Hontiveros opposes Duterte’s call to abolish party-list groups

Camille Elemia
Hontiveros opposes Duterte’s call to abolish party-list groups
Senator Risa Hontiveros, a former representative of Akbayan, says the system should only be reformed and not scrapped

MANILA, Philippines – Neophyte senator Risa Hontiveros, who entered politics through a party-list group, is against the proposal to abolish the system.

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte proposed the move, saying the system is only being abused by wealthy personalities to seek more power in Congress. 

“‘Wag po natin i-abolish ‘yung party list system dahil isa siyang binhi ng isa ring maayos at totoong political party system,” Hontiveros told reporters.

(Let us not abolish the party list system because it is a seed of a clean and legitimate political party system.)

While the former Akbayan representative acknowledged the loopholes in the system, she maintained it only needs to be reformed and not scrapped.

After all, she said legitimate groups such as Akbayan have pushed for significant laws on overseas absentee voting, reproductive health, and human rights, among others. (READ: Abolish us? Party-list representatives: ‘We’re not all bad’)

“Modesty aside bilang Akbayan na isa sa mga orig (original) at tunay na party list… of course, masasabi ko po marami na pong naiambag ang mga partidong nasa loob ng party list system,” Hontiveros said.

(Modesty aside because Akbayan is one of the original and legitimate party-list groups… of course, I can say that groups in the system have made great contributions.)

“I think ‘yung mga [party lists] na-earn po namin ang space namin sa House of Representatives kaya’t sana mabigyang daan ‘yung solusyon na sinusulong namin para gamutin ang mga naging problema in the past few years,” she added.

(I think party-list groups have earned their space in the House of Representatives, that’s why we hope that our solutions to the problems would be given a chance.)

Hontiveros also said Akbayan is against the inclusion of wealthy groups in the system. (READ: 2016 party-list nominees: Taking a ‘shortcut’ to Congress?)

“So talagang ‘yung pagpasok ng mga mayayamang grupo na ‘di marginalized, lalong ‘di naman underrepresented, ay isa sa mga klarong aberration ng party list system nitong karaan,” she said.

(The entry of wealthy groups that are not marginalized, all the more not underrepresented, is a clear aberration of the system.)

Reforms needed

Hontiveros said she is set to file a bill pushing for reforms in the system – the same measure Akbayan has repeatedly filed in the House of Representatives.

The bill, the senator admitted, would focus on how the Commission on Elections allots seats to groups and not so much on the prevention of abuses.

Hontiveros said she would propose that the Comelec “reinstate the threshold” for each party-list group.

“Mga reforms po tulad ng pag reinstate ng threshold na sinasabi, na ibig sabihin ang bawat party list party ay dapat mag-earn ng certain percentage ng boto para mabigyan siya ng seat or seats,” she said.

(Reforms like reinstating the so-called threshold, which means each party-list group should earn a certain percentage of votes before getting a seat or seats.)

She also seeks to remove the 3-seat cap, which only grants 3 seats to party-list groups even if they get more than 6% to 8% of total votes.

As for protecting the system from abuse by wealthy and powerful personalities and families, Hontiveros said groups in the system would be in the best position to guard their ranks.

“Nasa panig ‘yun ng partido. Dapat lalo naming pag-igihan ang pag-oorganisa, edukasyon, pag-mobilisa… para ma-temper ‘yung patronage-based, traditional politics,” she said.

(It’s on the part of the party-list group. We should intensify organizing, educating, mobilizing our ranks… to temper the patronage-based and traditional politics.)

But more than anything, Hontiveros said the state needs more long-term laws to protect the system from abuses. These include the political party reform bill banning political turncoatism and the anti-dynasty bill – measures which have been languishing in Congress. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com