Challenges to party-list system: more filtering and less ambiguities in the law

By Genevieve Seguerra

Republic Act 7941 or the Party-list Act was enacted to “enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and under-represented” to be represented in the Congress. It was passed to heed the sentiments of Filipinos coming from marginalized sectors over the dominance of traditional political parties.

In the last four elections however, we have witnessed how party-list system has been robbed off of its true essence of increased representation. Many party-list nominees do not come from the sector they advocate. Some of these representatives are even from wealthy political families which are already over-represented.

Sectoral representatives are entitled to the same salaries and emoluments as regular district congressman. No wonder nominees, who claim to empower sectors they do not really represent, use the law for political ascendancy.

Cleaning the system

For May 2013 election, Comelec has come up with stricter application and purged questionable party-list groups.

Of the 289 party-list group applications, 124 have existing accreditation while 165 were new applicants. Comelec retained only 58 groups and accredited only 21 new applicants. This was the first time the poll body cancelled the application of groups with existing accreditation.

This resulted to a list of accredited groups which is relatively shorter than previous elections. Although 123 groups were listed in the ballot, only 71 are qualified to participate in the poll. The other 52 disqualified groups were able to secure status quo ante (SQA) order from the SC which compelled Comelec to include them in the official ballot.  Their votes, however, will not be considered in case the SC decides in favor of disqualification.

Another first in this year’s election was the decision of Comelec to raffle each group. Many groups put ‘A’ or ‘1’ at the beginning of their name to secure top spot in the ballot list. Instead of following the standard alphanumeric system, Comelec raffled 123 groups to determine their numbering.

  1. 1-CARE – 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy Inc
  2. ABS – Arts Business and Science Professionals
  3. PASANG MASDA – PasangMasda Nationwide Party
  4. OFW Family – OFW Family Club Inc
  5. MAGDALO – Magdaloparasa Pilipino
  6. AMS – Alyansang Media at Showbiz
  7. ABONO – Abono Party-list
  8. BAYANI – Bayani Party-list
  9. A TEACHER – Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment through Action, Cooperation, and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms
  10. PWD – Pilipinos with Disabilities
  11. 1-LAMBAT – IsangLapianngMangingisda at Bayan tungosaKaunlaran
  12. AAMA – Alliance of Advocates in Mining Advancement for National Progress
  13. BH – BagongHenerasyon
  14. SANLAKAS
  15. AKMA-PTM – AksyonMagsasaka-PartidoTinigngMasa
  16. KABATAAN – Kabataan Party-list
  17. AKB – Ako Bicol Political Party
  18. AANI – AngAgrikulturaNatinIsulong
  19. UNI-MAD – United Movement Against Drugs Foundation
  20. ALIM – Action League of Indigenous Masses
  21. ALAY BUHAY – Alay Buhay Community Development Foundation Incs
  22. AN WARAY – An Waray
  23. PBA – PuwersangBayaningAtleta
  24. FIRM 24-K – Firm-24K Association Inc
  25. TUCP – Trade Union Congress Party
  26. ANG LADLAD
  27. ADING – Advance Community Development in New Generation
  28. ABANTE RETIREES – Abante Retirees Party-list Organization
  29. 1-ABILIDAD
  30. KATRIBU – Katribu Indigenous Peoples Sectoral Party
  31. COCOFED – Philippine Coconut Producers’ Federation Inc
  32. ATING KOOP – AdhikaingTinataguyodngKooperatiba
  33. PISTON – Piston Land Transport Coalition Inc
  34. AGAP – Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines
  35. AGBIAG – AgbiagTimpuyog Ilocano Inc
  36. ALE – Association of Laborers and Employees
  37. ANG PROLIFE
  38. AVE – Alliance of Volunteer Educators Party-list
  39. BINHI – Binhi-Partidong mga Magsasakaparasa mga Magsasaka
  40. ATING GURO
  41. ARAL – Association of Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership
  42. ACT TEACHERS – Act Teachers Party-list
  43. BUTIL – Butil Farmers Party
  44. COOP NATCCO – Cooperative Natcco Network Party
  45. VFP – Veterans Freedom Party
  46. ACT-CIS – Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support Inc
  47. GABRIELA – Gabriela Women’s Party
  48. 1-AAMOVER – A Action Moral & Values Recovery Reform Philippines Inc
  49. AMIN – Anak Mindanao Party-list
  50. UMALAB KA – UgnayanngMaralita Laban saKahirapan
  51. ALYANSA NG OFW – Alyansang OFW Party-list
  52. ABAKADA – Abakada-Guro
  53. YACAP – You Against Corruption and Poverty
  54. ABROAD – Action Brotherhood for Active Dreamers Inc
  55. KAAKBAY – Katipunanng mga Anakng Bayan All Filipino Democratic Movement
  56. AMA – AagapaysaMatatanda
  57. AMOR SEAMAN – Association of Marine Officer & Ratings Inc
  58. ANAC-IP – Ang National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples Action Na
  59. ANGKLA – AngPartidong mga Pilipinong Marino Inc
  60. ATONG PAGLAUM – AtongPaglaumInc
  61. ABA – AlyansangBayanihanng mga Magsasaka, ManggagawangBukid, at Mangingisda
  62. AAMBIS-OWA – AngAsosasyon Sang MangungumaNgaBisaya-OwaMangungumaInc
  63. 1-AALALAY – IsangAlyansangAalalaysaPinoy
  64. ABANTE KA – AbanteKatutuboInc
  65. 1BAP – 1 Banat &Ahapo Party-list Coalition
  66. BANTAY – The True Marcos Loyalist for God, Country, and People
  67. 1 BRO-PGBI – 1-Bro Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc
  68. AFPSEGCO – Alliance for Philippine Security Guards Cooperative
  69. A-IPRA – Agapayng Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Alliance
  70. BAYAN MUNA
  71. MTM PHILS – MamamayantungosaMaunladnaPilipinas
  72. ANG KASANGGA – KasanggasaKaunlaranInc
  73. LPGMA – LPG Marketers Association Inc
  74. ANG MINERO – Sectoral Party of AngMinero
  75. AA KASOSYO – Kasosyo Producer
  76. 1 ANG PAMILYA – UnaangPamilya Party-list
  77. 1st KABAGIS
  78. 1-UTAK – 1-United Transport Koalisyon
  79. DIWA – Democratic Independent Workers Association Inc
  80. ARC – Alliance for Rural Concerns
  81. CIBAC – Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption
  82. AGILA – AgilangKatutubong Pilipino Inc
  83. 1GANAP/GUARDIANS – 1 Guardians Nationalist Philippines Inc
  84. AGHAM – Alyansang mga GrupongHaligingAgham at TeknolohiyaparasaMamamayanInc
  85. MIGRANTE – MigranteSectoral Party of Overseas Filipinos and their Families
  86. AWAT Mindanao – Anti-War Anti-Terror Mindanao
  87. ALLUMAD – AlyansaLumad Mindanao Inc
  88. ATM – AbanteTribungMakabansa
  89. PACYAW – Pilipino Association for Country-Urban Poor Youth Advancement and Welfare
  90. KLBP – KababaihangLingkodng Bayan saPilipinas
  91. AASENSO – AtingAgapaySentrongSamahanng mga ObreroInc
  92. AG – AngGalingPinoy
  93. ALAGAD
  94. A BLESSED – Blessed Federation of Farmers and Fishermen International Inc
  95. AMA – AngMata’yAlagaan
  96. AKAPBATA Inc – AkapbataSectoral Organization for Children Inc
  97. SMART – Social Movement for Active Reform and Transparency
  98. ABP – Alliance of Bicolnon Party
  99. ANAD – Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy
  100. ADA – Agrarian Development Association
  101. ARARO – Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction Inc
  102. KAP – KaagapayngNagkakaisangAgilangPilipinongMagsasaka
  103. APEC – Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives
  104. AKBAYAN – Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party
  105. 1-SAGIP – Social Amelioration & Genuine Intervention on Poverty
  106. 1JAMG – 1 Joint Alliance of Marginalized Group Inc
  107. AKO BAHAY – Adhikain at KilusanngOrdinaryong Tao parasaLupa, Pabahay, Hanapbuhay, at Kaunlaran
  108. ADAM – Adhikainng mga DakilangAnakMaharlika
  109. AKO – AkoAyokosaBawalnaDroga
  110. ABAMIN – Abante Mindanao
  111. APPEND – Append Inc
  112. AGRI – Agri-Agra naRepormaparasaMagsasakangPilipinas Movement
  113. AT – AangatTayo
  114. ANG NARS
  115. GREENFORCE – Green Force for the Environment Sons and Daughters of Mother Earth
  116. SENIOR CITIZENS – Coalition of Association of Senior Citizens in the Philippines
  117. ALIF – Ang Laban ngIndigenong Filipino
  118. KALINGA
  119. ANAKPAWIS
  120. 1-PABAHAY – IsangPangarapngBahaysaBagongBuhayngMaralitangKababayanInc
  121. KAKUSA – Kapatiranng mga NakulongnaWalang-sala
  122. BUHAY – BuhayHayaangYumabong
  123. ABANG LINGKOD – AbangLingkod Party-list

*list taken from Philippine Online Chronicles: http://www.thepoc.net/breaking-news/elections-2013/17625-comelec-raffles-ballot-spots-to-partylist-list-included.html

Broad, vague and weak

Despite effort to sift through bogus applications, poll watchdog group Kontra Daya observed some questionable groups were still able enter the list. These groups were able to circumvent the law because of loopholes in the law itself.

For example, Section 9 states that party-list nominees should be a member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent. However, it does not necessitate that the nominee should come from the sector it represents.

As a result, several party-list groups such as Aambis Owa, ABAMIN, Abono, Agbiag, AGAP, Ang Kasangga, ALE, A-TEACHER, BH, Buhay, DIWA, 1 Ang Pamilya, YACAP, ABS, and AA Kasosyo  were included in the list for May 2013 election even if their list of nominees includes politicians and wealthy business owners.

Another ambiguity is stated in Section 5. It broadly defines sectors which include “labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals” can apply. The inclusion of “professional” allowed even those who are not marginalized and under-represented to vie for representation in the Congress.

There are also outright violations of the law. Section 8 clearly states that the list shall not include any candidate who has lost his or her bid for an elective office in the immediately preceding election. Ang Kasangga nominee Gwendolyn Pimentel was a senatorial candidate who ran and lost in May 2010 election.

There is also the case of Bagong Henerasyon (BH) partylist. Bernadette Herrera-Dy was a councilor in Quezon City from 2001 until in 2009 when BH, whose founder and representative was also Herrera-Dy, applied for accreditation. BH therefore is government funded because its services and programs came from a representative who was then an incumbent councilor.

These issues shows the need for greater effort to clean the party-list system as it has been wallowed in the mud too deeply for the past elections. Effort to return its original purpose of increased representation among the masses should be observed in both the government and the electorate body.

On its part, the government do electoral reforms to clear ambiguities in the law, especially in the issue of who should represent as oppose to who could represent. In addition, the government should try not to affiliate or align with party-list groups as true representation of perceived Malacanang-backed groups are ethically questioned.

As voters, we should remember that genuine party-list groups echo the sentiment of Filipinos coming from marginalized and under-represented sectors. The law was passed to provide voice to small people suffering because social issues like poverty, unemployment, and poor healthcare remain widely unresolved.

The party-list system faces many challenges but it is no excuse not to make an intelligent vote. Do not be part of the problem. Know the sector you belong and the challenges it faces because depending on the vote you make, the party-list system can either bind you more or bind you less to social ills.

Sources:

http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno7941.htm#.UUDP0dZ_F3Y

Kontra Daya website: http://kontradaya.org/

Philippine Online Chronicles: http://www.thepoc.net/breaking-news/elections-2013/17625-comelec-raffles-ballot-spots-to-partylist-list-included.html

2 thoughts on “Challenges to party-list system: more filtering and less ambiguities in the law

  1. good job, a timely topic, an eye opener on our current partylist group, hope that they can filter it more and inform the people the profile of each partylist and its representatives if they really represents the marginalized people.

  2. Pingback: Democracy and our Votes (Pagbabalik Tanaw at Panawagan) AKO ang Simula | Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Empowerment

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