Lawmaker files bill seeking to bar senators, Cabinet men from joining party-listBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines — A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday pushed for a proposed measure seeking to bar incumbent senators and officials of Cabinet level from the party-list system which should represent the truly marginalized and underrepresented sectors.
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said he continues to urge fellow legislators to pass House Bill 4464, which was filed even before the Commission on Elections began cleaning up the party-list system.
“With this bill anyone who is a present senator, including government officials of cabinet level as nominees will be disqualified to run in the party list system,” he said, adding if the nominee’s income will also be subject to scrutiny.
“If the income of a nominee is more than the annual income of a district congressman then he should also be disqualified,” he said.
The bill seeks to make this happen by amending the Party-list System Act, providing eligibility requirements, and placing mechanisms which will democratize the party-list system.
This bill proposes the following points:
1. The intent and purpose of the Constitution to reserve twenty (20) percent of the House of Representatives for the marginalized sectors be strictly complied with. The party-list system must be reserved exclusively for the marginalized and under-represented sectors of society by adopting certain specific measures to implement the intent of both RA 7941 and the Constitution as defined in the Supreme Court’s decisions in Bayan Muna vs. COMELEC et al. (G.R. No.147613, June 26, 2001), and Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC et al. (G.R. No.147589, June 26, 2001) and recently reiterated in the 2010 case of Bayan Muna vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 179295) also known as Banat vs. Comelec. Additional criteria for nominees should be also enforced for a stricter compliance with the intent of the Constitution regarding Party-List representation.
2. The appropriate decision-making body of a party-list group be given the power to recall its representatives for violation of any provision of the party-list’s governing charter.
3. The nomination of party-list representatives be done by the highest policy-making body of the party-list group. This will enable its membership to democratically choose their nominees.
And with the Comelec’s ongoing disqualification of unfit party-list groups, Colmenares said he remains hopeful that the party-list system would soon be rid of “fake party-lists.”
He lambasted that some party-list nominees did not truly represent the marginalized “but are coming from powerful economic and political interests.”
He called the inclusion of such nominees as “disastrous because…it practically obliterated the constitutional intent of reserving 20 percent of the seats in Congress for the party-list system by allowing those who form part of the 80% to also invade the constitutionally secured seats of the already underrepresented.”
Unfit party-list groups granted accreditation by the Comelec robbed the poor of its voice and venue for expression, Colmenares added.