SC ruling on return of elite into partylist system causes progressive uproar

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Supreme Court LEGASPI CITY, Albay (BicolToday.com/6-April-2013) – The Supreme Court’s decision allowing the political elite back into the partylist system, and disregarding its previous decisions disallowing the rich and powerful from running as Partylist candidate has drawn sharp reactions from the progressive partylist groups, reports reached BicolToday.com on Saturday.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares expressed shock at the sudden turn around of the Supreme Court in allowing the country’s political and economic elites into the party-list system and putting to naught various COMELEC decisions that had disqualified the rich and the powerful from running as a Party-list candidate.

“This sudden turn around is a complete shock considering that the Supreme Court has consistently disallowed the district congressmen and the rich from the party-list election since 2001,” said Colmenares, informing the online news.

He cited the case of Bagong Bayani and which was recently reiterated in the case of Banat, which surprisingly was also written by Justice Antonio Carpio himself,” said Rep. Colmenares.

“Under the Constitution, the party-list system was intended as a “social justice” tool to allow the poor to have a voice in Congress by allotting 20% of the seats for the marginalized and underrepresented. The (Supreme Court) decision essentially disregarded this social justice principle when it allowed the 80% district congressmen to join in the party-list elections,” said Colmenares. “Bakit pa tayo maghihiwalay ng 20% para sa party-list kung papasalihin rin lang ang mga district congressmen katulad ni Rep. Mikey Arroyo dito?”

“Affirmative action, or preferential treatment for the poor, is a recognized concept throughout the world in recognition of the fact that the poor cannot compete with the rich in the so called ‘level playing field,’” Rep. Colmenares added. “ In fact, the Supreme Court knows that social justice under the Constitution means that ‘those who have less in life, should have more in law’ because an equal playing field is always in favor of the rich and therefore not actually equal,” he said.

He explained the Court cannot seem to comprehend ‘affirmative action’ when it granted the rich entry into the party-list system. Parang si Manny Pacquiao pinalaban mo kay Mike Tyson sa boxing. Of course, the poor party-list groups are no match to the economic elites and rich politicians in any election. That’s why the poor are given the party list system because they cannot win in a district congressional election. ”

“But there is hope because the decision is not yet final. The COMELEC has been tasked to screen which of the disqualified party-list groups shall remain disqualified. The position of Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno is correct. Since the grounds for disqualifying these groups include other grounds such as failure to prove their advocacy for a sector, or violation of election laws, then these rich powerful party-list groups can still be remained disqualified for these grounds since the Supreme Court decision did not touch on these issues,” said Colmenares.

“So as far as their legal status is concerned, groups like Ang Galing Pinoy of Rep. Mikey Arroyo, and Abang Lingkod of the rich landlords of Negros like Rep. Albee Benitez and Board Member Patrick Lacson, the son of GSIS Chairman Bitay Lacson can still be disqualified. We hope the COMELEC will courageously stand pat on its decision. Otherwise, the party-list election will be in complete shambles. This could spell the end of that novel constitutional provision called the party-list system,” he said. [BicolToday.com]

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