THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS HAS virtually declared the party-list system a “free market” to include the ruling elite. Given Comelec Chair Jose Melo’s very “mata-pobre” (condescending) opinion that marginalized groups do not have educated leaders who are capable of leading their organizations, the party-list system has ceased to be a legal and humane intervention for the truly marginalized sectors of our society.
To minimize this obvious circumvention of the party-list system, we offer the following guidelines which may help voters distinguish the fakes from the genuine party-list groups:
1. If a party-list group has financial resources for TV, radio and print infomercials, beware! Funds donated to marginalized groups are reserved for specific projects—not for publicity.
2. Nominees of marginalized groups are usually selected by their own constituencies. They are supposed to be well-known leaders of their sector and therefore have no need for an expensive nationwide campaign.
3. Be wary of “instant” party-list groups invented from the alphabet. Chances are they are being used as doormats by ambitious individuals who want to gain entry into Congress and get their hands on the pork barrel.
4. Start doubting if the nominees of a party-list group are generous in spending organization money for their political campaign. As conduits of funding agencies, party lists are supposed to spend donations and grants received by them for livelihood projects, capacity-building and poverty-alleviation programs.
5. If a party-list group is closely identified with a particular political party or politician, it has dubious integrity and loyalty. Investigate their relationship before deciding whether to vote for it or not.
6. Industry groups or business associations do not fall within the purview of the party-list concept. They have the means to advance their interests by lobbying and articulating their views in mainstream media.
—EVA M. INCIONG,
retired chair, Rizpec Foundation for Sustainable Development, Quezon City