Gloating Speaking about the SC decision on the Party-List nominees, Akbayan’s Walden Bello had this to say:
Akbayan second nominee Walden Bello criticized the Comelec for “wasting a lot of time” owing to its “obstructionist policies.” He also hinted their fears may have come true that many party-list nominees are closely identified with the Arroyo administration.
It appears that “Save time. See it our way” is Mr. Bello’s motto. Sad, really, since this implies that government agencies should fear taking unpopular stands, or that a position contrary to that supported by a few can be presumed erroneous simply because it is not universally accepted. This thinking I consider to be the waste product of bulls.
The Supreme Court has ordered the Commission on Elections to immediately disclose the partylist nominees, invoking the people’s right to information on matters of public concern.
The Court also affirmed that “determining the qualifications dealt with factual issues, which the Comelec was in a position to decide.”
The COMELEC will, of course, respect the Court’s ruling.
I can only hope that this doesn’t signal the beginning of the end of the party-list system as an alternative to personality politics. I mean, we can pontificate all we want about informed consent but the fact of the matter is, now, party-list groups will begin to realize that if they can attract a big enough celebrity to their cause, they can snare voters regardless of how shallow their advocacy actually is.
And think of what this ruling will do to the PL organizations that haven’t yet achieved celebrity status because of their militancy or skillful use of the media. With big names being attracted only to ‘big’ PL orgs, and with voters remembering or being impressed only with those big names, just how many elections will it take before smaller – less famous – groups start getting sucked into that whole ‘winnability’ mentality? And once they start thinking in such terms, how much longer will the integrity of the party-list system of representation survive?
While I must agree that people do have the right to be informed, and that an informed choice is the only kind of choice that is palatable, I must nevertheless express my belief that if we are ever to progress beyond personality politics, we must be brave enough to insist that – in the realm of party-list representation at least – personalities are insignificant. Certainly there will be those who abuse that kind of emphasis on PL org advocacies (isn’t that the bogeyman being bandied about nowadays?) but then again, what system is ever free of abuse? Are we not in a democracy where the very freedoms we cherish so much are the very same freedoms being exploited by those who desire nothing more than the obliteration of our democratic way of life? We must believe that the idea of personality-free politics is worth sacrificing some entitlements for the greater good that we are trying to achieve? We must trust that the system we put in place will work, and we must give it a chance to work.
Instead, we frustrate that system by introducing rules that undermine it’s raison d’etre. And in so doing, we create a new category of personality politics – one that is worse because of its self-delusion and hypocrisy. Sheep who, in aiming to protect the flock, begin acting wolfishly while loudly proclaiming that they are still sheep.
But of course, there must be respect for the wisdom of the Court.
And while un-surprised, I am sure that we are grateful that the Court recognized the COMELEC’s authority to decide the issue of qualification.