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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Back to two parties

"We should also abolish that anomaly, the party-list system."

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If there is one significant aspect to the 2019 midterm elections, it is the fact that the Senate has become a popularity contest.

Voters also cannot distinguish what one candidate stands for from what the opponent advocates.

The fact that the Otso Diretso candidates all lost in the senatorial race attests to the reality that our kind of elections has gone to the dogs.

Look how Lito Lapid easily won without any radio and television commercials.

When Lapid was a senator, he confessed that he did not know what was happening at the Senate sessions. He could not interpellate, much more engage in debate. He was a non-performing senator, and yet he is back!

It’s worse at the local level. Some candidates in President Duterte’s narco-list won.

The worst thing that has happened to Filipino voters is that the main consideration they have in mind is that some candidates running for mayor, governor and congressman are easy to approach in times of need. It does not matter of they are corrupt or are drug lords.

The bastardization of the party-list system is the best proof of the need to return to the two-party system, like the Nacionalista and the Liberal Party. This is so voters can choose wisely.

The worst anomaly in the 1987 Constitution was the adoption of this system. Records showed it was a copy of the German Constitution, based on a parliamentary system of government. But here the parliamentarians lost by one vote.

History also tells us that Cory Aquino wanted a party-list system so she could accommodate friends of her late husband from the communist movement. This is why so-called militant groups became fronts of the communist movement and included themselves in the parliamentary struggle. And there are so many of them!

Two things must be done to enable voters to choose the better candidate. One is to return to the two-party system. The second is to abolish the party-list system.

* * *

The big question for the newly elected senators is this: Can the Senate ever be independent?

This is with the President’s favorite candidates Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino being part of the winning circle.

I think the Senate has always been an independent institution and it should remain so.

That is the challenge now. Despite the fact that there will only be four oppositionists, I am confident the Senate can still be independent.

Once a senator gets elected, he or she should have in mind the greater good for the greatest number. He or she will swear to defend and protect the Constitution, no matter who is president.

Will Bong Go continue to be an alalay of Duterte? Will Bato be dictated on by the President? Will Tolentino perform his duties according to conscience?

* * *

Now that President Duterte has a clear majority in the Senate, will the Upper Chamber say yes to all his priority bills?

The passage of the Death Penalty Law, for instance, is so controversial that seven out of 10 Filipinos reject it. Catholic bishops will surely oppose this measure. There is no empirical proof that this would stop criminals from doing their worst.

* * *

The next thing after the elections is this: Who will be the next Speaker of the House? Rep. Gloria Arroyo is outgoing.

There have been many names—former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Lord Alan Velasco and Martin Romualdez.

I don’t think anybody can match the credentials of Romualdez, who is also president of the Philippine Constitution Association.

As for the Senate, I believe Tito Sotto will continue to be Senate President since he is doing well. If his colleagues opt to replace him, their choices would be among Cynthia Villar, Ralph Recto, Sonny Angara or even Dick Gordon.

* * *

So have dynasties come to an end? I don’t believe so. I think they are just being replaced by other dynasties.

But I don’t think there is anything wrong with dynasties so long as they are doing good for the people and the people want them.


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