Senate president Vicente Sotto III wants to change the partylist law to satisfy President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s desire to disallow groups wanting to overthrow the government to participate in parliamentary matters.
Unbeknowst to the good senate president, Sotto is reprising the role played by his ancestor during the First and Second Philippine Congress whereby aristocratic members of the country tried and successfully ousted so-called members of the Communist Party who were elected as representatives of the people. In 1950, Luis Taruc together with several other leaders formed the Democratic Alliance that campaigned and won seats in Congress. Roxas however, decided to oust them from Congress after accusing the DA of using strong-arm tactics just to win votes, see link: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2005/05/06/276486/luis-taruc-revolutionary-or-traitor.
For Sotto’s credit, however, his response to the Chief Executive’s desire is, short of exceptional. In my book, Sotto is now the consummate statesman, able to assert his will over other politicians like him.
Instead of confronting Duterte head-on, Sotto presented a more rational way of rebuking the proposal of charter change. Since Duterte and his political ally, Speaker Alan Lourd Velasco want to tinker with the Constitution with just a year left for Duterte, everyone knows that this is surely not the way to go especially now that the country is reeling from the dire effects of a pandemic. Instead of shoring collective efforts at helping the local economy back on its feet and normalize the social lives of the people, Duterte and his ilk want nothing more than satisfy their insatiable thirst for power by opening the Constitution up for amendments, or worse, change the political provisions of the Charter.
Anyway, Sotto must be reminded by his legal advisers that it is a requirement already set in stone by the Commission on Elections to never allow any organization to be recognized as a partylist group if such group advocate violence, or is being supported by foreign funds or pushes for a particular religious belief. The law already addressed the concerns made by President Duterte. Now, if they want the Makabayan Bloc not to participate in the election process, they must declare these organizations as illegal. If they do so, then, they would be violating the rights of people from organizing or expressing themselves.
How do you oust the Makabayan Bloc from the House when existing laws allow them to take part in the elections? Besides, why even think of ousting them when they are bound by the oath they took as members of Congress?