Bayan Muna out, as 'questionable' party-list groups dominate 19th Congress

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 27 2022 06:33 PM

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate attends a press freedom event on Februrary 28, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/file
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate attends a press freedom event on Februrary 28, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — For the first time in 20 years, longtime party-list group Bayan Muna won’t sit in Congress. It failed to get one of the 63 seats allocated for the party-list system in the 19th Congress, based on the number of votes cast in Halalan 2022.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate recalled Bayan Muna first joined Congress in the 2001 elections, in which it had clinched the top spot, giving it 3 seats in that race. Since then, Bayan Muna and its Makabayan bloc had been consistent “fiscalizers” and critics of all administrations that sat in the Palace.

For its outgoing representative, Bayan Muna’s loss can be attributed to the consistent red-tagging and vilification from the government on one hand, and the entry of “questionable” party-list groups on the other.

“Buong makinarya ng estado ay ginamit para i-villify, siraan, subject to black propaganda and red-tagging and disinformation,” Zarate said.

“Ito ‘yung election din, especially sa party-list, na napakaraming pinayagan na party-list groups na lumahok sa halalan, ang mga dynasty ay nagtayo na ng kanilang mga party-list groups. Even doon sa mga traditional areas na kung saan din kami ay may malaking boto nakukuhaan, kinopo na ito ng big families, big political and economic interest groups, mga negosyante, mga contractors,” he added.

Zarate blamed a 2013 Supreme Court ruling for opening the floodgates of the party-list system.

“Isa sa talagang nagpaluwag dito sa pagpasok nitong mga grupong ito is ‘yung decision noong 2013 ng Korte Suprema na sinabi doon ang party-list system is also open to other political parties, regional parties at ‘di lang ito sa marginalized sector,” Zarate said.

“They gamed the system. May mga party-list na nagsubmit ng nominees nila na ‘di natin kilala ang nominees pero after na iproklama ay napag-alaman natin nag-resign daw ‘yung mga nominees na ‘yun at pumalit ang mga anak ng pulitiko, pamilya ng mga pulitiko,” Zarate explained.

Over 170 party-list groups were accredited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to run in the 2022 party-list elections.

Danilo Arao, convenor of election watchdog Kontra Daya, said their research showed that a majority of party-list winners in the elections do not represent marginalized sectors.

“When we compared it with the data set that we have, it appears that 9 /10 are actually belonging to party-list groups that are not truly representative of the marginalized and underrepresented,” Arao said.

“It’s either they are part of political clans, they are part of big businesses, they may have dubious advocacies, they may have incumbent officials for party-list nominees or their party-list nominees may have pending cases, so there are problems with the party-list system right now and I think the composition of the 63 seats would be telltale signs of the bastardization by the rich and powerful of the party-list system,” Arao added.

He said that some party-list groups claim to be representing the marginalized and underrepresented, "but they’re just using these... sectors to fulfill their own agenda."

“What agenda is this? They would want additional seats in Congress. Sometimes the father or the mother would be the congressional district representatives or local officials and they would want party-list representatives as additional votes for whatever measure they may want to have or perhaps they would want more allocation to their pork barrel,” Arao said.

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