MANILA, Philippines – Various sectors scored the Supreme Court for allowing non-marginalized sectors to participate in partylist elections, saying it opened the floodgates for the powerful, privileged and slew of bogus groups to participate in the partylist polls.
“The Supreme Court has legitimized the domination of the rich and powerful, the political dynasties, and the various special interest groups of the elite. The marginalized sectors will continuously be eased out,” said Fr. Joe Dizon, convenor of the poll watchdog group “Kontra Daya” said on Monday.
“Under these SC guidelines, the Aquinos, Arroyos, Cojuangcos and Ampatuans can all field partylist groups,” Dizon said.
Since last year, Kontra Daya has been waging a battle before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cleanse the partylist system of questionable groups who represent the rich and powerful.
The Comelec has disqualified about 54 partylist groups, including “Ang Galing Pinoy” of Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo and Bantay Partylist of fugitive Jovito Palparan.
But with the high court’s ruling, 41 barred partylist groups can participate in the May 2013 polls.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and election law expert Romulo Macalintal also shared the same sentiment.
“It is our respectful view that it is not faithful to the social justice spirit of giving more chances to the poor and underprivileged in an already flawed n uneven electoral arena and process,” NUPL’s Edre Olalia said in a text message.
“It must be emphasized that the concept of Philippine party-list system must be viewed under the lens of social justice,” Macalintal said.
Quoting former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, Macalintal said “the party-list system is a social justice tool designed not only to give more law to the great masses of our people who have less in life, but also to enable them to become veritable lawmakers themselves, empowered to participate directly in the enactment of laws designed to benefit them…”
“Thus, allowing all individuals and groups, including those which now dominate district elections, to have the same opportunity to participate in party-list elections would desecrate this lofty objective and mongrelize the social justice mechanism into an atrocious veneer for traditional politics.”
Macalintal said the solution is to strictly implement screening of partylist groups to determine which truly represents the marginalized.
For its part, the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said that it was the Aquino government, the Comelec and the Supreme Court who were all to blame for the destruction of the partylist system.
“It seems that the ruling classes- through the Supreme Court, the Comelec and the Aquino regime- have now taken back whatever minor political concession they have given the poor over the past years. The message is clear. Political power, including the partylist system, will remain firmly in the hands of the elite,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The Aquino government encouraged and tolerated its non-marginalized political allies like Akbayan, Abante Retirees and Black and White Movement to abuse the partylist system. The Comelec retained many questionable groups. Now comes the Supreme Court legitimizing the participation of the rich and powerful. Truly, the electoral system has again showed its patent bias for the ruling elite while at the same time further marginalizing the already marginalized,” Reyes added.