No party-list, just political parties in Federal gov't: ConCom

By Saul Pa-a

October 25, 2018, 4:26 pm

SANTA ROSA CITY, Laguna – There would be no party-list, just political parties in the Federal form of government, according to lawyer Susana U. Ordinario, a member of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to Review the 1987 Constitution.

Ordinario and Secretary Gary B. Olivar, former economic spokesperson of then President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and a fellow of the Center for Federalism and Constitutional Reforms of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), graced Wednesday afternoon’s media forum here.

The DILG hosted the forum as part of the Federalism Roadshow in the Calabarzon Region - made up of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon – which was held at the Paseo Premiere Hotel in this city.

Ordinario said the Federal form of government calls for party representation, not the party-list that is known today but parties, which have platforms that are geared towards good government, party discipline, membership, philosophies of operation as public institutions subject to audit by the government through the Commission on Audit (COA).

On the proportional distribution among parties, Olivar said five have been reserved for three successive electoral cycles to the identified marginalized sectors such as fisher folks, farmers, urban poor, indigenous peoples (IPs) and labor.

“The electoral cycles serve as windows for the marginalized sector to strengthen the political system by setting up strong and viable political parties. Meron silang quota for three elections,” Olivar said.

He said the party system avoids alienating the marginalized sector, improves the political system and these parties are meant to replace political dynasties.

“Merong partido dyan, even armed group na kunyari kumakatawan sa mga mamamayan, Peoples’ Power, People’s Party, let us see. Tumakbo kayo, pag hindi kayo manalo sa election cycle, my suggestion is sumurender na lang kayo at bumalik na kayo sa mainstream (there is a certain party, even an armed group that pretends to represent the people, People's Power, People's Party, let us see. You can run, but if you won't win in the election cycle, my suggestion is you just surrender and go back to the mainstream),” he said.

He said the party system aims to sustain a functioning political party to ensure a functioning democracy and that political parties will be receiving a democracy fund to be administered by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Ordinario, however, clarified that the funds for all the political parties would not be coming from the government but from people and corporations wanting to support the political parties or the President and Vice Presidential candidates.

She explained that the democracy funds are limited – between PHP10,000 up to PHP100,000 from individual contributors, and from PHP100,000 up to PHP3 million for corporations. These figures could be changed and all contributions to the democracy fund will be creditable to tax dues.

Meanwhile, on the declaration of a state of emergency, Ordinario said it is premised on widespread lawlessness and that power cannot be given totally and only to the President because it is dangerous.

“We do not know what the future will hold and we do not know what kind of President we will have in the future, so we have to set in place safety nets based on the 1987 Constitution,” she said, adding that the ConCom has added another ground in declaring Martial Law.

“Now, one of the strongest powers of the President is to take over a region in the event of a secessionist movement or a revolution from a regional state. Automatically, the President may take over even in a case where the regional governor or regional government is failing to protect its people and provide the services required for the people, and the Federal government may step in under a worsening situation to resolve the problem,” she added.

On the other hand, Olivar added that martial law may be declared due to widespread lawlessness, for instance in case of looting where the Regional Governor may request the central government for the national guards to provide protection for such actions.

“If there is breakdown in law and order in the Federal state, the President may declare Martial Law," Olivar said.

Ordinario also spelled out the ConCom’s task of ensuring the success of the shift to the federal system, including laying down the foundations of political, economic and social reforms as enshrined in the Bill of Rights; establish a strong center to make sure the Federal Republic will not be dismembered by the existence only of a weak central government; and that a central government must remain strong in order to hold the country together even if there are now different power centers around in the central government.

She added that ConCom has identified powers to be distributed to the federated states, except on national defense, foreign relations, banking, monetary and federal fiscal policy, international trade, among others, and ensure a smooth transition through the Federal Constitution’s transitory provisions. (PNA)