Redundant, unnecessary party-list system | Inquirer Opinion

Redundant, unnecessary party-list system

/ 01:32 AM October 22, 2012

Neal Cruz was absolutely right when he called for the abolition of the party-list system (Inquirer, 9/17/12). Of course, that is easier said than done; it can’t be done without amending the Constitution.

This country is known, or notorious, for being an incorrigible copier of everything foreign. But I wonder where on Planet Earth the framers of the 1987 Constitution picked up this political animal called party-list system. With due respect to them, methinks that over the years the party-list system has grown, and still keeps growing, to be one of the most unnecessary, if not stupid, provisions of the present Charter.

Once upon a time, when I was taking up Philippine Government in high school, I thought that our so-called congressmen carried the undiluted mandate to represent and work for all of the diverse interests and aspirations of the governed, and to concretize them through responsive legislation. With the needed laws they put in place, the executive department’s various agencies for labor, agriculture, education, housing, environment and the like then took over to promote the people’s continuing social, economic, political and cultural well-being.

It never occurred to me that the kind of people’s representatives I had known then would someday belong to a vanishing breed. I mean, these representatives had become more preoccupied with their pork barrel than with promoting their constituents’ welfare. And so, sectoral representation in Congress was born—an apparent constitutional prescription that has become deadlier than the illness it sought to cure. District congressmen are no longer as interested as they used to be with sectoral concerns. And why, indeed, would they still be? Practically all the concerns of people they represent—labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth and such other sectors as provided by law, except the religious sector—are now supposedly attended to by party-list representatives. Alas, if this manpower complement now existing in Congress is not what private organizations call redundant, I do not know what is!

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Be that as it may, we keep adding more and more sectors to the above list even in the absence of a specific law legalizing their inclusion, in turn snowballing the annual budget for pork barrel.

Finally, let it be asked: Has the party-list system improved the lot of the marginalized in our society? It may have even worsened instead. Look at the continuing public rallies and protests that we see in our midst and times!

And so, I indeed salivate for the ultimate abolition of the party-list system as well as for the amendment of certain provisions that may have left much to be desired. My only simple wish is: May the amendment be done through a constitutional convention, not by Congress. With malice toward none, I believe that any shortcomings of a constitutional convention, such as we see in the present Charter, may only be unwitting and inadvertent; those of lawmakers are likely to be more self-serving than for the common good.—RUDY L. CORONEL, [email protected]

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TAGS: party-list system, Philippines

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