Evils of multi-party system


FAIR COMMENT | Alito L. Malinao

It is just an innocuous provision in the l987 Constitution but it has upended our political system and radically changed the way we choose our officials in every election.

This is the seemingly harmless provision found in Article IX-C, Section 6, of the Constitution: “A free and open party system shall be allowed to evolve according to the free choice of the people, subject to the provisions of this Article.”

According to the late Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, the 1935 Constitution and election laws until 1971 were seen as giving preferred position to the two major political parties, the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party.

In simple terms, the goal of allowing the emergence of several political parties was to democratize the electoral process and give people more leeway in expressing their choice. But it is not what is happening today.

What we have done is actually jumping from the frying pan to the fire.
The political parties that have mushroomed during the past have in effect made a mockery of our election process. Because now candidates can switch parties anytime or worse can use several parties for their political ambition. The multi-party system blew the gates open for the proliferation of parties of convenience or multiple parties without any vision or ideology.

The political circus that happened on November 13 is the best example of why the framers of our constitution were wrong in adopting the multi-party policy.

After publicly expressing his disappointment over his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio’s running for vice president instead of president, President Duterte opted to run for senator instead of for vice president as previously announced. Obviously, he does not want to run against his own daughter.

Duterte’s super alalay, Senator Bong Go, is now running for president instead of vice president, also an indication that he does not want to go against the president’s daughter.

It was not explained why Sara Duterte-Carpio decided to run for vice president instead of president when, according to her father, she was ahead in several surveys. After much hype and drama, she is now running for vice president under the Lakas-CMD with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos as her presidential candidate. Marcos is running under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

Another intriguing news was the decision of presidential candidate Panfilo Lacson to run under Partido Reporma, a moribund party founded by Renato de Villa, which he resuscitated. Originally both Lacson and Vicente Sotto, his running mate, announced that they would run under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) of which Sotto is president. Now the two are running under different parties.

It is also interesting to note that Vice President Leni Robredo abandoned the LP, the party under which she and Mar Roxas ran in the 2016 elections, and is running as an independent. What is even more intriguing is that Senator Kiko Pangilinan, who is LP president, agreed to run with Robredo as independent.

Is this open betrayal of the LP the reason why we haven’t heard Mar Roxas endorsing the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket?

With all these confusion and political circus, it is about time that we scrap the multi-party system, a legacy from EDSA, and revert to the two-party system.

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