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Sotto bill aims partylists tweak

Hananeel Bordey



Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday filed a bill seeking to amend Republic Act 7491 or the Partylist System Act.

His bill came after President Rodrigo Duterte suggested to amend the 1987 Constitution to abolish the partylist system in a bid to bust the alleged sympathizers of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Congress.

Under his bill, Sotto inserted a phrase requiring the political party sector or organizations to represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors. Majority of a partylist membership should belong to the sector it seeks to represent.

The bill also allows the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to refuse or cancel the registration of the national, regional, or sectoral party, organization, or coalition that failed to represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors or those that have no well-defined constituency.

Comelec may also cancel the registration of parties that directly or indirectly participate in “acts detrimental to the best interest of the government, to overthrow the government or diminishes its power, or to be associated by any means to rebels or those designated or proscribes terrorist persons or groups” under the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Registration of groups that cease to be marginalized or underrepresented sectors and those material misrepresentations of its nominee’s qualifications may likewise be canceled by the government.

“Through the years, the interpretation of the law on partylist has expanded its qualification and deviated from the intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, which is to truly represent the marginalized and the underrepresented,” Sotto said in his explanatory note.

“The partylist system has also been abused and used as a vehicle to pursue advocacies that are not for the best interest of the government,” he added.

Sotto noted that the true mandate of the partylist system has “created the evil” that was sought to have been prevented by those who wrote the Constitution.

Sotto said the Constitution intends to prevent the increase in social, economic, and political inequalities in society.

The Senate President’s position gained the support of other senators namely Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Panfilo Lacson, and Risa Hontiveros, to name a few.