Friday, March 26, 2010

Commissioner Jose Melo v. Justice Jose Melo

Commission on Elections Chair Jose Melo recently gave comments that contradict a Supreme Court ruling in 2001 (Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Go! Go! Philippines, G.R. No. 147589, June 26, 2001). He opined that the President's son Juan Miguel Arroyo could be a valid nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, a party-list group that allegedly represents security guards. He added that limiting nominees to members of the marginalized groups is not wise. Tricycles drivers cannot be represented by one who did not finish high school; "they should have somebody to speak for them," he said. This is not the tenor of the Supreme Court decision in Ang Bagong Bayani.

In the 2001 Supreme Court decision, a majority of the Supreme Court, including then Justice Melo, provided guidelines for the COMELEC in screening party-list nominees. Among others, the Court said that:
...not only the the candidate party or organization must represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors; so also must its nominees. To repeat, under Section 2, RA 7941, the nominees must be Filipino citizens "who belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties." Surely, the interests of the youth cannot be fully represented by a retiree; neither can those of the urban poor or the working class, by an industrialist. To allow otherwise is to betray the State
policy to give genuine representation to the marginalized and the underrepresented.

His steroetypical views on tricycle drivers aside, Commissioner Melo's view clearly condtradicts the Supreme Court's pronouncement. It is also fraught with danger that can undermine the entire party-list system. What then will prevent every other politicians from creating their own party-list organizations and to return to Congress, say to circumvent the term limits for House Representatives? Could the Ayalas and the Villar's represent landless peasants? May the captains of industry represent the interests of labor?

The idea behind the party-list system is to allow marginalized and underrepresented sectors to articulate their own concerns in the course of national legislation. Commissioner Melo's views will negate this goal by allowing politicans to speak for these groups.

No comments: