Partylist lawmakers: Not abolition, but reform

By on August 1, 2016


(Malacanang stock photo)
(Malacanang stock photo)

MANILA—Two partylist lawmakers on Monday called for a review of the party-list system law instead of its abolition, as they cited the numerous accomplishments of “true” partylist groups in previous Congresses.

Reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the abolition of the partylist system under a proposed federal government, Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano and Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin said it would be more prudent for a review or investigation on the party-list system law in order to institute needed reforms.

Although he does not support the abolition of the partlylist system, Alejano said “I agree that the party-list law should be amended to weed wealthy opportunists out of the system.”

“The Supreme Court aptly stressed that the party-list system is a tool for social justice. To abolish it completely without conducting a comprehensive study of its implementation is to deprive the marginalized, the underrepresented a voice in the highest lawmaking body of the Republic,” he said.

“It is a well known fact that there are many well-meaning party-list groups that have successfully and actively pursued the interests of the sector they represent in Congress,” Alejano said.

A comprehensive review of the implementation of the 21-year old law may help in preserving the “true” intention of RA 7941, he said.

“I propose studying the background of the different party-list groups that participated in the election, the personalities that represent these party-list organizations as well as their performance in the previous congresses to ascertain that they have promoted the advocacies of their parties,” Alejano said.

Villarin said he fully supports calls for reform in the partlylist system and stressed that not all partylist groups are bad.

He said that as a partylist in Congress, Akbayan has been successful in passing landmark legislations such as the Reproductive Health Law, the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Law, and the Philippine Competition Act.

“We continue to push for our advocacies in public health, labor and citizen empowerment among many others. It would be better if the President pushes for the abolition of political dynasties and the banning of political turncoats instead,” Villarin said.

For his part, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the “voice of the people” must be respected in connection with the President’s call for the abolition of the partylist system.

“I think we should listen to the voice of the people because in the end it is the people who would decide whether or not they would agree to the proposal of President Duterte,” Alvarez said.

Last Friday, President Duterte expressed his dissatisfaction with the implementation of Republic Act No. 7941 or “The Party-List System Act,” stressing that the party-list system has been abused by the rich and the powerful.

According to the President, he would support its abolition in the proposed Constitutional reforms.

“I will insist: No party-list. Inabuso na lahat yan eh. Ang nananalo ay yung may pera, representing the what? Security guards,” Duterte had said.