Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brilliantes Jr. knows what he was saying when he described our party list system as a big joke. It is sad that a novelty of the 1987 Constitution intended to increase the representation of the marginalized groups in our society has been bastardized by trapos.
And no, it is not just the trapos affiliated with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, led by ex- presidential son Mikey masquerading as a representative of security guards, that has done it injustice. It now also includes the party of presidential mouthpiece Edwin Lacierda, the Black and White movement composed of five persons, who but for one (who was removed), are already in government.
Almost all of the party-list representatives, with the exception of the Bayan Group and Akbayan, are 24- karat multi-millionaires. Worse, the so-called marginalized groups represented in Congress include regional parties already represented in Congress, and sectors which in no way can be described as marginalized, including but not limited to electric cooperatives, LPG suppliers etc.
Worse, the trapos have also resorted to the party-list system as a more economical way to firm up dynasties: the Velascos allegedly of Marinduque but our neighbors in Pasay, the Banals of Quezon City, the Ruiz clan of Cebu, to name only a few.
I am hoping that finally, the length of the Smartmatic ballot will be dramatically shortened with the Comelec denying accreditation to an overwhelming majority of these party list groups.
Brillantes should be more vigilant against allies of the President attempting to be accredited under the party-list system, as their very existence is a disservice to the “mastoid an dean” mantra of the President. For Lacierda’s party to be accredited as representing a marginalized group would be a black eye to President Aquino given the moral majority’s outcry when Mikey Arroyo successfully duped the constitutional body that he was representing security guards.
Let’s not allow the Black and White Movement—unless it purports to represent bygone singers from an equally bygone era—dupe the nation into believing that it can represent other marginalized sectors of our society.
Moreover, the Comelec should not construe the Constitution in a manner contrary to human experience. If the party-list system is to help the marginalized sectors have a bigger voice in governance, all their representatives should also be from the marginalized sector that they are purportedly representing. We should not allow again the farce of a presidential son purportedly representing security guards, in the same way now that Leah Navarro, a long time Forbes Park resident and Kabataang Barangay officer of the said village- is now purportedly representing the urban poor sector. The point being that perhaps with the President having set very high moral standards in governance, it is high time that everyone, even those parading as his loyalists but whose actions betray his moral high ground, should no longer be allowed to make a mockery out of this very noble intentioned party-list system.
The furor over the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 continues.
I joined Alexander Adonis, the Davao-based journalist who spent two years in jail for libel, and veteran journalist and blogger Ellen Tordesillas et al in asking the Supreme Court to declare specific provisions of the law as being unconstitutional.
These include the law’s provisions making electronic libel criminal, imposing a higher penalty for it of up to 12 years imprisonment compared to libel under the Revised Penal Code which is punishable only with up to six years of imprisonment, the possibility of being subject to double jeopardy as the law sanctions conviction under the RPC and under the law, and the draconian powers granted to the Department of Justice to act as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and executioner.
As a result of the ongoing “cyber-revolt”, it is heartening to know that politicians may still be swayed by public opinion. Almost all of them, with the exception of Senator Tito Sotto, have expressed the intent to revisit the law. Even Justice Secretary Leila De Lima swore that her department expressed reservations with the provisions that we have claimed are unconstitutional.
What is disheartening is that despite all these, Malacanang, at least according to Undersecretary Abigail Valte, claims that it thoroughly studied the bill before the President signed it as law. That’s not exactly what we the people expected of a President who still enjoys unprecedented public support. We expect to see a veto, and not a signature, when a protected right such as that of freedom of expression, is infringed upon by legislation.