Progressive bloc slams SC party-list ruling

Apr. 09, 2013

Bayan Muna Party-list second nominee Carlos Zarate said that the April 2 en banc ruling “gives imprimatur to the further unbridled dominance by the moneyed and powerful elites in our political and electoral system.”

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The High Court’s decision to allow big political parties in the party-list elections legitimized the “further bastardization of the party-list system.”

Bayan Muna Party-list second nominee Carlos Zarate added that the April 2 en banc ruling “gives imprimatur to the further unbridled dominance by the moneyed and powerful elites in our political and electoral system.”

The decision stemmed from the petitions of 54 groups disqualified by the Comelec.  The SC said that under the new parameters it prescribed, “petitioners may now possibly qualify to participate” in the coming party-list elections, including those who don’t fall from the “marginalized and underrepresented” category.

Petitioners include Mikey Arroyo’s Ang Galing Pinoy and Retired Gen. Jovito Palparan’s Bantay Partylist.  Abang Lingkod, also a petitioner, is known as a group of the rich landlords of Negros province like Representative Albee Benitez and Board Member Patrick Lacson, son of Chairman Bitay Lacson of the Government Service Insurance System.

The Comelec has been tasked to screen the 54 disqualified petitioners based on the parameters the SC has set and other grounds like the failure to prove their advocacy for a sector, or violation of election laws.

Professor Luz Ilagan, Representative for Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), told that the SC decision only “exacerbates an already deplorable situation.”

She lamented it when the “powerful” and the “administration’s allies” are allowed to invade the party-list system, including those groups organized by “members of political dynasties, traditional politicians, landed families and business groups.”

Citing the Philippine Constitution and Section I of R.A. 7941 or the Party-List Law, Ilagan emphasized that the “marginalized and underrepresented sectors” should be represented in Congress and that their participation should be enhanced, a component she called “social justice.”

The Party-List Law states that 20 percent of the Lower House must be made up of direct representatives of “marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies.”

“Allowing political dynasties who have formed their own party-lists to run defeats the purpose of social justice.  It is an injustice.  The marginalized will become doubly marginalized,” Ilagan said.

Katribu party-list also scored the SC ruling saying, “What very little space there is for the truly powerless and underrepresented in this elite-dominated political system is taken away.”

Kakay Tolentino, secretary general of Katribu, in a statement said that marginalized groups like the indigenous peoples already have miniscule chances of getting their voices heard in the legislature.

She urged the Comelec to “be firm in disallowing the dubious party-lists” to participate in the party-list elections.  “Otherwise, the party-list system will be yet another travesty of the electoral system,” she pointed out.

Zarate, meanwhile said, that the SC ruling may temporarily become a setback.  “But in the end, it will not stifle the growing people’s movement for real people’s empowerment.”  (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/

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