The first time it was mooted that Rep. Paolo Duterte, the President’s son, could succeed former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the next  Speaker of the House of Representatives, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would have to resign, if anything like that happened.  Some people saw that as a cheaper and less complicated way of effecting regime change than anything imagined by those who would like to see Duterte ousted.

But as not enough congressmen seemed ready to rethink their announced support for Rep. Martin Romualdez or Rep. Lord Velasco in favor of the controversial Davao neophyte, Malacanang began to suggest that the President’s idea of resigning “if and when,” could be just one of his infamous jokes.

Apparently, the President’s daughter Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio does not share her brother’s sense of entitlement  and has suggested another congressman as a compromise candidate for the Speakership. Not enough may have heard of Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao’s 3rd district, but he is  now on his third term, and has chaired  the two most important House committees—-ways and means and appropriations.

He is not a neophyte and, like the bananas we export to Japan, he is a native of Davao. That is  the thing that matters. The apparent consensus in Congress seems to be that if our congressional leaders cannot come from  Mindanao,  they should at least be sponsored by the ruling dynasty in Mindanao. Thus, if neither Paolo Duterte nor Ungab makes it, Mayor Sara and her regional Hugpong should make it clear that without their support, Martin Romualdez, Lord Velasco or whoever becomes Speaker would not have made it.

Yet whoever becomes the Speaker will not be as important as what he will do as Speaker.  The constitutional and political system is broken, can he do anything, or will he try to do anything, to fix it? Or will he be simply a Palace sycophant, unable and unwilling to think for himself, and kowtowing to  the President rather than serving the Filipino people or Congress?

In the last May elections, we saw the rise and fall of a number of political dynasties. Erap Estrada’s 50-year-old dynasty got extinguished, while so many others got rewired. In Davao, DU30’s three children all got elected, even though their other candidates lost.

In Cavite, Sen. Bong Revilla got back to the Senate after being incarcerated, while his wife Lani became mayor of Bacoor and his brother Strike went back to the House.

In Quezon, Congressman Danny Suarez became the governor while his wife Aleta and their two children landed in Congress and another son ended on the provincial board.

In Isabela,  Congressman Rudito Albano became governor while his wife Mylene ended as a congresswoman in Davao and his wheelchair-borne patriarch won a partylist seat.

In Taguig, Pia Cayetano reclaimed her Senate seat while her brother Alan Peter and his wife Lani took the city’s two congressional seats and another brother Lino, the movie director, became city mayor.

In Cebu, the erstwhile endangered Garcia political clan regained its footing,while the Osmena family was effectively wiped out.

DU30 said Filipino voters love political dynasties, but the Constitution bans them.  This ban is undefined, and Congress has failed to enact the implementing law, so it is routinely ignored and violated. But given what happened last May, the next Speaker and all our dynastic politicians should probably now take the lead in putting some teeth into this toothless constitutional ban so that by the next election in 2022, we won’t have entire families trying to occupy all elective positions!

The next Speaker and all our congressmen should be independent and courageous enough to insist on restoring the integrity of our democratic and republican system, based on the rule of law and separation of powers between and among the three co-equal, coordinate and inter-dependent branches of government. They should be prepared to bulldoze the sprawling pork mountain that has made Congress the equivalent of uncontrolled corruption and plunder in a failed state. They should be prepared to imitate our Lord when he said, “I have come to serve, not to be served,” and to accept all its consequences.