Sen. Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos has called on the Senate Committees on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the party-list system toward amending Republic Act (RA) 7841 or the “Party-list System Act.”
Marcos filed Senate Resolution 58 following the denouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte of the abuses in the party-list system depriving marginalized groups a vote in Congress.
In his speech at the oath-taking ceremony of newly elected government officials of Cagayan de Oro City in June, Duterte was quoted as saying that party-lists were “evil.”
“Everyone involved there is rich. The rich people fund the party-list,”the President said.
Senate Resolution 58 seeks to prevent abuse and to harmonize the definition and mechanism of the party-list system of representation with the genuine intent of the Constitution.
In the resolution, Marcos stated that Article VI, Section 5(1) of the Constitution provides that the “House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty (250) members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.”
For three consecutive terms after the ratification of the 1987 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.
But the Supreme Court held in Atong Paglaum Inc. v[s] Commission on Elections (GR 203766, April 2, 2013) that the party-list system is not only for sectoral parties, but also for non-sectoral parties, who do not need to represent any “marginalized and underrepresented” sector.
Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman had said the purpose of the Party-List System Act is to afford marginalized sectors a venue for representation in Congress.
As the principal author of the law, Lagman said the Supreme Court had come out with rulings inconsistent with the spirit of the law.
While the party-list system is provided by the Constitution, Marcos said Congress was vested with the broad power to define and prescribe the mechanics of the system of representation.
RA 7941 defines the party-list system as “a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions registered with the Commission on Elections
Component parties, or organizations of a coalition may participate independently provided the coalition of which they form part does not participate in the party-list system.”
Poll watchdog group Kontra Daya reported that nearly half of party-list groups included in the official list of candidates were of the “rich and powerful,” who did not represent marginalized sectors.
Kontra Daya claimed that out of the 134 party-list groups included in the 2019 elections, at least 62 groups had links to political dynasties, represented special business interests or had “questionable advocacies and nominees.”