The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms is now considering House Bill 279, which provides for the manner and date of elections of sectoral representatives to the local sanggunians (councils) nationwide.

This bill, authored by Reps. Cresente Paez (COOP-NATCCO) and Rep. Anthony Bravo (First District, Masbate), gives teeth to the 1987 Constitution’s provision which states that “legislative bodies of local government units shall have sectoral representation as may be prescribed by Law,” the authors noted.

The Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160) has provided that the local sanggunians shall have “one sectoral representative from the women, and one from the workers.”

The Code also mandates “one representation from any of the following sectors: the urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, disabled persons, or any other sector as may be determined by the sanggunians concerned within 90 days prior to the holding of the next local elections as may be provided by law.”

“In 1995, however, Congress enacted RA 7887 which, among others, clarified that there is need for another law, other than the Local Government Code of 1991, for the conduct of elections for local sectoral representatives, thus, HB 279,” the authors pointed out.

It has been more than 20 years after the Filipino people ratified the Constitution that gave them the mandate for local sectoral representation, but there is yet to be an enabling law that authorizes the election of sectoral representatives, the authors noted.

“The absence of an enabling law has frustrated the popular mandate for broader participation of our people and has diminished the democratization of our legislative processes,” they stressed.

HB 279 also provides that each qualified sectoral organization shall submit to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not later than 45 days before the elections, a list of three nominees, ranking them as the first, second and third nominees.

The bill also provides for the qualification of sectoral representatives including rules and regulations on the disqualification of nominees, among others.