The way the Philippine Party List System has worked since it was created by the 1987 Constitution to assure “proportional representation” in the House of Representatives, and the Party List Act (Republic Act 7941) passed in 1994, has provoked even the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to consider asking Congress to amend the law. But it is unlikely that that body will do so — at least not towards making it truly serve the voiceless and marginalized sectors of Philippine society.
ORGIES OF overspending, vote-buying, intimidation and outright coercion, and exercises through which a few political families have monopolized practically every elective office from city councilor to President, Philippine elections are already a mockery of representative democracy. The latest Supreme Court decision declaring the party list system open to established political parties will make them even worse travesties.
By a vote of 10 to two, the justices overturned the Court’s own declaration 12 years ago that only marginalized and underrepresented sectors can participate in party list elections, and instead allowed other political parties and groups to run for seats in the House of Representatives.
Commission on Elections Chair Jose Melo says that the Comelec is having a hard time accrediting party list groups that truly represent marginalized sectors, and in recognizing nominees qualified to represent them because Philippine laws don’t define “marginalized.” But he himself seems to know — if we’re to go by his statement that limiting representation via the party list system to marginalized sectors “isn’t wise.”
“For example, here is a group of tricycle drivers. What if their nominee is a tricycle driver and he was not able to finish school. How can he represent the interest of tricycle drivers? They should have somebody who is educated to speak for them,” Melo was quoted as saying during a recent Comelec press conference.