By Laurianne Batinga
The May 13 election is looming in, and, by now, you probably have your bets in mind. The positions up for election include Senators, House of Representatives, Mayor, and Vice Mayor. Sounds easy enough, right? But let's not forget that we're also given the chance to vote for a party-list. And in case you're just as uncertain as any as to what a party-list actually means and how to choose the right one, here are five things you should know about the party-list system:
1. WHAT is a Party-list?
A Party-list is a special system of voting in the Philippines that allows proportional representation, meaning votes are awarded to parties in proportion to the total votes they receive. You vote for the party and not for the candidate.
According to the Party-list System Act or Republic Act No. 7941, parties in the Party-list system represent the marginalized and under-represented sectors of our community.
Organized groups may register to become a party if you fall into one of the categories:
1. Sectoral Party - labor, fisherfolk, peasant, women, urban poor, youth, indigenous cultural communities, overseas workers, veterans, professionals, handicapped and elderly
2. Sectoral Organization – groups bounded together by similar interests or concerns
3. Political Party – group bounded by the same ideology
2. WHO becomes the representative when a party wins a slot in Congress?
Each party submits 5 ranked names to become their “nominees” who will eventually become the congressperson and represent the party in Congress if and when the party wins a slot. However, out of the 5 names submitted, only a maximum of 3 can get congressional seats. The extra nominees are substitutes if and when the first 3 cannot assume the post.
Congress allows 20% of the House of Representative seats for party-list representatives. A Party-list can get a seat by getting 2% of all the total Party-list votes. The rest of the 20% are distributed among those who got more than 2% of the votes for the other ranked nominees of the party to take a seat.
3. WHY vote for a Party-list?
A Party-list represents special segments in sectors that need special attention especially in legislation, or making laws. They champion bills that eventually turn into laws depending on their advocacy and policy as a Party-list.
The Party-list system in the Philippines has broaden the scope of what Congress represents from just district and community concerns to class, sectors, and special interests. This allows for a more holistic array of laws that pass through legislation by making sure everyone, and every concern, is aptly heard.
If you feel strongly about a sector, concern, profession, or political ideology, then you should vote for the Party-list that best represents that advocacy.
Party-list nominees who are able to get a seat in Congress enjoy the same responsibilities, benefits, and powers as an elected district congressman would. So don’t think that they are second-class congresspersons. They also sponsor bills and help them pass through legislation.
4. HOW do you choose a party-list?
The key is to do your research. There are currently 181 party-lists registered with COMELEC for the 2019 National Elections, but you can only vote for one. Try to remember the number of your chosen party-list when you go out to vote as this is listed in random and not alphabetically—the numbered spots are drawn per Party-list. You can also bring a sample ballot with you when you go out to vote, so make sure your chosen party-list is written there somewhere, too.
5. WHEN can I start choosing my party-list?
Mark your calendars as the 2019 National Elections is happening in just a few days on May 13, 2019. (Make sure you’re a registered voter!) You start choosing your party-list on the ballot before you choose your district representative. Before you vote for a party-list, you should know what groups are in the running and what they stand for. These organized groups will soon get a seat in Congress and represent and fight for your concerns to be heard, so picking a party-list should not be taken lightly!
The youth vote accounts for 32% or 1/3 of total voters in this year’s elections. Evidently, we have the power to change the discourse and alter the current turn of events in our country. Go out, vote, and start being the change that this country is destined to see!
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