[OPINION] Make that one party list vote count

This is a #PHVote newsletter sent to subscribers on May 12, 2019.

I’m Chito de la Vega, a senior desk editor here are Rappler.

Having the “senior” badge in a company where probably 9 out of 10 are in their 20s has its advantage and disadvantage. For one, nearly everybody here relies on my so-called institutional memory. Thankfully, also because of my age, I am excused  for memory lapses here and there. (Or am I?)

With the polling precincts just hours from opening, or isang tulog na lang, it is likely you have decided on your choices. As for those undecided, my advice is, it is your civic duty as a Filipino to go out and vote. Trust the system, as they say in sports. We can make it work, only if we play our roles. And, yes, your vote counts.

As for the young people out there, you have a bigger challenge. Yes, there is such a thing as youth vote, and you (aged 18-30) make up around 31% of registered voters for the May 13 elections. By now, you may have heard this thousands of times, the future is in your hands – you either make it or break it. Do the right thing.

But aside from the local and national candidates, let’s also be serious in selecting our choices for party-list representatives. Remember, each voter is entitled to shade only one pick for party list. (READ: 8 things you need to know about the party list).

The framers of the 1987 Constitution had noble reasons in instituting party-list representation. It was an equalizer in a Philippine political arena dominated by the monied and powerful. You vote for a party and its principles, not a person. Though party-list groups are required to identify their 3 nominees, ideally, the party-list group has the power to install or to remove its nominees. The law on the party-list system or Republic Act 7941 states: “The party-list system is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions.”  

When the first party-list polls were held in 1998, I remember casting my vote for Butil, a party which said it represented the rice farmers of Nueva Ecija. My opinion then was, there was hardly a legitimate farmer among the members of Congress.

A 2013 decision of the Supreme Court penned by Justice Antonio Carpio clarified: “National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent ‘any marginalized and underrepresented’ sector.”  This means, the SC upheld what the Constitution and the party list law intended the system to be: a system of proportional representation open to various kinds of groups and parties, and not an exercise exclusive to the so-called marginalized sectors.

Ever since, 20% of the members of the House of Representatives is composed of party-list groups.

But Philippine politics has a way of mangling even the noblest of intentions. In the case of the party-list system, Rappler found out that at least 46 of the 134 participating in the 2019 polls have at least one nominee linked to a political clan or a powerful figure in the country. Check out our findings here.

Grim as it may seem, though, choosing that one party is still vital. With the right choices, we can make the party-list system work. Let’s do it. – Rappler.com 

Here are more stories about the party-list system:

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It will go live as soon as precincts close at 6 pm Monday, May 13.