EDITORIAL: Scrap Partylists Sans Exception

Rather very late. Be that as it may, the suggestion by outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for the abolition of the Partylist System is very much in order. To a large extent almost all of the partylist representatives have only multiplied to the fourth or fifth power the expenditures for the composition of the House of Representatives. But only the quantity and not the quality of legislation has been highlighted.

Over the past several years most of the partylist legislators have not at all introduced any novel legislative pieces that led for the betterment of the sectors they ought to have championed. On the contrary they have only served as echo chambers of the regular lawmakers consisting of district representatives who by the way are wrongly addressed as “congressmen” or “congresswomen” which positions are never found in the Constitution and has no legal basis at all.

Truth to tell, most of the partylist representatives have contributed largely to the further proliferation of the pork barrel system. The plans or programs they brag about are never impressive at all. Potable drinking water, mini electric power plants, scholarship grants, skills acquisition, and public works projects. All of these are achievable by existing line agencies, which could have been doable at a lesser cost and lower risk of funds landing into more private pockets.

Being selective, however, in pointing an accusing finger to the perceived left-leaning partylists for being exclusively indictable to the sorry state of affairs is uncalled for. Assuming without admitting that they have been ceaselessly conducting activities critical of the government and for that matter against all administrations, their gripe is not entirely baseless.

It may be true to some extent that they tend to further erode public trust and confidence to those running the affairs of the government. Still they deserve fair attention and treatment, provided that the activities are within the bounds of the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech, press and assembly.

Dissent is the most outstanding foundation of a vibrant democracy. Remove that and the road towards autocracy is widely opened.

To a large extent, partylist representatives who serve as fronts of political dynasties and traditional politicians even contribute much to weakening the democratic base of the nation. They do not at all represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, but only further concretize the exclusive hold of the reins of government.

Much worse is the hold of vested interest groups over some partylists in order to guarantee effective lobbies or ensure a more fattened oligarchy.

Bat for the scrapping of partylists. However, in so doing the approach should be all encompassing with the end in view of protecting the state and its institutions against all parties whose motive is self-serving.

Otherwise the hidden agenda in calling for the selective abolition of the partylist system must merit an all-out inquiry. It smells offensively.

Hand-in-hand with scrapping the partylist system, doing away with political dynasties and vested interest groups will be enough proof of candor and sincerity in making the call.