Wednesday, May 11, 2022


The intent is clear. The party-list system, an innovative mechanism enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, aims to assure the various sectors of the Philippine society, particularly the disadvantaged groups, of representation in the highest lawmaking body of the Republic. 

After the 1986 People Power Revolution and the return to a bicameral Congress, sectoral representatives remained in the House but were appointed by the president from 1987 to 1998.

The party-list system is intended to democratize political power by giving political parties that cannot win in legislative district elections a chance to win seats in the House of Representatives. The 1987 Constitution mandates that party-list representatives shall constitute 20% of all seats in the House of Representatives.

On May 11, 1998, the first election for party-list representation was held simultaneously with the national elections. According to Comelec’s rules then, groups that received 2% of the total party-list votes earned one party-list seat in Congress, with additional seats for every 2% thereafter.

However, the Supreme Court has twice changed the formula for determining winning party-list groups: first in 2000 and then in 2009.

The high court has also gone back and forth on what constitutes a party-list group, originally ruling in 2001 that only those from the marginalized and underrepresented sectors could participate in the system but reversing this in 2013, deciding that organizations “do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent ‘any marginalized and underrepresented’ sector.”

Partial and unofficial tallies from the polls show that 1-Rider Party-list has amassed the second-highest number of votes in the Party-list race, next only to the Erwin Tulfo-led Anti-Crime and Terrorism Through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list.

Col. Bosita is the first nominee of 1-Rider, meaning his inclusion in the House of Representatives in the upcoming 19th Congress is assured.

With this development, Bosita is being greeted by his supporters and well-wishers on the Facebook page of Riders’ Safety Advocates of the Philippines (RSAP), which he founded back in 2016.

Tingog Party-List, which bats for the welfare of Eastern Visayas residents, landed in third place in the party-list race as of Tuesday with 98.09 percent of election returns processed.

Represented by Rep. Yedda Kittilsvedt-Romualdez—wife of House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez—in the current Congress, Tingog is guaranteed at least two seats in the House of Representatives by garnering 871,541 votes as of last night.

Unfortunately, what should have been a better-defined embodiment of the party-list system appeared to be the further source of controversies and ambiguities which necessitated judicial adjudication and interpretation.

This paper, by way of review of related literature, presents the intentions, as well as the apprehensions of those who drafted the legal framework of the party-list system, the difficulties met by the party-list contenders, and the legal issues that arose from the 1998 experience. With these, it is hoped that changes in the law and in the attitude of the electorate that will transform a well-intended mechanism into something that will truly work for the Filipino people, shall be realized sooner than expected.

As a result, the promise of democratization may be realized as the party-list system "encourages the formation of genuine political parties representing organizations and groups long-excluded from political process, armed with definitive sets of principles and accountable to their members.

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