This is good news for marginalized and underrepresented sectors in Congress under the proposed shift to a federal system of government.
The “Draft Constitution for a Strong and Indissoluble Republic” crafted by the Constitutional Committee established by President Rodrigo Duterte to revise the 1987 Constitution proposes to double the number of party-list representatives in the House from 20 percent to 40 percent of all seats.
This is a sound proposal as it would allow marginalized sectors to seek and obtain greater representation in Congress.
The 1987 Constitution limits the members of the House of Representatives to no more than 250, unless otherwise fixed by law, with 20 percent of the seats reserved for party-list representatives.
At present, there are 292 sitting House members, with 233 elected by congressional district (80 percent) and 59 party-list representatives voted nationwide (20 percent).
The actual number of House seats has surpassed 250 since 1987 on account of the passage of laws creating new congressional districts in provinces or cities with rapidly increasing populations.
The draft Constitution seeks to increase the number of House seats “to no more than 400, unless otherwise provided by law,” with 40 percent or up to 160 seats reserved for party-list representatives.
Under the draft charter, five sectors – labor, farmers, urban poor, indigenous peoples and fisherfolk – would be given increased proportional representation, with up to 80 seats reserved for them initially.
The draft charter provides that for three consecutive terms following its ratification, one half of the seats set aside for parties voted under the proportional representation system shall be reserved for the five sectors provided that they organize themselves as parties or coalitions of parties. The other half of the total seats allocated for proportional representation shall be open to all other political parties or coalitions.
We fully support greater participation by the basic sectors in lawmaking as this would lend substance to participatory democracy in the country.