Press Release
August 20, 2019

De Lima: Duterte Youth controversy underscores need to reform partylist system

The controversy haunting the Duterte Youth Partylist and its first nominee, Ronald Cardema, underscores the pressing need to pass a measure seeks to institute reforms to the current partylist system, according to Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima.

De Lima, a prominent election lawyer before joining government service, said the protracted issue involving the Duterte Youth Partylist is a clear case of exploiting the partylist system by known allies of the present administration to earn a seat in Congress.

"While its intent is laudable, the law has been bastardized by moneyed politicians and businessmen, and their dummies, in order to gain political power courtesy of the loopholes and weaknesses of the present partylist system," she said.

"Cardema's tussle with the Comelec is symptomatic of a weakened and abused partylist system that, in this instance, when he could not get his way to Congress, he would run to his political patron for extralegal intercession," she added.

Cardema, one of Mr. Duterte's staunchest supporters, has accused Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon for asking PhP2 million in exchange for its partylist's accreditation to participate in the last midterm elections.

To date, Cardema has yet to assume his post as youth partylist representative after Comelec's first division rejected his nomination for exceeding the age requirement between 25 and 30 years. His disqualification is still under appeal.

The lady Senator from Bicol explained that any attempt to circumvent the loopholes in the present partylist system can be nipped in the bud if her measure seeking to reform the partylist system will be enacted into law.

"The partylist system has become a notorious backdoor for wealthy has-been politicians and ambitious businessmen to gain political power. These abuses must end if we are to preserve equal representation of marginalized groups in Congress," she said.

This 18th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 372 which aims to reform the partylist system and ensure that only the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors of society are genuinely represented in lawmaking process.

De Lima's measure seeks to clarify the ambiguities conveniently used and circumvented by politicians with vested interests to make a mockery of the system and vault themselves to power.

If passed into law, the measure will clearly define the term "bona fide member" of a party to ensure that only those who genuinely belong to the marginalized sectors will act as their representatives.

De Lima also wants a partylist to be disqualified from participating in the election if all of its nominees become unable to assume their post as partylist representative after the campaign period begins.

To prevent political dynasties from bastardizing the partylist system, the measure will prohibit any person from being nominated as partylist representative if related by affinity or consanguinity within the third degree to an incumbent elected official.

This includes mayor, vice-mayor, governor, vice-governor, district representative, party-list representative, senator, vice president, and the president.

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