The current set-up of having several political parties with almost identical sets of candidates will only further weaken our democracy, said Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza on Friday even as he called for what he said are much needed reforms in the country’s electoral system.
“What we’re witnessing now is the genuine, real distortion of the electoral process. The [citizens are]not given any choice. ‘Di na ang mamamayan ang namimili. Ang pagpili ay sa pagitan na lang ng pulitiko sa pulitiko [The people no longer do the choosing. The selection is made between politicians]. Now, many senatorial candidates of one party are also candidates of other parties. There’s an urgent need for reforms and a return to a sane system of elections,” Atienza said in a statement.
One reform that is urgently needed, he added, is a return to the two-party system.
“We need to restore the two-party system to ensure fair elections. Right now, there are no real, organized political parties to speak of. There are many places where prospective candidates are discouraged from running with financial considerations. Walang maiiwan na ibang kandidato kung hindi ang mga mayayaman na binili na ang mga makakalaban nila [It is only the rich candidates that are left, those who have bought their potential opponents]. There will be no election in many districts because there will only be one candidate running and the people will have no choice at all. Eventually, this political malady will weaken the very foundations of democracy,” Atienza pointed out.
One example, he said, is that all the candidates now for Vice President come from the Nacionalista Party.
Anong klaseng eleksyon ang mangyayari? Sinong kandidato ang pipiliin ng mga tao? Kung walang elekyson, walang demokrasya [What kind of elections will happen? Who will the people choose? If there are no elections, there will be no democracy]. Political parties have practically rendered themselves inutile and meaningless. There is an urgent need to review our electoral processes and the role of political parties in our democracy. This must be done to restore genuine democracy in our country,” Atienza added.
He said he will continue to fight in Congress for the return of the two-party system, as well as the restoration of Section 67 of Batas Pambansa 881 or the Omnibus Election Code that calls for the resignation of any elected official running for higher office.
“The removal of this section has allowed a reversion to the malpractice of the past where senators who ran for higher office but lost could conveniently go back to their positions after the elections. This was tailor-made for senators with six-year terms,” he said.