Senator backs moves to reform party-list system

MANILA – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon threw his support behind efforts to reform the party-list system in the country as he expressed dismay at how the system that was supposed to give voices to the poor and marginalized was skewed to favor the rich and powerful.

“I am all for genuine reform of the party list system and our political party system in general. It is about time that we debate on this and come up with a meaningful and genuine reform,” Drilon said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Makabayacan bloc in the House of Representatives filed a party list system reform bill, which would make it exclusive to parties representing the marginalized and underrepresented.

Drilon noted how “the current party list system was exploited by powerful political clans to strengthen their hold on power.”

“Every election we would see millionaires, even billionaires, claiming to represent the poorest sector of the society. I don’t think that is the intent of the Constitution,” Drilon said.

Section 5 (2), Article VI of the Constitution states that: “(2) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this 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.”

“This 18th Congress should make a legacy. It must be remembered as the Congress that sets aside politics and personal interest, and successfully reforms the party list system and our political party system,” he added.

Drilon is the author of Senate Bill No. 12 that seeks to strengthen the political system in the country. The bill seeks to strengthen the political system, prevent political party switching and level the playing field among political parties.

Drilon said that reforms to the country’s political party system and the party-list system are critical in order to achieve genuine political development and strengthen the democratic system.

“The Congress should prioritize these twin measures if we really care about the future of our country,” he added.

Drilon said that the Cardema case is Exhibit A, clearly showing how the party-list system could easily be manipulated and is prone to abuse.

Drilon was referring to the nomination of former National Youth Commission chair Ronal Gian Cardema as Duterte Youth Party-List first nominee, which was eventually cancelled by the Commission of Election and ruled that Cardema was not eligible to represent the youth sector because of age.

“There are a lot of issues involving the party-list system which need to be threshed out and reforms must be put in place, so that we can truly give voices to the poor and marginalized,” Drilon said.