Of the 177 groups that aspired for party list seats in the House of Representatives in the May 9, 2022 polls, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that at least 70 have nominees who belong to political clans or are related to incumbent elected officials.
The sheer numbers of nominees who go against the spirit of the party list system emphasize how it has been exploited as a backdoor or loophole for more seats in an ever-growing House of Representatives that is already dominated by wealthy and deeply entrenched politicians and their political dynasties.
If there is any good news, it is that President Rodrigo Duterte has been suggesting to the country’s new set of leaders to abolish the party list system.
However his reasons for opposing the party list system have nothing to do with these political dynasties that are using it to strengthen their grip on power, but instead he sees it being abused by groups he describes to be communist front organizations.
The irony is that these groups that have legitimately won party list seats are among the few organizations that actually represent marginalized sectors that the Constitution intended the party list system to benefit. Instead, they are being accused of abusing the party list system and have to deal with red tagging by government itself.
Duterte might want the party list system abolished, but the current composition of Congress that looks like it will never pass an enabling law for the constitutional prohibition on dynasties wouldn’t be interested in killing their monstrous goose that lays golden eggs for their benefit.
The party list system has been abused with impunity by so many selfish and power hungry politicians. There are front organizations for political parties, dynastic clans, big business interests, religious groups and there are even sitting party list lawmakers who unashamedly admit they represent no particular sector. Despite this blatant abuse, government, including the Supreme Court, have either turned a blind eye or even found ways to uphold it.
Government can abolish the party list if it really wants to. Republic Act 7941 or the Party-List System Act of 1995 can be repealed and while the politicians will feel its impact, the people definitely wouldn’t mind to see such a failure be admitted and appropriate measures taken.
The fate of the party list system is now in the hands of our newly elected leaders. We encourage them to make the right decision as far as this failed experiment is concerned.*