Duterte wants next admin to abolish partylist system
President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the abolition of the partylist system under the next administration, saying the mechanism is being used by leftists to deceive and destroy the government.
Speaking during a meeting with some cabinet members last Wednesday, Duterte claimed leftist groups have not done anything but to trick the government.
"I recommend the abolition of the partylist (system). It is being used. Although they are...a few, but still, they participate in the government that they wish to destroy. It's ridiculous. They enter the government, they participate in the governance process and yet...what they really want is to destroy that government and replace it with theirs," Duterte said in Filipino.
"The partylist system has to be scrapped by the next president. It would be as good as any other time to initiate whether to convert Congress into a constituent body or call for a constitutional convention but which is very expensive to do," he added.
The partylist system aims to allow Filipinos belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors to become members of the House of Representatives. The system was created by the 1987 Constitution but its enabling law was enacted in 1995. Under the 1987 Constitution, partylist representatives shall constitute twenty percent of the total number of representatives.
In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the partylist system should not be limited to marginalized groups, and must be opened even to political organizations regardless of size.
Critics claim that the system is now being used as a backdoor to Congress of rich and influential politicians. Duterte has also assailed the system in one of his previous speeches, calling it an "evil" system financed by the rich and exploited by generals involved in narcotics trade.
But Duterte's criticism of the party-list system is not limited to the alleged participation of the wealthy and those with links to illegal drugs.
Last March, Duterte accused party-list groups Kabataan, Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and Gabriela of being legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the political arm of the communist rebels. He had also claimed that communists are using government funds to support armed rebels.
The President did not present evidence to support his accusations. The six party-list groups have denied Duterte's allegation, dismissing it as an effort to intimidate groups critics of the government.
Duterte claimed barangay chiefs and watchmen are being killed in areas with strong communist presence.
"If you are not a sympathizer (of the rebels), they would really kill you," the President said.
In the same meeting, Duterte said amendments to the constitution should be passed during the early part of the next president's term.
"There is really a demand of the moment, the changes in the Constitution, whether you want to convert it into a federal...it should be started immediately," the President said.
"If you do that when you are about to step down, they will say that you want to change some provisions in the constitution to allow you to run," he added.
The shift to a federal form of government was one of Duterte's campaign promises in 2016.