Sotto, Drilon push party list law changes
MANILA, Philippines — Any move to abolish the party list system will be an uphill climb as the 61 party list representatives are not likely to vote to put themselves out of power, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Monday.
“Realistically, if we go by the con-ass (constituent assembly) route, we have over 60 party list [lawmakers] now, do you think they will agree to abolish themselves?” he told reporters in a Zoom interview.
“That is why I concur with the Senate President that we can achieve the objectives by amending the Party list System Act in order to align with the objectives of the Constitution,” Drilon said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said President Duterte had asked Congress leaders to remove the party list system by amending the 1987 Constitution. The President said he wanted this done in order to deal with six activist lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc who allegedly had ties with the communist rebellion.
But Sotto said it would be easier to reform the party list system by way of simple amendments to Republic Act No. 7941, or the Party list System Act, including a provision to bar any group advocating for the “overthrow” of government.
In contrast, a constitutional amendment to completely remove the party list system will require a three-fourths majority vote in the Senate and the House of Representatives on top of a plebiscite, according to the Senate leader.
Drilon said he agreed with Sotto that amending the party list law was more feasible.
“I must admit that the party list system has been bastardized today. If you read the Constitution, it is designed for the marginalized and the under-represented through the congressional districts,” he said.
“But in truth and in fact, if you look at the composition of the party list today, that objective has been lost. The intention of the party list is really open to question in the present system of election,” he added.
Drilon did not give a direct answer when asked to comment on Sotto’s proposal to add a provision banning any group that sought to topple the government.
“That’s part of the debate. What the Senate President is saying is that you don’t need to amend the Constitution to fix the problems caused by Congress in the implementation of the Party list System Act,” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, the leader of the Makabayan bloc, earlier said he shared Sotto’s desire to strengthen the party list system and to provide a clearer definition of sectors that should be represented by party list groups.
“That is in fact our advocacy also—to strengthen the [party list] law,” he said.
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