Political parties required to have more women in new charter

MANILA A subcommittee of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution introduced on Thursday an aspect in one of its proposed provisions meant to require political parties to have proportionate representation of women among their candidates.

This is among the proposed provisions meant to strengthen Philippine political parties by introducing new blood in the country's current political party system.

Prof. Julio Cabral Teehankee, chair of the ConCom subcommitee on political reforms and leveling the political field, said his committee approved in principle last week this self-executory provision.

The ConCom is expected to vote on the wording of the provisions in an en banc session on May 2.

Another provision that is quite revolutionary is that we have mandated that political parties must have the proper and proportionate number of (women) candidates in every election be it barangay, SK (Sangguniang Kabataan), congressional or (local), Teehankee said in a press conference at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

We have a separate provision on gender representation, women. (This is) something that we have not had in this country despite the fact that we've already had two women presidents, he added, referring to former presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Teehankee said the subcommittee agreed to have at least half the candidates of political parties to be composed of women.

He also said that the subcommittee decided that instead of marginalized sectors organizing their parties like in the current party-list system, it wants to obligate all political parties both established and new ones to recruit members from the marginalized sectors (farmers, fisher folk, indigenous peoples, labor and urban poor) and the underrepresented (for instance, youth and persons with disability).

We also want to open our party system not only to the marginalized but to the middle class because the experience of other countries is you get a vibrant democracy if the middle class is active in your political life, Teehnakee said.

Another proposed provision, he said, will "promote the development of political parties as democratic public institutions.

Another important aspect is that the internal system of selecting candidates should be democratized.

In the past, political parties used to have their party conventions and they have primaries to nominate their national candidates. Nowadays, they just go to a hotel room or Balesin and decide who becomes the next presidential candidate, Teehankee said. "We should go back to the practice of having an open nomination system in which parties and those that would like to aspire for national position would go into some form of convention or primary to be nominated by your political parties.

The ban on party switching and the provisions institutionalizing and strengthening political parties including the anti-dynasty provisions will constitute a proposed new article in the Constitution to be called "Political Rights, Suffrage, and Political Parties".

Currently, we only have the article on Suffrage and Article IX-C in Comelec (Commission on Elections), which declares that the Philippines will involve a free and open party system. That is the only provision on political parties, Teehankee said.

He explained that in the new article his committee is proposing, there are two sections that provide the framework on Political Rights.

These two sections emphasize that every Filipino has the right to vote and to be voted and to participate directly or indirectly in government, Teehankee said. We include the existing provision on Suffrage but we expand it with a series of provisions that will focus on strengthening political parties and opening up our political parties to the marginalized and underrepresented.

The third part will cover the anti-dynasty provisions, which had been approved en banc last month.

Teehnakee said that the ban on party switching will be implemented ideally after the approval of the new federal Constitution. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency