The recent decision of the Supreme Court to abandon its ruling that restricted the party-list system to marginalized and underrepresented sectors “reflects the true intent” of the 1987 Constitution, former Commission on Elections Chair Christian Monsod said Sunday.
Monsod, a member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the Constitution and principal proponent of its party-list system provision, downplayed critics’ assertions that the Supreme Court’s setting of parameters for the party-list system—allowing even the national political parties and nonsectoral groups to participate in the party-list elections—had “bastardized” the Party-List System Law and could render the marginalized sectors even more marginalized.
“The party-list system is not synonymous with sectoral representation. It is not exclusive to a particular sector,” Monsod said in a statement.
It will be recalled that the Supreme Court majority opinion, penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, quoted Monsod in explaining that the party-list system was not limited to particular sectors and that sectors need not be “marginalized and underrepresented.”
40 groups reinstated
As a result of the new ruling, around 40 party-list groups disqualified by the Comelec under the old guidelines crafted by the court in the 2001 Ang Bagong Bayani case were reinstated. The court came up with parameters to serve as Comelec guidelines for screening party-list groups.
Monsod, a lawyer, allayed fears the new parameters would revive and breed political dynasties and moneyed individuals that would gobble up the smaller groups and dominate the seats in Congress. He affirmed that the court’s ruling gets around the mechanics of sectoral representation, while making sure that those who really have a national constituency or sectoral constituency will get a chance to have a seat in Congress.
Monsod said the party-list system was composed of three different groups: National parties or organizations; regional parties or organizations; and sectoral parties or organizations.
National and regional parties or organizations are different from sectoral parties or organizations, he pointed out. National and regional parties or organizations need not be organized along sectoral lines and need not represent a particular sector.
Monsod said Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List Law of 1995 does not define or require the sectors, organizations or parties to be “marginalized and underrepresented.”
He said major political parties cannot participate in the party-list election since they neither lack “well-defined political constituencies” nor represent “marginalized and underrepresented” sectors.
Monsod added that RA 7941 does not require national and regional parties or organizations to represent the “marginalized and underrepresented” sectors.
“To require all national and regional parties under the party-list system to represent the ‘marginalized and underrepresented’ is to deprive and exclude, by judicial fiat, ideology-based and cause-oriented parties from the party-list system,” he said.
Under the party-list system, Monsod said an ideology-based or cause-oriented political party was clearly different from a sectoral party. He said a political party need not be organized as a sectoral party and need not represent any particular sector.
It is sufficient that the political party consists of citizens who advocate the same ideology or platform or the same governance principles and policies, regardless of their economic status as citizens, he added.