Philippine Party-List System: A Failure or a Success? Essay

The country’s population is about 90 million ; about 70 per centum of which is in poorness.

It is non implausible to state that bulk of the country’s population is underserved and marginalized ? our husbandmans. fisher folks. the young person and the adult females among others ?and are in demand of government’s attending.

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In a underdeveloped state like the Philippines. decision-making or policy-making must pitch towards development of these underserved sectors of the Philippine society. The population elects its legislators ? congressional and party-list representatives. senators and the remainder of the elected members of the bureaucratism. But what confidence do the Filipino people get that the underserved are represented in the policy-making organic structure of the state? It is the party-list system. As defined by Republic Act No. 7941 besides known as the Philippine Party-list Act.

“the party-list system is a mechanism of relative representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national. regional and sectoral parties or organisations or alliances thereof registered with the Commission on Elections ( COMELEC ) . ”The principle behind the outgrowth of the Philippine party-list system in the Philippine party political relations is to supply representation to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of the society ? a ‘democratizing agent’ to the elite-oriented Congress. However.

it attempts to dispute the position quo and genuinely function the underserved multitudes ( Rivera. 2007 ) . The outgrowth of the party-list system is non an event which transpired “out of the blue” instead an effort to right an insufficiently undemocratic turning elect party political relations in the state. Tracing history backwards. the domination of the elite-oriented party political relations can clearly be seen since its get downing up to its go oning dominance in the Filipino political relations today. When the American regulation in the Philippines instigated. they were faced with Filipino armed opposition. To defy such “insurgencies” and to put in its complete control over the Philippines.

the Americans fastidiously deceived the Filipinos thru the Filipinization it proposed ? a locale for Filipino engagement in the kingdom of administration and political relations. To accomplish such intent. they “recruited” the elites to fall in the Filipinization ( Gealogo. 2007 ) . Why the elites?For one. they have their ain involvement to protect. They have much and more to lose than to derive if they won’t output and collaborate with the colonisers.

And they do non swear their fellow Filipinos for they themselves have branded their fellowmen as ‘thieves’ . Simply put. they try to keep political power.

And political power resides in belongings: in their wealth. It is interesting to observe. they have collaborated non with the Americans merely but with all the other colonisers who came to our land and they successfully maintained a fastness in the political sphere ? in the sphere of influence and the influential ? and so begins the reign of the elites. Dante Simbulan ( 2005 ) sites that “the political parties or cabals that developed [ today ] had one common beginning: the principalia group which. .

. was composed of the native opinion elites under the Spaniards [ accent added ] . ” The elites of today are in fact the elites of the colonial Philippines. Surprisingly. the full Philippine party system in today’s clip is dominated merely by less than a hundred to a hundred affluent households. and they exist as political kins and dynasties ( Simbulan. R. .

2007 ) .Does one anticipate an elite-oriented Congress to pass against its ain involvements and truly function the greater multitudes ? the marginalized and the underrepresented? Prior to the party-list system. minority parties that represent the involvement of the same sectors that the party-lists represent today have existed. They tried to send on the involvement of the underserved and the marginalized. but finally. “no working category ( or counter elect ) political group or party was able to thrive [ accent added ] ( Simbulan.

D. . 2005 ) . ” Former minority parties did non thrive.

Now that the Philippine Party-list Act provides the constitution of the party-list system. the inquiry is: Will it. excessively. vanish like the minority parties which used to presume the same function it does today? This paper seeks to measure the efficaciousness of the party-list system while indicating out loopholes and oversights in the system.As Section 2 of Republic Act No 7941 or the “Party-list System Act” provinces.

the Party-list System has three basic elements: ( 1 ) to include the “marginalized” and “underrepresented” sectors of the state in the legislative procedures of the House of Representatives ? democratise the Congress ; ( 2 ) to pluralise the party system by promoting multi-parties and ( 3 ) to simplify the electoral system. Let us analyze the first component of the party-list system by happening out whether it complies with its most basic intent or non ? that is to democratise the Congress. Based on RA 7941 and the 1987 Constitution. the party-list ( originally ) has the undermentioned basic characteristics: 1. Twenty percent allotment. The party-list representatives constitute 20 % of the entire figure of representatives including those under the party-list.2.

Two per centum threshold. A party or organisation must obtain at least two per centum of the entire ballots obtained by the party-list system in order to acquire one place. 3. Three-seat bound. Section 11 of RA 7941 specifies that a qualified party would be entitled to a upper limit of three seats. 4. Proportional representation. The extra seats that the party is entitled to are computed in proportion to its entire figure of ballots.

Over the old ages. there have been arguments on these basic characteristics of the party-list system? the construction per Se is said to be a “counter-productive” construction and is in contrast to the really intent of the party-list system. To demo this.

allow us take a expression at the 14 old ages of the party-list system. The first of all time party-list election in 1998 was accepted with enthusiasm. A sum of 123 parties participated in the election.The first party-list election was non free of contentions. Right after the election. a certain party-list ( PAG-ASA ) filed a request desiring the make fulling up of the complete 20 per centum rank of the party-list to the House of Representatives? they argued it is compulsory.

This request gathered support from nine other organisations which besides filed. Finally. the COMELEC declared all the other 38 organisations in add-on to the already declared 14 victors. In declaring the other 38 organisations the COMELEC clearly disregarded the 2 per centum threshold and it reasoned out that their determination was based on the undermentioned justifications: ( 1 ) ‘the marginalized and the underrepresented sectors must be represented in the House of Representatives. ( 2 ) the party-list system must stand for the broadest sectors of the society and ; ( 3 ) it would promote multi-party system. ’However.

12 of the parties which were ab initio declared by the COMELEC objected to the announcement of the other 38 organisations reasoning that merely them ( the 14 ab initio declared victors ) are entitled to the place in the lower house because the other 38 organisations failed to achieve the 2 per centum ballot threshold.Finally. the difference was resolved in the Supreme Court. In an en banc session of the Supreme Court in October 1998 it ruled that the 20 per centum place allotment as prescribed by Section 5 ( 2 ) of the Constitution is non compulsory. Furthermore. it ruled that the 2 per centum threshold is constitutional therefore required to obtain a place in the House of Representatives.

So the COMELEC had to remember the announcement of the other 38 organisations. Given the basic characteristics of the party-list system. one of import inquiry demands to be answered: “How does the party-list system heighten the opportunities of marginalized or underrepresented parties of winning seats in the House of Representatives? ” The COMELEC says that with the three- place cap for the party-lists.

major political parties or the bigger parties which normally dominates the elections will non hold the opportunity to “corner all the seats” in the House of Representatives and “crowd out” minority parties. This. they argue. will promote the party-lists to win place in the House of Representatives.

Granted this to be true and the desired or expected effect to be existing. the party-list is so a possible counter-foil to the elite-dominated Congress. However. given this characteristics. peculiarly the three-seat cap. Felix Muga ( 2007c ) argues?in contrast with what the COMELEC declares?that this characteristics of the party-list system peculiarly the three-seat cap is a “counter-productive” construction for “it promotes the break-up of a strong party into smaller 1s and discourages parties to organize bigger coalitions” ( Para. 4 ) .

To exemplify this. allow us see the events after the 2001 Party-list Elections. After the Supreme Court disqualified some parties during the 2001 Elections. Bayan Muna’s per centum portion of entire party-list ballots reached 26. 82 per centum ( Party-List Canvass Report Number 26 as September 7. 2001 ) . Sadly. they were merely given three seats.

Consequently. in the 2004 party-list election. Bayan Muna broke up into smaller parties and obtained 6 seats in the House of Representatives.Note that non merely Bayan Muna resorted to this interruption up ; there are besides several of other party-lists like the Sanlakas. Thus. Muga farther claims that “it [ 3-seat cap ] does non pave the manner for smaller parties to win seats in the House of Representatives. Together with the 2 % informal threshold in the simplified Comelec Formula or with the first party-rule of the Panganiban Formula. it can non make full up the available figure of party-list seats and causes the Formula used to belie the rule of relative representation [ accent added ] .

” The party-list as defined is a ‘mechanism for relative representation’ ( RA 7941 ) . Thus. for case.

if a party gets 50 per centum of the entire party-list ballots. it shall acquire the 50 per centum of the entire figure of seats allocated for the party-lists ( rule of proportionality ) .RA 7941 requires a ballot threshold.

The two ( 2 ) per centum ballot threshold means that the party which obtained at least 2 per centum of the party-list ballots will be allotted the place. Mathematically. this can be represented by entire figure of ballots of all parties divided by the entire figure of available seats ( Hare Quota ) .

In the 2007 Party-list election. the entire figure of party-list ballots reached 8. 416. 421 ; the 20 per centum place allotment for that peculiar Party-List Election translated to 55 seats. Therefore. following the above-named expression. we arrive at “8.

416. 421 divided by 55 seats. peers 153. 025” ( Hare Quota ) .

Following the rule of proportionality. we now compute the ideal place for BUHAY party-list. the ace party-list group in the 2007 Party-List Election. BUHAY attained a entire figure of ballots of 1. 169. 234 ; we divide it with the Hare Quota for the 2007 Party-list Election computed earlier which is 153.

025 ( 1. 169. 234/153.

025 ) . Therefore. the ideal place for BUHAY is 7. 64.However. the ideal place is non the existent place given to the winning party-list groups. Muga ( 2005 ) came up with the thought of “seat allotment error” to exemplify the difference between the ideal place and the existent place given ( ideal place – existent place given ) . BUHAY party-list’s ideal place is 7.

64. but it was granted with merely 3 seats. Therefore.

the “seat allotment error” is 4. 64 seats. They were deprived of 4 more seats in the Congress and were merely given 3. Muga besides provided a expression in calculating the disenfranchised ballots which can be expressed as: Degree of Negation X Hare Quota = Number of ballots disenfranchisedTo a certain extent. the basic characteristics ? the three-seat cap.

the 2 per centum ballot threshold and the First Party Rule ? of the party-list system’s construction caused the negation of relative representation. This construction is so “counter-productive” on the portion of the party-lists and most of all. the full marginalized sector they represent.

The party-list system seeks to democratise the Congress. Ironically. the construction itself does non supply any clear agencies for a echt “democratization” of the Congress. Given this limitations.

‘no party can truly turn in the Congress. ’ In the latter portion of this paper. public presentation of the party-lists ( in footings of statute law ) shall be assessed and we will establish out if the current party-list construction has something to make with the party-lists’ public presentation. Besides. major concerns of the party-list system are issues on accreditation. rank and statute law.

The accreditation procedure employed by the Commission on Elections is really loose ? there is deficiency of prohibition against party-lists with links to the authorities ( irrespective whether direct or indirect ) . deficiency of rigorous infliction of prohibition on party-lists having foreign support. deficiency of stringency in following the regulations set by the jurisprudence on who shall go the party-list’s campaigner among others.

To exemplify this. allow us see the party-list Aksyon Sambayanan or AKSA. It is really clear in the Supreme Court opinion that a party-list shall be disqualified if “It is having foreign support from any foreign authorities. foreign political party. foundation. organisation.

whether straight or through any of its officers or members. or indirectly through 3rd parties for partizan election purposes” ( Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC. G.

R. No. 147589. June 26.

2001. En Banc ) . Despite that.

after known to be supported by Socialist International. AKSA still was accredited. allowed to fall in the election and was given place in the House of Representatives ( Manalansan. 2007 ) . It may be safe to state that the Supreme Court opinion has non been proven unsurmountable because such oversights occur. Besides is the nominee Catalina Bagasina ? a provincial board member and a concern adult female ? of the Pilipino Association for Country or Urban Poor Youth Advancement Welfare ( Pacyaw ) .

The Ang Galing Pinoy party-list is a group stand foring the security guards. Its representative to the Congress is the former first son?the boy of the former President now Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo? Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo. What is disturbing about this is that Rep. Arroyo is non and has ne’er been a security guard.

In short. he doesn’t belong to the sector he represents. Logically. how can he genuinely understand the predicament of the security guards if he himself is non one of them? The Supreme Court governing provinces that “not merely the campaigner party or organisation must stand for marginalized and underrepresented sectors. so besides must its campaigners.

The campaigners must be Filipino citizen ‘who belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors. organisations and parties [ he/she represents ] ’” ( Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC. G. R.

No. 147589. June 26. 2001. En Banc. parity. 8 ) . Surprisingly.

Ang Galing Pinoy which is in clear rebelliousness to this regulation is still in place in Congress. Still surprisingly. there are other party-lists in rebelliousness to this.1-UTAK party-list ? a group stand foring PUV drivers. operators and commuters ? had the late former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes as its representative. It is interesting to observe that former Sec. Reyes is a hardy guardian of the oil deregulating jurisprudence. which this group he tried to stand for.

strongly opposes. Another point the Supreme Court governing raised was that “the political party. sector. organisation or alliance must stand for the marginalized and underrepresented groups identified in Section 5 or R. A. 7941” ( Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC. G.

R. No. 147589.

June 26. 2001. En Banc ) . However. APEC or the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives is non a marginalized group yet it is granted the opportunity to fall in the election and win seats. Manalansan ( 2007 ) further points out other party-lists which are non considered marginalized.

They are BUHAY. Veterans Federation of the Philippines and Cooperative-National Confederation of Cooperatives ( Coop-NATCCO ) among others. Furthermore. the Supreme Court ruled that “the party or organisation must non be an adjunct of. or a undertaking organized or entry funded or assisted by. the authorities. . .

.The engagement of the authorities or its functionary in the personal businesss of a party-list campaigner is non merely illegal and unjust to other parties. but besides hurtful to the aim of the law” ( Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC. G. R.

No. 147589. June 26. 2001. En Banc ) .

However. the Veterans Federation of the Philippines ( VFP ) is a government-funded group. It is in fact a creative activity of R. A. 2640 ( Manalansan. 2007 ) . Clearly.

there are tonss of loopholes in the current party-list system ? non merely the construction which makes it uneffective but besides the really procedure of filtering or recognizing the party-lists-to-be and the campaigners. In its 14 old ages of being. how good did the party-lists performed in the Filipino legislative assembly? In the 11th Congress. the party-list representatives filed a sum of 3. 698 measures and declarations. Merely 20 measures reached Second Reading.

In the 12th and 13th Congress. party-lists representatives filed a sum of 5. 706 measures and declarations. but bulk of which are still pending ( Manalansan.

2007 ) . In the 14th Congress. there were 19 measures which reached the Third Reading but disappointingly. none became a jurisprudence.One may retrieve the blessing of the 125 pesos day-to-day lower limit pay addition in the thirteenth Congress. It was filed by Bayan Muna Rep.

Crispin Beltran ( 12th Congress ) and refilled by him once more in the thirteenth Congress ( this clip as Anakpawis representative ) . It was approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate. However. it was later on recalled. At the brighter side. Torahs on Abolition of the Death Penalty. Protection to Children in Conflict with the Law.

Anti-Trafficking in Persons. Anti-Violence against Women and Overseas Absentee Voting have been passed with party-list representatives as forwarders and/or advisers. The progressive party-list representatives are persevering plenty to register and re-file measures and declarations that would function the greater mass. These are measures to amend the Labor Code. to revoke the Automatic Appropriations jurisprudence.

Mining Act. National Government Center Land Utilization Act and Oil Deregulation Act among others.On the contrary. a figure of measures have been passed within a short period of deliberations merely. These measures are alleged as “Malacanang-certified” statute laws. Examples of this are the Expanded Value Added Tax. Lateral Attrition Law and the ill-famed Anti-terrorism measure or the Human Security Act of 2007. Since the beginning of the party-list system there were premises that the party-list.

arising from elect political relations. shall merely protract elect political relations in the state ( Simbulan. 2007 ) .Some believe that this is merely a pretend step to do it look that the Philippine society is well-represented in the legislative assembly. At this point. we will seek to measure whether this premise is true or non. It is a fact that the Philippine Congress is a Congress of the elite or the affluent oligarchs of the state. As a affair of fact.

in a survey conducted by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism ( PCIJ ) . it found out that ‘60 to 100 affluent households ( political kins ) “dominate” and “determine” the full Filipino legislative assembly or politics’ ( Simbulan. 2007 ) . The PCIJ studied political kins from 2001 to 2004 and found out that political parties in the state are truly “clan alliances” .In a Congress like this ?dominated by traditional parties and affluent political kins. where figure affairs ? what can the really few party-list representatives do to send on the involvement of the multitudes when it conflicts with the elites? Advocates of the party-list system admit that the party-lists have been absorbed by the traditional parties in the Congress.

In intelligence article from GMA News Television on April 6. 2010. former Marikina Rep. Romeo Candazo ? one of the chief writers of the RA 7941 ? said that ‘majority of the party-list representatives have been co-opted by traditional political relations. As such. it is really hard for this minority party-list to defy the domination of these governing elites.

These political kins coalesce with other kins or political parties to continue and protect the position quo and to keep a fastness on the legislative assembly. This sufficiently explains why the party-lists get co-opted by these traditional parties. Clearly. the party-list is to the disadvantage as compared to the traditional parties in the Congress. First. the party-list lacks the figure or a fastness in the Congress due to the place allotment limitations of the Party-List System Act. Besides.

the party-list lacks the machinery during elections. The really low voters’ turnout on party-list election testifies to the ignorance of the people on this system.This may be attributed to the deficiency of machinery of the party-lists system. The party-lists deficiency the fiscal art to aerate political ads on telecastings and other media of information. In a Pulse Asia Survey ( March 27 to April 4. 2004 ) . telecasting is the taking primary beginning of election-related information ( 71 % ) . followed by wireless at 20 per centum and newspapers by 4 per centum ( Arao.

2007 ) . As such. how would the people know about the party-list if these media of information is non maximized by the party-list? However. we can non deny the fact that the party-list has two faces: the rich and the hapless. Some party-list representatives are found at the bottom 10 per centum poorest Representatives.

but there are party-list representatives who are millionaires. In the 12th Congress. APEC representatives were all multi-millionaires. There are many other millionaire party-list representatives like Alagad’s Rodante Macoleto. AVE’s Eulogio Magsaysay. and Coop-NATCCO’s Guillermo Cua among others.

Note that in the thirteenth Congress. the richest party-list representative was VFP’s Gidaya with a net worth of 34. 66 million pesos and the poorest was Anakpawis’ Rep.

Rafael Mariano with a net worth of 18. 000 pesos ( Manalansan. 2007 ) . It is non implausible that one twenty-four hours the party-list is no longer of difference with the traditional parties in the Congress. What future awaits the Party-List System? Will it excessively vanish or survive the trial of traditional political relations? In decision. this paper does non sabotage the potency of the party-list system for it has forwarded a important figure of measures and declarations since 1998 up to this present Congress. It is a clear mark that the party-lists system.

somehow. is working in the Philippines. They have provided the underserved and the marginalized a voice in the Congress. They tried to strike a balance in an elect Congress. The party-list per Se is a great opportunity for the multitudes to be represented. But it is undeniable that the party-list system is neglecting.It might merely be a affair of less than a decennary that the “narrow back street constitutionally reserved for the representation of fringy sectors in Congress” be for good closed by traditional political relations ( Tuazon. 2007 ) .

It is rather non difficult to reason that the Philippine party-list system is more of a failure than a success. First and for most. its end to democratise the Philippine Congress is at the oncoming defeated for the construction itself limits the growing of this party-list groups in the Congress and even encouraged break ups among the party-lists. Second. the issue of accreditation weakens the opportunity of the party-list system to truly carry through its assuring purpose ? to function the marginalized and the underrepresented sectors of the society.

Furthermore. the party-lists are co-opted by traditional political relations. The party-list statute law has non resulted to any concrete jurisprudence that would straight profit the underserved sectors of the Philippine society. However. the hereafter for the party-list system is still bright despite such failures. As Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid of the Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma Foundation said:Those who argue that it [ the party-list system ] should be retained.

and in fact strengthened. point to how it has been able to equilibrate our “elite” democracy by supplying representation to sectors which otherwise would hold been excluded under our present political system. But how do we cover with blazing maltreatments like holding persons who had ne’er been a portion of the group that they are expected to stand for? . . .

It is about clip that the system should be examined by groups from assorted sectors of society [ accent added ] .The party-list system as the exclusive legal or constitutional agencies by which the underrepresented and the marginalized sectors of the Philippine society assert their rights and be portion of the Filipino legislative assembly. despite its failure. should be braced and strengthened so as to function its intent truly.


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