Opinion

Rationalizing the party-list system

Rationalizing the party-list system

Out of 270 applications for party-list accreditation, at least 126 have been rejected so far by the Commission on Elections. The Comelec should further prune the list.

The party-list system has become a mockery of the intent of framers of the Constitution to provide congressional representation to marginalized sectors. The Charter specifically mentioned the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women and youth sectors.

The constitutional provision specifically excluded the religious sector from the party-list, while allowing “such other sectors as may be provided by law.” Leaving this issue to the discretion of lawmakers has opened the floodgates to party-list representation for anything and everything.

Today there are party-list organizations created by major political parties and religious groups, and several that don’t even stand for any specific sector. Their representatives in Congress are no longer required to be bona fide members of the sector. And the burden on taxpayers keeps getting heavier as the list of accredited groups grows longer every three years.

So the Comelec’s trimming of the list of accredited groups is always welcome. It would be even more welcome if it could crop the list to its barest.

It would be too much to expect the House of Representatives, with its membership continually growing through gerrymandering and the party-list, to pass legislation that will make the system truly work for the marginalized. Charter change can either introduce reforms to make the system work, or else put an end to this failed experiment in marginal representation.

Until this happens, however, the Comelec can consider ways of rationalizing the party-list. While a Supreme Court ruling contributed to the current sorry state of the party-list, the Comelec must not give up efforts to prevent the abuse of the system.