Stop the ‘lokohan’ | Inquirer Opinion
There’s the Rub

Stop the ‘lokohan’

/ 09:22 PM October 23, 2012

SIXTO BRILLANTES deserves praise for doing a great job weeding out the party-list system. True enough, it’s become a joke. Kontra Daya deserves praise as well for showing so. Many of them have as much business being there as Mikey Arroyo does representing the country’s security guards.

I do not particularly care that the Commission on Elections allows the battiest nuisance candidates to slip in. I’ve always thought “nuisance” was a relative term. Who is more of a nuisance, a candidate who claims to own a good deal of the country being the heir of some former datu or candidates who will try to own a great deal more of the country than their parents already have, being the children of a former president convicted of corruption and the son of an architect of martial law? The “nuisance candidates” are not likely to win, the other kind is. Who will be a humongous nuisance to us when they do.

But I care that the Comelec allows the most devious party-list groups to slither in. That is stealing coins from the begging bowl of a beggar at an overpass, the one that plays a ragged tune from a battered-down, transistor radio-amplified guitar. The party-list system was put up to give a voice, not unlike the plaintive singing of that beggar, to the derelicts of society, the ones rendered mute and invisible by their poverty and misery.

Much of it is really common sense, and I’m glad Brillantes has uncommon decisiveness to go with it. This is not a matter of wit, this is a matter of will. You need only ask two things. One, does the party represent a disadvantaged sector? And, two, is it represented by a true representative of that disadvantaged sector? By those two criteria, most of those applying for accreditation should be rejected outright.


That includes groups like Ako Bicol. Gregorio Honasan defends that party thus: “Based on what I know, historical records including the electoral record of Ako Bicol, it represents an unrepresented sector… whether marginalized or not from Bicol. Are we questioning the wisdom of the Bicolanos that put three party-list representatives in Congress?” Chiz Escudero defends it thus: Why not Ako Bicol when you have An Waray? And Koko Pimentel defends it thus: Delisting Ako Bicol would be a “massive disenfranchisement of the group’s constituents.”

Why on earth should it signify the massive disenfranchisement of the group’s constituents? You can only disenfranchise the legitimately enfranchised. That group should never have been enfranchised in the first place. It does not represent a disadvantaged sector. Of course that group topped the 2010 elections with 1.5 million votes. Why shouldn’t it? Bicol is not just a province, it is a whole region with a huge voting population. You have a party-list group called Ako Ilocos or Ang Ilocano and it will probably have more votes than Ako Bicol, if you believe in the “solid north.” That is not a reason to exist as a party-list group.

Ako Bicol represents an unrepresented sector, whether marginalized or not? What sector is that? Bicol is not a sector, it is a region composed of several provinces. And Bicolanos, in whole or in part, are not unrepresented, each province has several regular representatives in Congress. I am not questioning the wisdom of the Bicolanos who added three party-list representatives in Congress, I am questioning the wisdom of the previous Comelec which allowed the Bicolanos to have more than their normal share of representatives there. That is unfair to the rest of the country.

But what of An Waray? Surely if you can have An Waray, you can have Ako Bicol too? The logic is specious. In fact the equation is, if you can strike down Ako Bicol, you can strike down An Waray too. If the Warays find themselves in a state of utter disadvantageousness, they should blame their representatives and governors and mayors and get rid of them. And bring in officials who can pluck them out of the mire of misery. Waray upay the argument that Warays need a party-list group all their own to champion them. You agree to that, you have to agree that every province in this country needs a party-list group. Which makes a mockery of the concept.


The party-list system was put in there to give a voice to the voiceless, the kind the NGOs, or civil society, tried to empower in the past with differential results—the indigenous folk, the urban poor, the environmentally devastated, victims of human rights abuses, workers, fishers, lumad, and so on. They are sectors and they are disadvantaged. They are the ones that deserve party-list representation, not the Warays, not the Bicolanos, not the Ilocanos, not the youth and elderly at the same time, not any of the nasty nuisances Brillantes has wisely stricken off the list.

Certainly, not as represented by friends and relations of political kingpins, not as represented by big businessmen, shady or not, not as represented by Mikey Arroyo. While at this, I don’t mind that the disadvantaged are represented by one of their own. People who have been rendered mute not because they are inarticulate but because they are oppressed, not because they are ignorant but because they are ignored, not because they do not understand right and wrong but precisely because they do. I not only do not mind it, I look forward to it. Why should laws be made only by lawyers? We put more “organic intellectuals” in Congress, grassroots folk who are perfectly capable of giving their fellows to glimpse where most of us Filipinos are coming from, then maybe we’ll have less ululation and more deliberation, less rhetoric and more sense, less technicality and more substance.


Or, indeed, less lokohan and more justice.

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TAGS: an waray, Comelec, Conrado de Quiros, party-list system

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