Expressing dismay over what he called was the “exploitation” of the partylist system in the country, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon expressed the need for reforms in the system of sectoral representation in Congress.
Drilon cited the case of former National Youth Commission chairman Ronald Cardema as an evidence of abuse of the partylist system.
In a statement on Tuesday, Drilon pointed out that billionaires, millionaires and influential political clans “claim to represent the poor” during elections, explaining that this is not the intent of the Constitution when it introduced the sectoral representation process.
“The current partylist system was exploited by powerful political clans to strengthen their hold on power,” the Senate leader said.
“Every election, we would see millionaires — even billionaires — claiming to represent the poorest sectors of the society. I don’t think that is the intent of the Constitution,” he added.
He mentioned the case of Cardema, whose nomination as representative of the Duterte Youth partylist was recently cancelled by the Commission on Elections for failing to meet the age requirements in representing the youth sector, as “Exhibit A” of the manipulation of partylist system.
“There are a lot of issues involving the partylist 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.
He vowed to rally behind efforts for partylist reforms in the Philippines as it was “skewed to favor the rich and powerful.”
“I am all for genuine reform of the partylist 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.
The Minority Leader has authored Senate Bill 12, which seeks to strengthen the political party system in the country.
“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 partylist system and our political party system,” he added.
Drilon further explained that changing the system will be critical in achieving genuine political development and strengthening the democratic system.
Under Section (5) 2, Article VI of the Constitution, it states that partylist representatives shall constitute 20 percent of the total number of representatives, including those under the partylist. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to partylist 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.
SB 12 aims to institute reforms in campaign financing to promote accountability and transparency, as well as reduced opportunities for graft and corruption.
This also seeks to promote party loyalty, disciple and adherence to ideological principles, platforms and programs, institute measures to make political parties viable instruments of development and good governance, and encourage continuing voters’ education through political parties.
The bill also provides penalties for political turncoatism which was defined as the change of political affiliation under the Senate bill.
“’Turncoatism’ should never be encouraged nor tolerated since it only distorts the concept of honor and dignity of a leader. It is therefore imperative that the country’s political party system should be strengthened in order to achieve genuine political development and democratization,” Drilon said in his explanatory note.