THE Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives on Thursday called on the leadership to immediately tackle House Bill (HB) 242, seeking to restore the original purpose of the party-list system, which is to be reserved for the marginalized and underrepresented sectors.
The group made the call after proposals emerged to change or scrap the party-list system that was allegedly infiltrated by communist insurgents.
But for the Makabayan bloc, the Party-list System Act must be amended to ensure representation of the truly marginalized sectors such as labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals.
“There is an urgent need to restore the party-list system to its original purpose, which is to give the marginalized sectors representation and voice in Congress,” the bloc said in the explanatory note of HB 242.
The lawmakers pointed out that “there is a growing concern on the dominating entry of party-lists and nominees that are not truly representatives of the marginalized and underrepresented but are coming from powerful, economic, dynastic and political interests.
HB 242 proposes to strictly comply with the Constitution in reserving 20 percent of the House of Representatives to marginalized sectors by adding criteria for nominees. For eligibility, the bill requires the party-list and nominees to be proven in an “evidentiary hearing” by the Commission on Elections that they truly represent marginalized or underrepresented sectors.
The measure also prohibits a person occupying an “appointive or elective” position in the list of nominees of a party-list unless the person resigns.
The bill also prohibits as nominees persons who have served in elective posts from vice mayor to president; who are related to government officials; who have been appointed as bureau chief up to Cabinet members; who served as police provincial director or military commander and higher positions within five years of election; and those with income higher than the base pay of a party-list member of the House.
The Makabayan bloc is composed of six lawmakers from the party-list Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT Teachers and Kabataan.