51 groups make party list cut; Bayan Muna wins but airs dismay
MANILA, Philippines — As it secured three House seats, Bayan Muna vowed on Wednesday night to push even harder in the next Congress to amend the party list law, especially as more than half of the 51 groups joining the House of Representatives in June are backed by politicians, allies of the Duterte administration and moneyed groups.
Incoming Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite told the Inquirer that the recent elections showed the necessity to amend the party list law as it had clearly veered away from its intention to provide the marginalized and underrepresented sectors a voice in Congress.
Bayan Muna has observed that the party list system, which was supposed to give representation to the “marginalized” sectors, has been “bastardized,” Gaite said.
“There is already an imbalance in representation, and now political dynasties are encroaching in the little space reserved for those in the margins. It’s a travesty,” Gaite said.
Of the 51 groups that won the 61 seats allotted for party list groups, 29 have nominees who are allies of the Duterte administration or former politicians, family members of government officials and moneyed or business groups.
Among them are: front-runner ACT-CIS, whose second representative is Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo’s sister-in-law Jocelyn; 1Pacman, headed by reelected Rep. Michael Romero, the richest lawmaker with a reported net worth of P7 billion; and Probinsyano Ako, led by outgoing Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Fariñas’ son Rudy Caesar.
Following a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) first distributed House seats to the groups that received more than 2 percent of the votes cast for party list groups. It then allocated the remaining seats to the other groups, in descending order.
As front-runners, ACT-CIS and Bayan Muna each got the maximum three seats. Two seats each were given to Ako Bicol, Cibac, Ang Probinsyano, 1Pacman, Marino and Probinsyano Ako, and one seat to each of the rest, including the controversial Duterte Youth.
Kabataan party list, which had been at the receiving end of Duterte Youth’s constant
Red-tagging—a campaign to link the group to communist rebels—managed to retain its House seat, being the 51st and last group to make it to the vote cutoff.
Duterte Youth was represented on Wednesday night by Ronald Cardema, who had sought to replace his wife, Ducielle Marie Suarez, as the group’s first nominee.
Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas earlier on Wednesday said that a resolution on the substitution bid was already being routed. Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon later said they were still studying the matter.
Gaite acknowledged that amending the party list law may be difficult given that Bayan Muna was in the minority.
“Will they make a law that will curtail, deprived them of their privileges? So there must also be public pressure to make certain reforms. What happened recently should serve as an eye-opener,” he said.
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