Party-list system abuse continues
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2019 - 12:00am

I’ve written previously that I think there are changes that are overdue in our current Constitution. Again, it’s not that I don’t think the Constitution is doing its job anymore. It’s still extremely relevant to our times and, in fact, still protects many of our rights. However, many things have changed and it’s important for us to be able to evolve and grow as well. If we don’t, we’ll be beholden to ideals that were relevant over 30 years ago and may no longer be relevant today.

And that’s not saying anything about those who made revisions to the Constitution way back then. Even in the United States there are changes that should be made to their Constitution to reflect the way of life today. After all, we can’t expect our leaders of decades past to be able to have predicted the way the world would be today. Times change, people change, technology changes, and every now and then we have to take stock of society and adjust the laws accordingly.

But, to be clear, I am not making light of the Constitution. I don’t want to say that whenever we think we need to make amendments we should with a snap of our hands. That’s not what I mean. Obviously, any revisions made should be done with careful thought and reverence as just changing things whenever they want to is not something our leaders should grow accustomed to. I don’t believe they are responsible for that – this should happen only when absolutely necessary and only by Constitutional Convention and not Constitutional Assembly, as our politicians would like.

Any changes to the Constitution will affect us all, so having an equal voice in that process is the only way that it should be done to keep it fair. Through a Constitutional Convention, duly elected delegates of the people come together to do the job. This is a much better job than having the current crop of politicians convene to do it. After all, we’ve all said that they will be looking out for their own interests and that will already taint the process.

Honestly, term limits and abuse of power are some of the main concerns when it comes to Constitutional amendments. We can’t be sure these won’t be included in any revisions made and they should absolutely not be included. Honestly, these fears are enough to make most of our citizens not want to explore changes at all. And while that is completely understandable it does make us pause to make the actual changes that are necessary and important.

One of the things that must to be revised and/or reframed as soon as possible is the party-list system. I’ve mentioned this many times before because I believe that this is no longer serving the people the way it was intended to. In fact, I’ve felt this way for many elections now; it has just become far more blatant over the years.

The party-list system was created to ensure that marginalized sectors have a voice in Congress. It was a way to give people who would have never been truly represented, representation. In this way, their needs would be heard. After all, it’s understandable that our crop of politicians may not truly understand the plight of marginalized sectors like the youth or fisherman or similar groups. Through the party-list system these sectors are allowed to have their voices heard.

Unfortunately that is no longer the case today. The party-list system continues to be abused by people just wanting power. It has mutated as a way for people to get into a position of power without being voted in by the people. In fact, politicians utilize the system to get their allies into power without a care for the marginalized groups they represent. We see it more and more everyday. What does a rich businessman living a comfortable cushy life in the Philippines know about the plight of overseas workers? How does a much older man (way past the age limit) truly represent a group dedicated to the youth?

These are just some examples – of many – of how the party-list system is continuously being perverted. It’s high time we make changes that allow this system to be properly utilized and protected or abolished all together.

*      *      *

Once again, it’s dengue season. Well, to be frank, it always seems to be dengue season in the Philippines. But this is even truer during rainy season when the mosquitoes with the dengue bite come out in full force. The Department of Health (DOH) has already issued warnings of a dengue outbreak and this is something that should scare and concern as all as it is the highest incidence in over five years with 10 regions now facing an epidemic.

Looking back, news like this is what spurned parents to get their children vaccinated against dengue back when the vaccine was not truly ready yet. We all still remember the Dengvaxia problem. I read somewhere that they were planning on making this vaccine available once again. I hope that people don’t let fear direct them into making the same mistake. The vaccine is not ready and should not be administered until it is truly safe.

In the meantime, we should continue to be vigilant and safeguard our homes and our loved ones against potential mosquito bites. Keep the repellents on, burn katol around the house as needed, wear long sleeves and pants outside, avoid mosquito infested areas, keep dirty water from accumulating, and keep our surroundings as clean as possible. These are the only real steps we can take against infection.

DENGUE PARTY-LIST SYSTEM
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