Don't use party-lists as rich's gateway, Reds' legal front: solon
By Filane Mikee Cervantes / Philippine News Agency
MANILA – The party-list system should not be abused as "gateways" by the rich and powerful to occupy seats in government, nor as "legal fronts" by communist rebels, a lawmaker on Friday said.
In an interview, Ang Probinsyano Party-List Representative Alfred delos Santos said party-list groups should genuinely represent the interest of marginalized sectors, as intended under the 1987 Constitution.
“The party-list system should not be used as a gateway of those aspiring seats in Congress, nor should it be used by people allegedly serving as legal fronts of communist rebels seeking to overthrow the government,” he said.
He emphasized that party-list groups play an important role in the country’s political system because they are the "voice" of the marginalized and underrepresented.
“We are aware of reports that there are doubts on some party-list groups but from our end, I can very well say that we are among the most active members of Congress who are doing everything we can to push for the betterment of the marginalized sectors that we are representing,” he added.
Ang Probinsyano Party-List, which is represented by Delos Santos, pushes for equal opportunities for all probinsyanos or people in the countryside.
He vowed to continue crafting measures that seek to promote access to education, livelihood, food, and health for the sector he represents.
“As someone who grew up and was educated in the province, I have seen the inequality in terms of opportunities. That is why I know what I am fighting for, I know what bills we need to craft to improve the lives of our fellow probinsyanos,” he said.
He cited as an example the need to equip farmers with technology in order for them to increase their productivity and become more competitive.
“We should draw inspiration from fully developed countries. We must teach our farmers to maximize technology that is on hand. In that way we can guide them from the planting to the selling of their crops which will hopefully translate to a higher income,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera, for her part, said there is a need to amend the party-list system to ensure that its purpose of giving greater representation to the marginalized and disadvantaged is achieved.
Herrera said the term "marginalized" should be properly defined to make sure that the marginalized sectors or groups, including labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and other such sectors are given representation in Congress.
"There's really a need to amend the party-list law… You have to properly define what marginalized means," Herrera said.
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said at least five party-list groups are serving as “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
In his taped Talk to the People aired late Tuesday night, Duterte said National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson for sectoral concerns and Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy is “right” that party-list groups Kabataan, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela, or the so-called KABAG, are in alliance with the communist group to topple the government.
Duterte also lamented that the party-list groups allied with the CPP are using public funds to support the rebels.
Apart from the communists, the party-list groups are also being controlled by the rich, Duterte said. (PNA)