Friday, April 19, 2013

Party List 6: Discourse with Luie Guia

Today, the President announced the appointment of two new Comelec Commissioners, lawyers Luie Tito F. Guia and Al Parreño to replace retiring Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco.

Luie Guia is a friend way back in UP Diliman undergrad days in the 80s. He is also a friend in facebook, and we have exchanged ideas and debated several times, in a friendly and civil way.

Congrats Luie. I am sure you will retain your objectivity and independence in doing your work. This photo, I got it in his facebook wall, made by his other friends.

Ok, to the topic. About three weeks ago, before the Supreme Court ruled that the party list (PL) system is now open to people even if they do not represent any "marginalized sector", Luie posted his thoughts once again on the PL system, below. Posting this without his permission and I am sure that he wouldn't mind. I will post this blog article in his fb wall. Luie wrote:
I think that the true intent of the Constitution is to establish a partial proportional representation system in the House of Representative (20%) to allow even small parties (including those from "marginalized and underrepresented sectors") a better chance of being represented in the legislature. These small parties however should get enough mandate to earn seats. This is the essence of a party list system. Had the Constitution intended to establish RESERVED seat for specific sectors, it should have simply stated it considering that we have had experience in sectoral representation. The use of the term " party-list" is clearly intended to mean, first and foremost, a system of proportional representation. The Supreme Court decision in the Atong Paglaum case is, IMHO, more consistent with the true intent of the Constitution.
I replied with the following comments:

The purpose of a political party is to advance a particular political ideology, convince voters, then implement policies based on that ideology. Thus, a socialist party can have health socialism, education socialism, housing socialism, pension socialism, extend to other sectors and sub sectors. A liberal or conservative or fascist parties will also explain their respective ideologies. Those that lose means their ideology is non-attractive and/or marginal.

So when government further gives mandatory seat (at least 20% of the total seats in the HOR) to marginal groups proposing marginal or even lousy ideas, the burden is on the taxpayers and the various regulated sectors. By force and coercion, they have to finance those lousy parties with lousy politicians and lousy programs.

What particular, unique ideology is being advanced by about 10 national parties, about a hundred local parties, and about 150 party lists? There are only few political ideologies to advance -- socialist, communist, fascist, liberal, conservative, environmentalist, etc. I can count not more than a dozen. When parties expand and expand, their purpose is to dilute further the ideology-based parties and just to advance personality politics, patronage politics, clown politics, with only one thing in mind: Be in government and enjoy the tax money, perks, privileges, the power to regulate and coerce people to behave based on their grand if not idiotic central plans.

The purpose of the party list system is simply to further expand government in the Legislative branch, nothing else. The number of district based representatives is rising as a result of the rise in population.

There are NO "marginalized sectors" only marginalized individuals. Henry Sy and Fidel Ramos are senior citizens. Gloria Arroyo and Loren Legarda are women. Chiz Escudero and Bam Aquino belong to the youth sector. Danding Cojuangco is also a farmer. There are very rich and very poor individuals in all of these sectors. That is why PL is terribly wrong in theory, in concept, and is thus, terribly wrong in practice. It should be abolished in the next round of cha cha. It is a big historical mistake that only expanded corruption and rent seeking in PH society.

One more disadvantage of the PL system, additional work for Comelec. There are NO marginalized sectors and yet Comelec has to spend huge time and resources choosing which of those bogus marginalized groups are unreal or semi-real. If the PL system does not exist, Comelec can focus its resources on its original mandate of ensuring credible and honest elections from local to national positions. The number of poitical parties in the country in fact should shrink, not expand. From 300+ to perhaps only 10 or less. Marginalized groups should learn to coalesce with other marginal groups. Less ego, less opportunism, more consolidation of resources and ideology. Socialists should be proud of their ideology, not hide it in the form of hundreds of small parties.

Luie asked, “When you say the number of parties should shrink, how should that be done? Will you tell people not to organize parties because they do not espouse ideologies? who should be telling that to them?”

I replied that we can shrink the number of political parties in the PH by abolishing the PL system. This system alone results in the creation of possibly 500 new parties. After many of them were not accredited by Comelec, they simply died. Or the opportunists created new parties.

If the purpose of people in joining government is to "serve", they can actually do that even if they are out of government. Start a bake shop, a barber shop, an internet shop, etc., employ themselves, hire other people, give them jobs and make them feel useful and productive. If people are productive and self reliant, they depend less on politicians and welfare. The fact they can serve without asking for more taxes, more fees to support themselves, people already help other people keep money in their pockets.

Or if people really wish to "serve" via government and politics, let them refine and consolidate their advocacy for welfarism and populism, soft term for social democracy or socialism. If all the candidates say they want to extend "free education to college", "free medicines and hospitalization", "free housing", "free transportation" and so on, why can't they be in one political party putting candidates in all positions in LGUs, municipal councilors to Mayors to provincial board members to Governors, probably 20,000 positions for each political party. Then competing pol. parties can put up their own 20,000 candidates nationwide. Even assuming there are five of such parties, that's 100,000 politicians and candidates already nationwide. From only five parties, no need for 300+ pol parties nationwide, many of which are too weak and too focused on only 3 persons, like the PL system nominees. The PL system is simply the success of political opportunism and ego tripping by marginalized politicians with marginalized ideas and ideology.

Luie added, “Party building is never easy. It is hard work... Blaming a system that will tend to give smaller 'marginalized' parties better chance of representation for the proliferation of "opportunists" may have some basis. But I see it more a problem of implementation than of the system itself. In any case, as you pointed out, 'opportunists' eventually die."

"Party building is never easy. It is hard work." Precisely. Real "service" to voters by helping them articulate specific political philosophy that can apply to all sectors, is never easy. The multiplication of so many political parties, with special special thanks to the PL system, is an example that many politicians do not want hard work, they want short cut. They just promise all sorts of freebies, singing and dancing, and they have access to a slice of the P2 trilllion budget and rising every year.

See also:
Party List 2: Opportunism, 2004 Elections, December 12, 2005
Party List 3: Marginal Parties Should Aspire to Become Big, January 12, 2006
Party List 4: Why it Should be Abolished, August 04, 2011 
Party List 5: Why it is Wrong in Theory and Practice, September 30, 2012

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