Party-list
DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2019 - 12:00am

As I was preparing my codigo for today’s election, I was stumped on what group to choose for party-list. For one thing, I think the party-list system should be removed. It lost its relevance because it has been blatantly abused.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a member of the body that drafted the current Constitution, was disappointed by how the party-list system turned out. In a column he wrote in 2012 he wanted it amended.

“I was asked what three provisions of the Constitution I would like to see amended. I gave two answers and one of them was for a serious reassessment of where the party-list system has brought us. I was not surprised when that answer received applause…

“The original inspiration for the introduction of this novelty into the Constitution was a fairly widespread desire to give the underprivileged sectors of society the capacity to represent themselves in the affairs of the nation. The idea was generally accepted as valid, but the problem was how to put it into a workable formula that could produce the desired result.

“Nevertheless, the Constitutional Commission went ahead to engraft it in the Constitution as an experiment. The experiment has been going on for 25 years now… Should we continue the experiment or end it?”

In August 2016, President Duterte publicly pushed for the abolition of the party-list system in a new Constitution. He was dismayed over how the rich and powerful politicians have made a mockery of the law by creating party-list groups that they could control.

The current Constitution called for 20 percent of the House of Representatives seats to be given to the country’s marginalized sector through the party-list system.  You would think of powerless sectors—labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other groups.

But lo and behold… the party-list system has only given more political clout to society’s rich and famous. As if they are not powerful enough, they get another platform to expand their business interests at taxpayers’ expense.

1PACMAN is a good example. Its nominee Michael Romero, son of construction magnate Reghis Romero II, is considered the richest lawmaker in the country with a net worth of P7 billion.

Those who voted for 1PACMAN probably thought they were voting for a group close to Manny Pacquiao. The pambansang kamao has nothing to do with it.

Believe it or not, 1-Pacman is supposed to be the acronym for: “One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals.” It is not clear what marginalized group Romero is representing. Maybe, because there are so few billionaires here, they are deemed marginalized. Ay ewan!

A group calling themselves Kontra Daya has flagged at least 35 would-be party-list representatives who do not belong to the marginalized sectors of society.

Kontra Daya’s research seems to show that the party-list groups have links to political dynasties or represent special business interests.

There is a prevalence of political dynasties in the party-list system. Many names are confusing… pretending to represent a sector the public may accept as deserving of additional congressional voice.

The Supreme Court contributed to muddling the intentions of the party-list system. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that nominees “must be Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and unrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, as the constitution intended to give genuine power to the people, not only by giving more law to those who have less in life, but more so by enabling them to become veritable lawmakers themselves.”

But in the same ruling, it pointed out that neither the 1987 Constitution nor R.A. 7941 prohibits major political parties from participating in the party-list election, but emphasized that they must do so by establishing or forming coalitions with sectoral organizations for electoral or political purposes.

Associate Justice Antonio Carpio further noted that “it is not necessary that the party-list organization’s nominee ‘wallow in poverty, destitution and infirmity’ as there is no financial status required by the law.” This effectively allowed anyone to be nominated by a party participating in the party-list election.

However, by a vote of eight to seven, the Supreme Court still decided to continue disallowing major political parties from participating in the party-list elections, directly or indirectly.

Since the party-list system is already part of our electoral process, we should be more discerning what group we are voting for. Ask around before going to the polling precinct. Only intelligent voting will beat those abusing the system at their own game.

Unfortunately, the abusers will prevail. They know how to use the system well and Filipino voters don’t really care.

The only real solution is to scrap the system if and when we amend the Constitution. We should at least save the cost of maintaining all those party-list representatives who are far from being marginalized members of society.

Building officials

I received an e-mail from Engr. Servando C. Aromin reacting to a column on building officials, structural defects and the building code.

“With regards to your article, may I inform Mr. Padilla that the National Structural Code of the Philippines was updated on 2015 which our Structural Engineers currently comply. The NSCP 1977 which he cited is obsolete and was revised many times already.”

I was wondering about that. I remember being told that the new code makes even taller buildings safer than lower buildings built under the old code. Now I am worried that the building officials did not even know the code they are supposed to implement had been updated.

For now, it is election time... let us make sure we vote for the right people who honestly want to serve the public. Don’t even consider those with a whiff of corruption. And make sure your vote will protect the country’s democratic system of checks and balances.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter@boochanco

ELECTION PARTY-LIST
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