Wednesday, March 18, 2009
LGBT sectoral representation in Congress: Too big a dream?
In response to the call of "new politics" in the country, the Party-list Law also known as Republic Act (or RA) 7941 was enacted in 1995. The passage of RA 7941 was in keeping with the Constitutional provision under Article VI, Section 5 that 20% or about 55 of the 250 seats in Congress must be occupied by representatives "elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.”
The main idea behind the party-list system was to level the political playing field, so to speak, particularly for so-called marginalized and under-represented sectors of society like peasants, women, farmers, fisherfolk, etc. Some form of this system is favored in some European states and elsewhere. With such a system in place, the political process is not left to be dominated by big political parties alone. Unfortunately, the implementing rules of RA 7941 are far from perfect and in the last elections in 2007, opened the law to abuse. The Commission on Election (COMELEC) allowed to run party-list organizations which in fact had ties to the big political parties.
The country is now gearing up for another election year come 2010 and Ang Ladlad, the national organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos plans to run once more after it was disallowed by the Commission on Election (COMELEC) in 2007 from seeking representation in Congress. In prepartion for the upcoming elections, Rainbow Rights (R-Rights) Project, Inc., a legal and policy think tank composed mainly of lesbian and gay lawyers, invites everyone to a forum on the party-list law this coming Saturday, 21 March 2009, 1-4 pm at the UP Film Insitute (UPFI) Ishmael Bernal Gallery. Entitled, Giving Voice to the Pink Vote, the forum is co-sponsored by Ang Ladlad and the UPFI and is open to all LGBT-identified and LGBT-friendly organizations and individuals who want to learn more about the workings of RA 7941. For inquiries, please call or text the current chair of R-Rights, Atty. Angie Umbac via 0919.354.0808.