“Maraming panloloko na ginagawa yung mga mayaman at makapangyarihan hinggil sa [party-list system] (There has been much deception from the rich and powerful regarding the party- list system)” said Assoc. Prof. Danilo A. Arao during the webinar titled “Let’s Party for Real: A Conversation about the Party List System” held on March 29 via Zoom and Facebook live.
The webinar, co-organized by the College of Development Communication (CDC), is part of the #UPLBSaHalalan2022 series tackling the most pressing issues in the upcoming national and local elections.
Arao is the Lead Convenor of Kontra Daya, an election watchdog civil society group formed in 2007. He is also a faculty member at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.
A bleak picture of the party list groups vying for seats in the Congress was presented in the recent study by Kontra Daya. Their study showed that 70% or 120 of the 177 total party-list groups included in the 2022 elections have “unclear or questionable” backgrounds.
According to Article VI, Sec. 5, No. 2 of the 1987 Constitution, “seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.”
This implies that the role of party-list groups is to forward the agenda of marginalized sectors. But Arao said that the provision “and such other sectors as maybe provided by law” is open to much interpretation. Ultimately, any group advocating for a particular cause, even if its members are not part of the marginalized sector, can enlist itself in the elections.
According to the study, 44 are controlled by political clans, 23 have connections with big businesses, 37 have questionable advocacies, 32 have connections with government or the military, 26 have incumbent officials running as nominees, and 21 have pending court cases and/or criminal charges.
Only 35 groups are “unflagged” or do not have any questionable backgrounds as proven by the readily available and transparent information that can be obtained on these groups at the time Kontra Daya was collecting data. On the other hand, there are 19 groups that were found to have limited or no data at all.
He pointed out that voters should think critically about what party-list group to vote for and look into the individuals leading these groups.
He added that party-list groups are the most neglected aspect of voting. Most of the time, voters forget to vote for a party-list group or fail to see this section in the ballot because the list of nominees are at the voting ballot’s back page. Some do not vote for a party-list group at all as there are so many to choose from.
He also advised the participants that voters can only vote one party-list group in the ballot. Shading more than one party list group invalidates the vote.
The #UPLBsaHalalan2022 series is part of UPLB’s efforts to promote responsible citizenship and democratic values during the election season.
The webinar was also part of Bantay Halalan Laguna, which is the extension and public service program that CDC spearheads every election season. Asst. Prof. Aletheia C. Araneta, chair of the Department of Development Journalism (DDJ) and Dr. Trina Leah T. Mendoza, chair of the Department of Development Broadcasting and Telecommunications (DDBT), are co-leading the program this year.