Drilon backs move to reform party-list system

Published August 13, 2019, 2:38 PM

by CJ Juntereal

By Hannah L. Torregoza

Senator Franklin Drilon on Tuesday expressed support for moves to reform the party-list system in the country, noting how the system that was supposed to give voice to the poor and marginalized is being skewed to favor the rich and powerful.

Sen. Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I am all for genuine reform of the party list system and our political party system in general,” Drilon said in a statement.

“It is about time that we debate on this and come up with a meaningful and genuine reform,” the veteran lawmaker said.

The Makabayacan bloc in the House of Representatives has filed a party list system reform bill, which would make it exclusive to parties representing the marginalized and underrepresented. In the Senate, Sen. Leila de Lima filed her own version of the party-list reform measure.

Drilon lamented how “the current party list system was exploited by powerful political clans to strengthen their hold on power.”

“Every election we would see millionaires, even billionaires, claiming to represent the poorest sector of the society. I don’t think that is the intent of the Constitution,” Drilon said.

Section 5 (2), Article VI of the Constitution states that: “(2) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.”

Drilon said the 18th Congress should make reforms in the party-list system as its legacy.

“It must be remembered as the Congress that sets aside politics and personal interest, and successfully reforms the party list system and our political party system,” he said.

For his part, Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 12 that seeks to strengthen the political system in the country. The measure primarily seeks to strengthen the political system, prevent political party switching and level the playing field among political parties.

Drilon said that reforming the country’s political party system and the party-list system are both critical in order to achieve genuine political development and strengthen the democratic system.

“The Congress should prioritize these twin measures if we really care about the future of our country,” he added.

Drilon said the case of former National Youth Commission chair Ronald Gian Cardema as Duterte Youth Party-List first nominee, should be cited as an example to show how the party-list system could easily be manipulated and be prone to abuse.

The Commission of Election (Comelec) eventually cancelled Cardema’s nomination and ruled that Cardema was not eligible to represent the youth sector because of age.

“There are a lot of issues involving the party-list system which need to be threshed out and reforms must be put in place, so that we can truly give voices to the poor and marginalized,” Drilon said.