Thursday, May 18, 2006

Party list Paradox

The Party list System Act (RA 7941) was enacted to 'promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives.' The law aims to enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties to contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation and to become members of the Lower House.

But how marginalized really are these party list groups?

Apparently, most of them, which are supposedly representing 'the poor and the marginalized,' have millionaires as their representatives. Worse, of the 21 sectoral representatives in Congress, 16 or three-fourths qualify for this distinction, with seven of them registering a net worth of more than P10 million.

Listed below are the richest party list representatives in the 13th Congress (I only got the top 12):

Rep. Rene Velarde, Buhay - P30.9 million

Rep. Acmad Tomowais, Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino (ALIF) - P29.4 M

Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay, Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE) - P25.7 M

Rep. Sunny Rose Madamba of Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) - P19.2 M

Rep. Joel Villanueva, Citizen?s Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) - P18.3 million

Rep. Edgar Valdez, APEC - P11.93 M

Rep. Ernesto Pablo, APEC - P10.1 M

Rep. Florencio Noel, An Waray - P8.4

Rep. Christian Señeres, Buhay - P7.3 M

Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Alagad - P6.6 M

Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, AKBAYAN - P6.3 M

Rep. Guillermo Cua, Coop-Natco - P4.8 M.

In this list, two are sons of well-known and powerful tele-evangelists, Rep. Velarde of Buhay and Rep. Villanueva of Cibac.

Rep. Tomowais of ALIF, the second richest party list lawmaker, is actually representing the whole sector marginalized national minorities, while Rep. Magsaysay of AVE, the third richest sectoral representative is representing the poorly paid teachers and professionals in the education sector.

Rep. Noel of An Waray, on the other hand, is representing the Warays of Easter Visayas, one of the poorest regions in the country.

Rep. Marcoleta of Alagad is actually representing the urban poor. In fact, his party list's battle cry is 'Kaagapay ng maralita, para sa maralita.'

Meanwhile, all of APEC and Buhay's representatives, three and two respectively, qualified in the list of the richest party list lawmakers. APEC representatives' combined net worth amounts to P 41.23 million while Buhay lawmakers' net worth is P 38.2 million.

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