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EDITORIAL - The party-list system has become nonsense

The party-list law or RA 7941 is perhaps one of the most abused and misrepresented laws ever enacted. Swinging into effect in 1995, it mandates the state to provide for the election of party-list representatives made up of Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties. The law should be repealed and the party-list system abolished. And here is why.

In the latest SALN or statement of assets, liabilities and net worth submissions of members of the House of Representatives, guess who emerged as the richest congressman? Way, way up in the list is party-list Rep. Michael Romero of One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals or 1-Pacman. His net worth? Only a cool P7 billion. And he calls himself marginalized.

Romero is the son of business tycoon Reghis Romero II and amassed his fortune from a massive port operation. In 2016, Romero was listed as the 49th richest Filipino by Forbes Magazine. This party-list representative from "marginalized patriotic nationals" is twice as filthy rich as the richest senator, Cynthia Villar, who to her credit never pretends to be anywhere near being marginalized.

All but six of the 294 members of the House of Representatives are millionaires. And while these six are in fact also party-list representatives and could be truly from the ranks of the marginalized, guess who the "poorest" of the millionaires are? If you answered party-list representatives, you are absolutely right. Either the marginalized have now become millionaires, or millionaires simply love to play marginalized.

In any case, the term marginalized is no longer credible in the context of its use to qualify for a seat in the Philippine House of Representatives. To make matters worse, it is not only when measured by wealth does the term marginalized lose all sense of context and credibility. It is also in the sectoral representation that the party-list law is getting corrupted and raped.

In the case of Romero, for instance, just who the heck are the "patriotic marginalized nationals" that he claims to represent. Except for Romero, do they even have a face? And in the last election, there was a party-list organization representing Manila teachers. The party-list system is supposed to be national in scope, so why the heck were people in, say, Kananga in Leyte wooed to vote for Manila teachers? The party-list system has become nonsense. It should be abolished.

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