Editorial: Cornering the margins-A A +A
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
THE scuffle yesterday between Akbayan and Anakbayan brings to mind a colorful Cebuano expression about irreconcilable differences: “Dili
mag-abot ilang sawog.”
Anakbayan is one of several groups that have asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify Akbayan from the party-list elections.
Its main argument is the fact that several Akbayan personalities now hold top positions in the Aquino administration. They include Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales, a former congresswoman; National Anti-Poverty Commission Chair Joel Rocamora; and Presidential Political Affairs Adviser Ronald Llamas. Another former Akbayan congresswoman, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquiel, is running for the Senate on the administration’s ticket. These officials’ rise in the administration’s inner circle, by Anakbayan’s reasoning, means Akbayan can no longer claim to be “marginalized and underrepresented.”
The Comelec, which has spent more than 10 years trying to untangle the party-list system, said it will not exclude parties on the basis of their political affiliations.
What it will exclude are parties that cannot show they represent or have organized any of the sectors mentioned in the party-list law (Republic Act 7941): labor, peasants, fishers, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, the elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals.
Does a party lose the ability to represent any of these sectors when its leaders gain more political clout? Doesn’t every political organization strive to gain more influence, in order that the changes it deems necessary become doable?
In countries where proportional representation has long been practiced, it is not uncommon for smaller parties to join either the ruling or opposition coalitions.
Joining coalitions doesn’t dilute their identity as a party, especially when the allies they choose fight for ideas that are consistent with their own. It means simply that they recognize a basic fact of political life: numbers matter.
Parties, especially parties from the margins, stand a better chance of pushing their legislative agenda forward if they find a sufficient number of allies among those already in or about to take power. One may see this friction between Akbayan and Anakbayan as a carryover from the divisions within the Philippine Left. But their squabbling shows, in part, why certain organizations remain stuck in the margins.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 17, 2012.