Alvarez: Fate of party-list system up to people
Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Monday said the fate of the party-list system should be left to the people who voted for their representatives in Congress.
In an interview over dzMM radio, Alvarez said Congress would only act on the decision of the people they represent about the abolition of the party-list system, a proportional representation of marginalized and underrepresented sectors in Congress.
“Actually madami-dami na yung mga party-list ngayon na nasa Kongreso. Sa akin lamang, kung yun naman ang gugustuhin ng taong bayan ay siguro sundin natin yung tinig ng sambayanan dahil sa dulo ang bayan din ang magdedesisyon kung papaboran nila ang panukala ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte,” Alvarez said.
(Actually, there are many party-lists at present in the Congress. I think that if the people want it, let us hear their voice because in the end, the people will decide if they will favor President Duterte’s proposal.)
Alvarez made the statement after Duterte called for the abolition of the party-list system in the Constitution when Congress convenes to propose amendments to the Charter.
Duterte called for the abolition of the party-list system because the proportional system of representation of marginalized and underrepresented sectors was abused by political clans and wealthy personalities using the party-list as a backdoor to Congress.
“With a new Constitution, I will insist: no party-list,” Duterte said.
Duterte said the party-list system should be abolished in the new Constitution that would pave the way for a shift from a unitary to a federal form of government. The President said he preferred a Constitutional Assembly (Con-Ass) mode of amending the Charter, where Congress would convene to propose amendments, instead of the more expensive Constitutional Convention (Con-Con), whereby the delegates who would amend the charter are elected.
“Dahil nga po sa pag amyenda po, pagrebisa ng ating saligang batas ay sa dulo naman nito ang taong bayan ang maghuhusga… So pakinggan natin ang boses ng sambayanan (Because in the amendment and revision of the Constitution, the people will decide… So let’s us hear the voice of the people),” Alvarez said.
According to Republic Act 7941 or the party-list law, party-list representatives should have experience of helping the marginalized sectors such as labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals.
Party-list groups may also represent a regional group or a particular ideology or advocacy.
But through the years, the wealthy politicians and members of political clans have used the party-list system to enter Congress even though they are not members of the marginalized sectors.
According to the law, party-list groups consist of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions “which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies (to) contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole.”
The Supreme Court in its recent decision later ruled that even the wealthy may represent the marginalized as long as it is their “principal advocacy” to push for the “special interest and concerns of the sector.” Majority of the members of sectoral party-list groups should also belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors represented.
Instead of abolishing the party-list system, party-list lawmakers urged the President not to weed them out of Congress but call for an amendment of the party-list law to fix the system of proportional representation. RAM/rga
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