DURING a class discussion on the “dark side” of Philippine politics, my professor criticized the party-list system for enabling traditional politicians to perpetuate themselves in power.

As stated in the 1986 Constitution, the party-list system is supposed to give marginalized and underprivileged sectors in the country a representation in the Congress.

But traditional politicians and moneyed sectors have gained seats in Congress through the party-list system even if they are not members of that sector they’re supposed to represent.

This has happened because during elections, party-list groups nominate traditional politicians and businessmen as their representatives. In other cases, politicians and businessmen themselves have established their own party-list groups.

A good example is Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mike” Macapagal-Arroyo. Prior to the 2010 elections, Arroyo served for two terms as representative of the second district of Pampanga. But he didn’t run for a third term to give way to his mother, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

His gesture would have been magnanimous if he had stayed out of office. But wonder of wonders, he decided to form the AGP party-list and represent security guards and tricycle drivers.

Obviously, Arroyo was never a security guard nor even tried to be a tricycle driver. He comes from a family of politicians and accomplished persons who are not in any sense marginalized or underprivileged.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño along with Akbayan’s Walden Bello and Loretta Rosales filed a petition to disqualify Arroyo. But it was dismissed by the Supreme Court that said the petition was premature.

A report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer last June 19 quoted Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona as lamenting that “moneyed individuals are styling themselves as party-list representatives.”

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The article also contained a list of party-list representatives who are reported to be multi-millionaires.

Topping the list was Arroyo himself with P99, 954, 309 in his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth filed last year.

Party-list representatives like Arroyo do not represent, much less, embody the marginalized and underprivileged whose interests they claim to represent.

Has the party-list become one more excuse for politicians and the moneyed to abuse the underprivileged and marginalized?

Has the party-list become one more agent for political and economic prostitution?

***

The Varsitarian invites all Thomasian students to its annual Fiction Workshop. This is your chance to discover and hone your literary talents and be with some of the country’s most respected writers.

Submit six (6) copies of your literary entry written in English or Filipino (Arial, font size 12, double-spaced, and in letter-sized paper) along with a photocopy of your registration form, resume, 1 x 1 photo, and a soft copy of your entry in a CD. Make sure that the entries have no name or any identifying marks.

Submit the requirements in a short brown envelope at the Varsitarian office, Room. 105, Tan Yan Kee Student Center on or before August 10, 2012.

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