who are giving honest service and making changes… Not everybody steals from the government,” Pacquiao said, not mentioning that he also has relatives gunning for positions in the coming May election.

However, this statement was opposed by lawyer and doctor Jose Montemayor Jr., who countered that political dynasties in the Philippines are illegal by nature of the law.

“We would like to remind Senator Pacquiao, with all due respect, that political dynasties are not allowed as provided by law. Whatever the reason, the law says that the state prohibits political dynasties,” Dr. Montemayor stated.

“We should be doing something about thick and fat dynasties, instead of defending them,” he added.

Faisal Mangondato also asserted his disagreement against Pacquiao, pressing that political dynasties are the reason behind the domination of many affluent families in the government.

“That cannot be, because [political dynasties] are the [reason] why politics is being dominated by rich families,” he said.

Pacquiao refuted their statements, saying that banning political dynasties goes against the Constitution.

“The Constitution says each one has the right to run in an election. So if you stop them from running, you are preventing them from exercising their right,” the retired boxer stressed. 

The party system and turncoatism

Another issue that was tackled during the debate was the party system and the presence of ‘political butterflies,’ or politicians switching from one partylist to another.

Vice President Leni Robredo stated that parties are only used as a form of convenience for many politicians, which is why turncoatism is prevalent.

She also urged the need for a law that can strengthen political parties in order to put a stop to turncoatism, as well as the possible need to return to the two-party system.

“As long as we allow turncoatism, we cannot expect to strengthen our political parties. We need a law to strengthen our political parties and force politicians to join parties because of the principles of the party,” the vice president said.

“It may also be about time we revisit the two-party system as another solution to turncoatism,” she added.

De Guzman supported Robredo’s response, saying that establishing a law against political butterflies can help fight politicians and parties that only support ‘capitalists, big businesses, and elitists’ instead of marginalized communities.

“Most politicians and parties only have the interest to support capitalists, big businesses, and elitists, overshadowing other partylists that are for the Filipino people. A partylist needs to have proper guidelines and a clear platform in order to avoid conflict,” Leody quoted.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, who is notorious for jumping from one party to another for the past 24 years of his political career, said that it is finally time for a major political reform in the entire country.

He proposed the return of the two-party system, the election of the president and vice president on one ticket, and the complete overhaul of the party system in the Philippines.

“Are they (party-list systems) really representing the marginalized? Are they really representing the intent of the law? I think we need to pass another law, through Congress or a people’s initiative, for a change in our political system. It’s high time,” mayor Isko said.

Edited by Monica Chloe Condrillon