Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte: Charter Change needed to reform party list system

Aika Rey
Duterte: Charter Change needed to reform party list system

GOV'T MEETING. President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with key government officials prior to his 'Talk to the People' at the Malacañang Palace.

Malacanang

'Mag-asawa 'yan, anak, tapos party list kaniya pa. Itong nakita ko lang, hindi talaga maganda at mali ito,' says President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said that the next generation of elected officials should change the Constitution to end the abuse of the party list system.

Speaking at the inauguration of an evacuation center in Mataasnakahoy, Batangas, Duterte lamented the state of the party list system in the country. 

“What was conceived to be a mechanism to give the Filipino – the lowly Filipino on the streets– a voice or voices to be heard in the platform at the halls of Congress, wala eh (it did not happen),” said Duterte.

“Kung magdating lang ang panahon (When the time comes), I’m talking about the young ones – the mayor, the congressman – palitan ‘nyo ang Constitution (change the Constitution),” he said.

Just a week ago, Duterte was complaining about the communists “infiltrating” Congress through the party list system.

On Monday, Duterte also appeared to slam political dynasties. The President himself is the patriarch of a political dynasty that has gained a foothold in Davao City.

“You know, ayaw ko man. In the sense na if it were another setup or structure, mabuti talaga na iba naman – dapat iba na. Pero if we dwell on the present structure crafted in the Constitution, wala talaga. Walang enabling law na lulusot sa Congress diyan. Mag-asawa ‘yan, anak, tapos party list kaniya pa. Itong nakita ko lang, hindi talaga maganda at mali ito,” he said.

(You know, I really don’t like it. In the sense that if it were another setup or structure, it’s better that there is a different one – there should be a different one. But if we dwell on the present structure crafted in the Constitution, it’s going to be difficult, there would not be an enabling law that would be passed by Congress. The couple is there, the children, and then they also control a party list. What I see here, is not really good and it is wrong.)

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The President faulted the framers of the 1987 Constitution for the lack of foresight on the matter, saying that the rich gamed the system.

“Ang problema hindi nakita. I don’t know how bright or sobra siguro pagka-bright nila, hindi nila tinignan what will follow. Ang lumabas ngayon, ito na maski sino na lang lahat ng mayaman, buong pilipinas, lahat ng milyonaryo, may party list. Agawan sila ng party list. Yung ibang walang party list, binibinili nila,” Duterte said.

(The problem is that they did not foresee it. I don’t know how bright they are or maybe they are too bright, that they didn’t foresee what will follow. What happens now is that anyone who is rich, around the Philippines, all the millionaires, has a party list. They struggle for control of the party list. Those who do not have a party list, buy it.)

He said that it is easy for the rich to further enrich themselves in public office “if they want to” because of the current system.

“I’m not endorsing anybody. But as I said, if perchance there would be an opportunity for this country to have whether a Constituent Assembly in the Congress of Constitutional Convention, this Constitution, it makes it easy for people to become billionaires in public office if he wants,” he said.

Even as he talked about not wanting to have anything to do with dynasties, he said he is voting for his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte for the vice presidency.

Party lists have long been seen as a “backdoor” for political clans and powerful figures.

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In March, election watchdog Kontra Daya said that 7 ot 10 party lists have been “hijacked” by political clans and businessmen. For years, experts and groups have long advocated for party list reform.

Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that the President has already asked Congress leaders to look at amending the 1987 Constitution to reform the party list system. At the time, Duterte’s claim is that it is being abused by those linked to communist rebels.

Duterte has been targetting the Makabayan bloc in Congress for supposedly acting as fronts for the communist movement. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.