Sunday, July 29, 2001

Noted Decision of the Philippine Supreme Court

The Philippine Supreme Court recently released a ruling (OFW v. Comelec et al. and Bayan Muna v. Comelec et. al. June 26, 2001) that the Philippine style party list system is open only for the marginalized sectors of society such as labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals. The decision clarified the concept created under the 1987 Constitution where people could vote for parties and not personalities. The system was supposed to make 20% of the Philippine Congress to be composed by these underrepresented sectors of Philippine society. The Philippine elite messed it all up when it succeeded in lobbying the Congress and Comelec to allow any organization or party to run for elections regardless of the status of the lives of their members. Thus, in the last Congress even a bloc of rich coconut landowners managed to get a seat. My goodness! At least, the decision has settled the matter and has put back in place one of the notable legacies of the 1986 Philippine EDSA Revolution. An excerpt of the decision goes like this,

"The import of the open party-list system may be more vividly understood when compared to a student dormitory “open house,” which by its nature allows outsiders to enter the facilities. Obviously, the “open house” is for the benefit of outsiders only, not the dormers themselves who can enter the dormitory even without such special privilege. In the same vein, the open party-list system is only for the “outsiders” who cannot get elected through regular elections otherwise; it is not for the non-marginalized or overrepresented who already fill the ranks of Congress."

The complete text is found at the Supreme Court website.

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