THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) should review the country’s party-list system, which critics say has been dominated by big business and political clans.
The system should be revamped and aligned with the intent of constitutional framers, which is sectoral representation, said Michael Henry LI. Yusingco, a senior research fellow at the Ateneo de Manila University Policy Center.
“Domination by political dynasties of the partly-list system is another evidence of the rottenness of our political system,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “I understand that the Comelec is limited by the guidelines set forth by the party-list law and prevailing jurisprudence, but they cannot ignore the fact that the constitutional purpose of the party-list system is no longer being met.”
Seven of 10 party-list groups at the House of Representatives have been hijacked by big businesses and political clans, election watchdog Kontra Daya said last week, citing a study that analyzed 177 party-list groups this year.
These parties represented vague advocacies, are connected to the government or military, included incumbent local officials and had candidates who have been charged in court, it said.
Kontra Daya did a similar study of the 2019 party-list elections, where half of the groups were flagged under these categories.
Under the Party-List System Act, elected officials from these groups must belong to “marginalized and underrepresented sectors. Party-list nominees account for a fifth of the House of Representatives.
“The law has to be reviewed and amended so that it serves the very purpose as to why it was included in the 1987 Constitution, which is to give political space to disadvantaged groups and make representation in politics more diverse and inclusive,” Jean Encinas-Franco, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.
Kontra Daya earlier asked Comelec to explain why questionable groups continue to dominate the party-list system.
“There must be electoral reform if we want to save the party-list system from being abused by these traditional and elitist politicians,” labor leader and presidential candidate Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman said last week.
“Reforming the party-list system should come from within the legislative bodies, especially from groups that actually come from marginalized sectors,” he added. — John Victor D. Ordoñez