Bayan Muna hits SC rule on partylist system

“The powerful parties would also use this anti-people ruling to get more of the majority seats in Congress and make their railroading even faster.”


MANILA – Expect more rich and famous nominees to join the partylist system on the coming 2016 national elections as the Supreme Court relaxes rules on the partylist system in its 2013 Atong Paglaum case.

In accordance with the high court’s decision, Commission on Elections (Comelec) acting chairman Christian Robert Lim said in a news report, that they would no longer do “automatic review” of party-list nominees because the previous SC decision no longer requires it.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said that the ruling is a setback for the poor majority in the country.

“The SC and Comelec ruling now opened the front door of Congress for the influx of rich and power politicians who entered thru the backdoor when the party-list system was exclusive for the marginalized,” Zarate said. “This is a travesty of social justice and patently anti-democracy. The powerful parties would also use this anti-people ruling to get more of the majority seats in Congress and make their railroading even faster.”

The SC decision said, “National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent any ‘marginalized and underrepresented’ sector.”

The high court also ruled that party-list nominees do not have to come from the marginalized and under-represented sectors that they wish to represent in Congress. Even mere advocates could become nominees.

The SC decision came out after 54 disqualified partylist groups filed a petition in April 2013. The groups were disqualified by the Comelec for failing to meet requirements for representing marginalized sectors. One of the 54 disqualified partylist groups was Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo’s partylist Ang Galing Pinoy. Mikey is the son of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Ang Galing Pinoy claims to represents security guards, tricycle drivers, farmers and small businessmen.

The decision was penned by associate Justice Antonio Carpio. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno dissented.

Bayan Muna Representative and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares said the SC ruling is shocking and a reversal of the true essence of the partylist system.

He said that the partylist system will only worsen because of the SC ruling. “It will bolster the phenomenon of partylist seats for sale because it will become a contest of who has more money.”

He added that with the SC ruling, all the more that the poor and those who are oppressed will lose representation in the House of Representatives. “As of now, there are only few (Representatives) who genuinely pushes for the interests of the oppressed and exploited in the Congress and this is what they do.”

“We hope that we can still reverse this ruling because it is snuffing out what little people’s representation in Congress that is there,” Zarate said. ()

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