Monday, April 30, 2007

The wretched of the party-list system

If socialites, desiring to promote a better understanding of their lifestyles often calumniated in less perfumed circles, choose to contest the party-list elections together with such groups as Akbayan and Bayan Muna, should they be allowed?

Discounting the fact that there's a precarious line these days separating the socialites from the socialists, the relevant Supreme Court ruling in Bagong Bayani v. COMELEC succinctly states that the socialites cannot. No chance, sorry, the party-list system is only for the underrepresented and marginalized. Also, an hacienda landlord cannot be a representative of a group purportedly representing plantation workers.

The demand of some groups for the COMELEC to disclose the names of the nominees of the parties it approved under the party-list system is therefore only reasonable following the Supreme Court's Bagong Bayani interpretation.

The problem however is that some people, including those in the COMELEC, don't buy the ruling that the party-list system is reserved solely for the marginalized sectors. As Dr. Bernas points out today (although in not so many words exactly), the 1987 Constitution does not reserve the party-list system solely for the marginalized sectors and that the Supreme Court may have erred in the Bagong Bayani case.

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