No more party-list system. Not only that, Duterte said “It will never come again.”
This is what President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday, July 29, after visiting Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) militiamen wounded following an assault by the New People’s Army. The attack had happened in Kapalong, Davao del Norte just a few days before.
Duterte believed the Constitution must be amended, and among the amendments needed is the repeal of party lists. He felt they merely catered to the political agenda of the rich.
“Yung mga mayayaman (the rich), representing the what? The security guards?” he said at the Kapalong news conference.
He added that money can do anything in dirty politics.
“Kasi ito ‘yung pera, kahit ano diyan mabili mo, United Idiots Association. Tatakbo. Nagkalat kayo diyan, (Here’s money which you can use to buy anything, United Idiots Association. Then they’d run for office. They’re all over the place)” he said.
Party lists push for advocacies popular among the populace. Some say they do this just to ride on the popularity. But not for long. When party-list leaders become well known enough they get voted to office eventually. People equate them for the causes they represent and get good images. Since only the rich can afford to put up party lists, they are sometimes deemed as pro-rich.
Hence, the system is seen by some as being abused by unscrupulous politicians. They are said to be there not to represent the will of the people but the designs and caprices of small sectors of society, especially their business interests.
“Representing what, security guards?” he asked. “That’s a mockery of the law.” He further added that, “‘Yan talaga ang pinakabastos magawa mo (That’s the most impertinent thing you could do).”
He assured everyone, however, that “I will not allow a Constitution that is anti-Filipino.” Thus, Duterte insisted, “With a new Constitution, I will insist: no party-list.”
The president added that he would ensure that the amended Constitution would truly be responsive to the people’s will. How? He said that he will personally watch the proceedings in a constituent assembly (Con-ass) and see to it that everything will be pro-people.
“I will be there,” he assured everyone. “When worse comes to worst, they (the Con-ass lawmakers) know what will happen.” He even added: “And I will be there to read what you (the Con-ass) have worked on.”
Duterte prefers a constituent assembly to a constitutional convention (Con-con) because the latter would prove too costly.
Duterte urged to review party-list system, not abolish it
Party-list lawmakers asked Duterte to review the country’s party-list system instead of abolishing it because not all of them are bad.
Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said, “Not all party lists are bad… The party list system was instituted by farmers of the 1987 Constitution enhance proportional representation and uplift the plight of all Filipinos, including the underrepresented sectors.”
Other party-list representatives also voiced out the same sentiment, citing how they are able to pursue the interests of the sectors they represent, such as the overseas Filipino workers.
Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano said that he does see the need to amend RA 7941, or the Party-List System Act, to “weed wealthy opportunists out of the system.” He suggested assessing the party-list’s background, the personalities of the representatives, and their performance in Congress.
Other suggestions include reviewing the Comelec’s accreditation process for these party-list groups and addressing the “systemic causes” that affected the groups’ credibility.