THE latest data showing three party-list representatives landing on top of Congress’ richest list shows the “rich contradiction and poor execution” of the Party-list Systems Act, a poll watchdog group said Saturday.
“Given that three party-list representatives are among the 10 richest legislators, it is clear traditional politicians and political dynasties have benefited most from a Supreme Court decision four years ago,” said Kontra Daya convenor Associate professor Danilo Arao.
Among party-list lawmakers, fugitive 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Michael Odylon Romero topped as the richest member of the House of Representatives with a net worth of more than P7.01 billion.
A Manila court last January issued an arrest warrant against Romero for allegedly stealing P3.4 million from his family’s Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc.
“That the richest legislator is currently Rep. Michael Odylon Romero (1-PACMAN) with a staggering net worth of P7.01 billion makes a mockery of the Party-list System Act [Republic Act No. 7941] enacted in 1995,” he added.
Next to Romero in the richest list is DIWA Party-List Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, wife of incumbent Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, with P1.4-billion net worth, while Manila Teachers Party-List Rep. Virgilio Lacson comes at sixth with P7.68-million net worth.
While nine out of the 10 poorest legislators are also party-list representatives, the group called on the Supreme Court “to review its 2013 decision and reaffirm what then Justice Artemio Panganiban wrote as regards Bagong Bayani v. Comelec in 2001.”
The Supreme Court, voting 10-2-1 last April 5, 2013, reversed its earlier ruling on party-list groups, saying that “National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent ‘any marginalized and underrepresented’ sector.”
“The ruling elite, especially the political dynasties, should not appropriate the party-list system to add more seats among themselves, paying lip service to representing the marginalized and underrepresented. The party-list system belongs not to them but to those they claim to represent but continue to exploit,” Arao said.