Day: February 12, 2018

The party-list system is utterly absurd, a mockery of democracy

First of 2 parts

IF there’s any provision in our Constitution that indisputably has to be deleted, it is that which called for 20 percent of the House of Representatives seats to be given to so-called “party-list representatives,” supposedly to represent the country’s marginalized sector.

Unlike the usual congressmen who are elected by voters registered in a political district, party-list representatives are elected by any voter anywhere in the country, who elect not the individual but the party-list, which then designates him as its representative.

Cory Aquino in 1987 pushed for such a system, partly to crush the two-party system she hated. But the system has proven to be so utterly absurd, a scandalous mockery of our democracy. And we taxpayers shoulder the party-list representatives’ and their staff’s salaries as well as expenses in the amount of about P2 billion per year.

Instead of powerless sectors—“labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors” as the Constitution put it—it has only given political clout to multi- millionaires, even two billionaires, so they could defend or expand their business interests. It has also given additional seats in Congress to provincial or regional political clans, for them to increase their political clout.

Most ironically, the party-list system has put cadres of the Communist Party in the House of Representatives giving them additional resources, especially finances—raised from our taxes—to advance their agenda to violently overthrow our democracy.

Mikee and Mike: Left, 1-Pacman representative “billionaire” ‘Mikee’ Romero in a polo competition in Thailand. Right, religious leader ‘Bro.’ Mike Velarde’s campaign poster calling on his faithful to vote for his party-list.

The communist atheists are colleagues in Congress of two bible-quoting religious party-list representatives.

The Constitution’s Article VI, Section 5 (2) categorically excludes the “religious sector” from having a party-list representative. Yet “Brother” MikeVelarde who heads the huge born-again Christian group El Shaddai set up his Buhay party-list (Buhay Hayaan Yumabong) in 2001 and since 2004 has had two to three representatives in Congress. Buhay’s incumbent representatives are the preacher’s son Michael Velarde, Jr. and former Manila mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza.  Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns