Press Release
March 1, 2013


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said that to achieve gender equality in the coming May elections, 6 out of 12 senators should be female; and that in 2016, the country should have a female president, to correct 15 years of male presidents.

Santiago made the statement at the 5th Filipino Entrepreneurship Summit attended by some 3,000 women yesterday (March 1) at the World Trade Center, Pasay City. The conference began the celebration of March as International Women's Month.

Santiago, an international law expert, said that the United Nations has declared certain Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to promote gender equality and to empower women by 2015.

Santiago said that gender equality dictates that government positions should be divided equally between men and women.

She urged her audience to vote for "at least six qualified female candidates, so that eventually we should have at any given time 12 male and 12 female senators."

The senator pointed out that according to the National Statistical Coordination Board, in the last 2010 elections, only 21.4 percent of those elected were women.

"The deadline for gender equality in public positions is 2015. We will be unable to meet this deadline," she said.

Santiago added that while the Philippines has had 15 presidents, only two have been women.

"Following the logic of numbers, the Filipinos should elect a woman president in 2016, so that we can start closing the gender gap," she said, adding that she is disqualified, because she expects to be called soon to the Netherlands as judge of the International Criminal Court.

The senator recommended a quota system for women in public service, and added that a quota system is already in place in countries such as South Africa, India, Finland, Argentina, and France.

On another hot topic, Santiago called the Philippines as the "world capital of political dynasties," with 178 active dynasties.

Santiago said that voters should shun members of political dynasties, whom she called "stationary bandits," "gluttons for power and privilege," "the equivalent of Mafia crime families," and "monopolies and combinations in restraint of opportunities for others."

"Some dynasties have ruled for 8 years, some for 20 years, and some for the incredible period of 30 years. They have carved out a monopoly for themselves, as if only their families are qualified for public office. Some are even running for the Senate," she said.

A constitutional law expert, Santiago said that while the Constitution prohibits political dynasties, Congress has failed to pass the implementing law.

"The Constitution is written in stone. And yet Congress deliberately and willfully refuses to pass a law. Each member of Congress took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Why are we rewarding instead of punishing them?" she asked.

The senator is the author of Senate Bill No. 2649, which prohibits relatives within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity from holding office in the same province.

On the national level, the Santiago bill also prohibits such relatives from holding office, immediately after the end of the term of the elected public official belonging to the same clan.

Santiago said that in the Senate, 80 percent are members of dynasties, while in the House of Representatives, 70 percent belong to such dynasties.

"The Philippines has 80 provinces, but 94 percent, meaning 73 provinces, have political dynasties," she said.

She challenged her 3,000 member audience to prove that there is a women's vote and that there is an anti-dynasty vote, although these could be meritorious exceptions.

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