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Party-list Babel

May 6, 2010

By creating the Party-List System, the framers of the Constitution technically converted the Congress to a political battleground where socio-political gangs compete for political power government favors, protection and largesse. In effect, this mediocre system is an invitation to organized political mafias who vie for congressional seats . It also serves as a political security to whoever wields enormous political power.

One of the most interesting and intriguing biblical stories is about the Tower of Babel. According to the Christian holy bible, when

144 party-list groups vie for political power this May 10 polls.

144 party-list groups vie for political power this May 10 polls.

the whole earth was of one language, the envious Gods in the heavens decided to balkanize the earth by confounding the people’s language in order to create confusion and destroy the then ongoing construction of the Tower of Babel.

In Genesis 6:1-9, the Lord said to his heavenly comrades: “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.  So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.  Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

That ungodly act led to the destruction of the ambitious ancient Tower of Babel (if it indeed existed at all), as the people during that biblical epoch fought against each other due to the god-engineered ‘linguistic’ confusion that destroyed man’s thought.

But there’s an ongoing ‘political’ confusion that is not only out to pervert the country’s electoral process, but to also confound the voters’ value judgment and perception. It started with the creation of the 1987 New Constitution that  justifies the introduction and political perpetuation of multiparty and party-list systems. The first- the multi-party system- is a departure from the American-inspired two-party system that started during the commonwealth era, wherein political control was fought fiercely between the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party. The second- the party-list system- is a new constitutional creature that was envisioned to “promote proportional representation in the election of representatives in the House of Representatives”, hence the creation of Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as An Act Providing for the Election of Party-list Representatives through the Party-list System, and Appropriating Funds Therefore.

Section 2 of the Act states, to wit:

Declaration of Policy- The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.

According to this Act, any organized group of persons may register as a party provided that it belongs to or represents any of the following sectors: labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals.

In my opinion the Party-list System is just one of the constitutional by-products of the rise of liberalism and New Left activism over the past four to five decades. Liberalism and political activism exponentially grew during the term of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Although the late strongman claimed martial law was intended to quell creeping communism in the country, his fascist rule produced the opposite, as he instead radicalized the people, particularly young people, and drove them to go underground, which led to the formation of socialist-inspired counter-revolution and counter-propaganda aimed at the Marcosian dictatorship. The fall of Marcos was said to have averted the continued rise of socialism during the early period of 1980s, as the United States chose to intervene and then installed Corazon Aquino as the country’s revolutionary president.

But the seeds of liberalism and New Left activism began to sprout during the term of former President Aquino. During that period the country saw a new society clamoring for ‘social justice,’ the consecration of public good or common good, and some other populist ideals that would shape the future of the country. The revolutionary administration of an inexperienced public leader began to draft a new constitution that establishes the Philippines as a “democratic and republican State”, where “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.”

However, the constitutional phrase “democratic and republican State” is a contradiction in terms. Republicanism, which means a constitutionally limited government of the representative type created by a written constitution, is incompatible with democracy, which means rule by omnipotent majority. The purpose of Republicanism is to delegate political power to elected government representatives and to protect individual rights, while the purpose of Democracy is to devolve political authority to the hands of the majority wherein there is no protection against its  unlimited power. Another important distinction is this: Republicanism is a form of individualism, while Democracy is a form of collectivism.

I believe that those who drafted the 1987 Constitution were motivated by the anti-ideologies of egalitarianism, political correctness and progressivism. The party-list system is just one of the results of these three altruist-collectivist ideologies.

I have stated in my blog entitled Why the Philippines Doesn’t Need Edsa the following:

Unknown to many, the 1987 Constitution was shaped by the following anti-ideologies that are now delivering the Filipino nation to complete collectivism and dictatorship: political correctness, progressiveness, and egalitarianism. The logical effect of these three enemies of reason and individualism is this dominant culture in this country— the culture of mediocrity.

Political correctness is the very idea that led to the insertion of statist, anti-individualist provisions in the Constitution, such as the multi-party system, the partylist system, the so-called protection of “indigenous cultural communities that legalizes racism,” protection of women, the youth, the minorities, the underprivileged, among others. This social cancer of political correctness is now eating at the core of our society. It exalts the weak, protects the underprivileged, and empowers those who are poor in both body and spirit; while it kills the hero in man and that it sacrifices the men of ability, the productive and the successful.

Progressiveness is an evil idea that is bringing the country toward complete collectivism and dictatorship. It demands not equality of rights and opportunities, but equality of economic outcome or results. This is the very idea that is empowering labor over production. It demands that those who produce be sacrificed in the name of ‘common good’, that those who earn more be compelled by law to give more, and that those who create wealth be treated as mere slaves.

Egalitarianism, on the other hand, is the belief in the equality of all men. It is the altruists in this country who distorted the meaning of equality. To the altruists, equality refers to metaphysical (reality), not political equality. The altruist proponents of this anti-concept (egalitarianism) are out to distort reality in the name of equality. They want everybody to be rich, productive, and endowed with positive physical traits through the employment of government force. The ultimate results of this evil idea are the pro-poor agrarian reform programs, the anti-capitalist labor laws, and the edicts intended to redistribute wealth. In a free society, equality, in a human context, is a political term, which means equality before the law and equality of rights.

Indeed, this new constitutional creature reflects the socialist character of the New Charter, and its purpose s to encourage various social groups to fight for their social causes in Congress. The intention of the framers of the charter in inserting this provision may be noble, but it seems that they failed to grasp the nature and purpose of the legislature. The purpose of the legislature is to legislate or enact laws for the protection of individual rights; that the laws it about to pass must not favor one group of people to the disadvantage of other social groups. By creating the party-list system, the framers technically converted the Congress to a political battleground where socio-political gangs compete for political power government favors, protection and largesse. In effect, this mediocre system is an invitation to organized political mafias who vie for congressional seats . It also serves as a political security to whoever wields enormous political power.

Also I stated in my previous blog entitled Legalized Political Balkanization: Why the Philippines Is Doomed to Failure:

I do not believe that the youth must be represented in Congress. Likewise, I disagree that social sectors like women’s group, peasants, laborers, overseas workers, and professionals need a seat in the Lower House to fight for the interests and welfare of their members. I believe that the proper function of the legislature is to promulgate and enact laws for the protection of individual rights, and I disagree with the contention that party-list representatives have the responsibility to look after the welfare and sponsor the interests of their sectoral members. What we have today in Congress is legalized political balkanization wherein the standard of value is bizarre collective welfare.

In a free society run by rational statesmen, the only standard of value is the individual. No one has the right to corner or collect government favors and no one must be deprived of his right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. If one group takes government favors, such act is tantamount to the deprivation of the right of other groups. It is not proper for a government to distribute largesse to privileged groups just because they have the number, or to minority groups just because they are discriminated, weak and ignored.

Like the biblical Tower of Babel, the framers of the Constitution acted against reality, as they confounded the electorate in this country by adopting a mediocre system. This year’s election we see various clusters of political thugs that attempt to maximize their degree of political power through the party-list system. One cluster belongs to the socialist/communist camp that fielded a number of leftist party-list groups, such as Gabriela, Bayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, and Gabriela, which were all identified as “front organizations” of the National Democratic Front. Some leftist party-list groups also include Kabataan Party, Akbayan, Bayan Muna, Makabayan, Anak Pawis, Katribu, Akap Bata, Sanlakas, ACT, Suara Bangsa Moro, PMP, Migrante, Courage, Partido ng Manggagawa, and Piston.

Another cluster is said to have formed by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is running for Congress, to ensure the continuation of her power if elected as one of the members of the House of Representatives. There’s a circulating e-mail that exposes a number of party-list groups whose nominees or officials have links to the First family or the Arroyo administration.

These so-called Arroyo “front” party-list groups are as follows:

Ang Galing Pinoy—Supposed to represent security guards, tricycle drivers and vendors but its first nominee is Mikey Arroyo.

1-Utak—Angelo Reyes is supposed to represent the transport sector but he was the drivers’ nemesis when he headed the Department of Energy.

1st Kabagis—An Ilocano party-list group that claims to advocate for “widening the segments of economic development.” Jose Singson Jr., brother of Deputy National Security Adviser Chavit Singson, is its second nominee.

Aangat Tayo (AT)—Its president is Teddie Elson Rivera who is a PITC vice president. PITC is a government-owned international trading company and was designated as the key agency in the implementation of GMA’s “10-point legacy.”

Abono Party-list—claims to represent the agricultural sector. Its first two nominees are Robert Raymund Estrella and Francisco Ortega III, both hailing from prominent political clans allied with the administration. Its third nominee is Jacky Rowena Lomibao, wife of former PNP chief Arturo Lomibao.

ABOT Tanaw—Its first nominee is Gerwyn See, son-in-law of Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino (see BIDA). Second nominee is Mario Cornista, chair of the board of directors of BIDA.

Ahon Pinoy—This is backed by Dante Ang Sr. (appointed by GMA as chairman of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas and CEO of Manila Times) and its nominee is his son, Dante Ang Jr.

Akbay Pinoy—This group is member of Sigaw ng Bayan, which was accused by Makati residents of manufacturing signatures for the GMA administration’ s People’s Initiative.

Alliance of People’s Organizations (APO)—Its first nominee is Arroyo ally and former Ilocos Rep. Salacnib Baterina.

Anak Mindanao—This was suspected to be a part of the “dagdag-bawas” operations in previous elections, when it was discovered that some precincts had more votes for party-list groups than the actual number of votes cast. Anak Mindanao was among those that received the highest number of votes.

Ang Kasangga—The group claims to represent micro-entrepreneurs. Its current representative is the First Gentleman’s sister Marilou Arroyo who withdrew her nomination, which only means some other Arroyo crony will replace her. Other nominees are Teodoro Haresco (PNOC board member) and Eugenio Lacson, both of whom are multimillionaires with links to the Arroyo administration.

APOI—Its first nominee is Maj. Gen. Melchor Rosales, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense and also a DILG undersecretary.

ASSOCIATION of Labor and Employees (ALE)—Supposed to represent workers, but its first nominee is Arroyo ally and Pampanga provincial board member Catalina Bagasin who owns a cargo forwarding company and its second nominee is Erlinda de Leon, GMA’s first cousin who served as special assistant to the President.

Babae Ka!—This has too many ties to GMA. It was also a member of Melchora (Malayang Babae para sa Cha Cha at Reporma).

Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA)—A “brainchild” of Efraim Genuino, chair of Pagcor, its nominees include his daughter Sheryl Genuino-See and Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio.

BIYAHENG PINOY—An association of tricycle operators run by Arsenio Abalos, brother of former Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos.

Buhay—Its nominees are father and son Mike and Rene Velarde who supported GMA in the last elections.

Butil—One of the winners in the last elections whose representative, Benjamin Cruz, co-authored House Bill 3339 which, if passed, would impoverish the sector it claims to represents: the farmers.

KABAYAN—This group claims to represent transport sector workers, farmers and fisherfolk, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, anticrime crusaders and overseas Filipino workers, among others. Its nominees include Ron Salo, former subordinate of ex-Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

KAKUSA—Its chairman emeritus is Romeo Jalosjos.

PACYAW—The group claims to represent urban poor youth and has tourism Assistant Secretary Janet Rita Lazatin (member of Lakas-CMD from Pampanga) and former Los Angeles consul Reynaldo Pineda (based in Pampanga) as nominees.

Since it takes a rigorous constitutional revision or amendment to scrap the Party-List System, the best way to protect our rights is to vote for “right” the party-list group- or not to vote a party at all. But for those who would like to vote, don’t forget the word BANTAY!

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