When ‘partylist’ and ‘proportional representation’ gets a new meaning

When the Party-List System Act of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 7941) was approved in 1995, sectoral groups, especially the marginalized sectors, found hope of having their voices heard in the halls of Congress. Unfortunately, Robert Ingersoll was right: Hope is the only universal liar who never loses his reputation for veracity. Instead of the voice and power for the marginalized, the party-list became a system that opened more rooms for
political clans and dynasts to strengthen their hold on power.

The first attempt to co-opt the party-list system was done in 1998 during the first party-list elections. National political parties in power like the Lakas-National Union of Christian Democrats (Lakas-NUCD), the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party, Aksyon Demokratiko, Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), and the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) filed their intentions to join the party-list elections. They were accredited by the Commission on Elections and later became a subject of contention in the case of Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs Comelec [G.R. No. 147589. June 26, 2001]. The court, however, ruled, that the party-list system is not open to all political parties but to those that are marginalized and under-represented.

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