Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is introducing a new measure which seeks to reform the partylist system and ensure that only the marginalized sectors of society are genuinely represented and not the interest of moneyed politicians and businesses.
De Lima said she is filing a bill amending Republic Act 7941, also known as the Partylist Law, to clarify the ambiguities conveniently used and circumvented by politicians with vested interests to make a mockery of the system and vault themselves to power.
“Prostituting the partylist system can no longer be allowed to persist…It is high time we emphasize that the partylist system of representation is, more than titles and seats, a social justice tool that ought to give more law to those who have less in life,” she said.
According to her, the deliberations of the framers of the 1987 Constitution indicated that the partylist system was conceived with the clear intention “that the system will democratize political power by encouraging the growth of a multi-party system.”
Citing the case of Bayan Muna vs. COMELEC, De Lima pointed out that former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban underscored the importance of the partylist system in empowering the masses to directly participate in legislation that will benefit them.
Panganiban, however, also warned that the partylist organizations could be infiltrated by those who do not genuinely represent the causes and plight of the marginalized and underrepresented.
“It did not take long before the masses were robbed off of the constitutional gift… Seats constitutionally reserved for the marginalized were quickly warmed by the bottoms of the greedy,” De Lima stressed, referring to the entry of prominent political and business names as partylist representatives.
De Lima’s measure will help put a stop to the growing abuses of the partylist system law by clearly defining the term “bona fide member” of a party to ensure those who genuinely belong to the marginalized sectors will act as their representatives.
The former election lawyer also wants a partylist to be disqualified from participating in the election if all of its nominees become unable to assume their post as partylist representative after the campaign period begins.
“This bill further gives the power to the party rather than the nominee by giving the party the opportunity to replace their representative during their term,” said De Lima.
To prevent political dynasties from bastardizing the partylist system, the measure, once passed into law, will prohibit any person from being nominated as partylist representative if related by affinity or consanguinity within the third degree to an incumbent elected official.
This includes mayor, vice-mayor, governor, vice-governor, district representative, party-list representative, senator, vice president, and the president.
“With this bill, we will give back the gift to the people, & we will give life to social justice as envisioned by our forefathers whose noble intentions should be the fertile grounds on which we plant the seeds of hope,” said De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion.
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