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-CARE – 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy Inc
- ABS – Arts Business and Science Professionals
- PASANG MASDA – PasangMasda Nationwide Party
- OFW Family – OFW Family Club Inc
- MAGDALO – Magdaloparasa Pilipino
- AMS – Alyansang Media at Showbiz
- ABONO – Abono Party-list
- BAYANI – Bayani Party-list
- A TEACHER – Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment through Action, Cooperation, and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms
- PWD – Pilipinos with Disabilities
- 1-LAMBAT – IsangLapianngMangingisda at Bayan tungosaKaunlaran
- AAMA – Alliance of Advocates in Mining Advancement for National Progress
- BH – BagongHenerasyon
- AKMA-PTM – AksyonMagsasaka-PartidoTinigngMasa
- KABATAAN – Kabataan Party-list
- AKB – Ako Bicol Political Party
- AANI – AngAgrikulturaNatinIsulong
- UNI-MAD – United Movement Against Drugs Foundation
- ALIM – Action League of Indigenous Masses
- ALAY BUHAY – Alay Buhay Community Development Foundation Incs
- AN WARAY – An Waray
- PBA – PuwersangBayaningAtleta
- FIRM 24-K – Firm-24K Association Inc
- TUCP – Trade Union Congress Party
- ANG LADLAD
- ADING – Advance Community Development in New Generation
- ABANTE RETIREES – Abante Retirees Party-list Organization
- KATRIBU – Katribu Indigenous Peoples Sectoral Party
- COCOFED – Philippine Coconut Producers’ Federation Inc
- ATING KOOP – AdhikaingTinataguyodngKooperatiba
- PISTON – Piston Land Transport Coalition Inc
- AGAP – Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines
- AGBIAG – AgbiagTimpuyog Ilocano Inc
- ALE – Association of Laborers and Employees
- ANG PROLIFE
- AVE – Alliance of Volunteer Educators Party-list
- BINHI – Binhi-Partidong mga Magsasakaparasa mga Magsasaka
- ATING GURO
- ARAL – Association of Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership
- ACT TEACHERS – Act Teachers Party-list
- BUTIL – Butil Farmers Party
- COOP NATCCO – Cooperative Natcco Network Party
- VFP – Veterans Freedom Party
- ACT-CIS – Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support Inc
- GABRIELA – Gabriela Women’s Party
- 1-AAMOVER – A Action Moral & Values Recovery Reform Philippines Inc
- AMIN – Anak Mindanao Party-list
- UMALAB KA – UgnayanngMaralita Laban saKahirapan
- ALYANSA NG OFW – Alyansang OFW Party-list
- ABAKADA – Abakada-Guro
- YACAP – You Against Corruption and Poverty
- ABROAD – Action Brotherhood for Active Dreamers Inc
- KAAKBAY – Katipunanng mga Anakng Bayan All Filipino Democratic Movement
- AMA – AagapaysaMatatanda
- AMOR SEAMAN – Association of Marine Officer & Ratings Inc
- ANAC-IP – Ang National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples Action Na
- ANGKLA – AngPartidong mga Pilipinong Marino Inc
- ATONG PAGLAUM – AtongPaglaumInc
- ABA – AlyansangBayanihanng mga Magsasaka, ManggagawangBukid, at Mangingisda
- AAMBIS-OWA – AngAsosasyon Sang MangungumaNgaBisaya-OwaMangungumaInc
- 1-AALALAY – IsangAlyansangAalalaysaPinoy
- ABANTE KA – AbanteKatutuboInc
- 1BAP – 1 Banat &Ahapo Party-list Coalition
- BANTAY – The True Marcos Loyalist for God, Country, and People
- 1 BRO-PGBI – 1-Bro Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc
- AFPSEGCO – Alliance for Philippine Security Guards Cooperative
- A-IPRA – Agapayng Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Alliance
- BAYAN MUNA
- MTM PHILS – MamamayantungosaMaunladnaPilipinas
- ANG KASANGGA – KasanggasaKaunlaranInc
- LPGMA – LPG Marketers Association Inc
- ANG MINERO – Sectoral Party of AngMinero
- AA KASOSYO – Kasosyo Producer
- 1 ANG PAMILYA – UnaangPamilya Party-list
- 1st KABAGIS
- 1-UTAK – 1-United Transport Koalisyon
- DIWA – Democratic Independent Workers Association Inc
- ARC – Alliance for Rural Concerns
- CIBAC – Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption
- AGILA – AgilangKatutubong Pilipino Inc
- 1GANAP/GUARDIANS – 1 Guardians Nationalist Philippines Inc
- AGHAM – Alyansang mga GrupongHaligingAgham at TeknolohiyaparasaMamamayanInc
- MIGRANTE – MigranteSectoral Party of Overseas Filipinos and their Families
- AWAT Mindanao – Anti-War Anti-Terror Mindanao
- ALLUMAD – AlyansaLumad Mindanao Inc
- ATM – AbanteTribungMakabansa
- PACYAW – Pilipino Association for Country-Urban Poor Youth Advancement and Welfare
- KLBP – KababaihangLingkodng Bayan saPilipinas
- AASENSO – AtingAgapaySentrongSamahanng mga ObreroInc
- AG – AngGalingPinoy
- A BLESSED – Blessed Federation of Farmers and Fishermen International Inc
- AMA – AngMata’yAlagaan
- AKAPBATA Inc – AkapbataSectoral Organization for Children Inc
- SMART – Social Movement for Active Reform and Transparency
- ABP – Alliance of Bicolnon Party
- ANAD – Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy
- ADA – Agrarian Development Association
- ARARO – Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction Inc
- KAP – KaagapayngNagkakaisangAgilangPilipinongMagsasaka
- APEC – Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives
- AKBAYAN – Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party
- 1-SAGIP – Social Amelioration & Genuine Intervention on Poverty
- 1JAMG – 1 Joint Alliance of Marginalized Group Inc
- AKO BAHAY – Adhikain at KilusanngOrdinaryong Tao parasaLupa, Pabahay, Hanapbuhay, at Kaunlaran
- ADAM – Adhikainng mga DakilangAnakMaharlika
- AKO – AkoAyokosaBawalnaDroga
- ABAMIN – Abante Mindanao
- APPEND – Append Inc
- AGRI – Agri-Agra naRepormaparasaMagsasakangPilipinas Movement
- AT – AangatTayo
- ANG NARS
- GREENFORCE – Green Force for the Environment Sons and Daughters of Mother Earth
- SENIOR CITIZENS – Coalition of Association of Senior Citizens in the Philippines
- ALIF – Ang Laban ngIndigenong Filipino
- 1-PABAHAY – IsangPangarapngBahaysaBagongBuhayngMaralitangKababayanInc
- KAKUSA – Kapatiranng mga NakulongnaWalang-sala
- BUHAY – BuhayHayaangYumabong
- 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.
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