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Republic Act 7941 and the party list which will promote the Spanish Language

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What are the chances of a party list group advocating for the return and conservation of the Spanish language to exist for the 13 May 2013 Philippine National Elections?

As I’ve written yesterday, the chances as of now are slim because, admittedly, I am not familiar with the processes on how to create such a party (I may need assistance from like-minded individuals who are also drawn to such political activities). I’m not even an influential person since I’m just an ordinary citizen, a wage slave struggling to survive the perils of a globalized world — and a neocolonized local economy.

Honestly, I don’t have political proclivities. I’ve been apolitical ever since my activist days. I didn’t even register for this year’s coming elections due to disenchantment with what they did to FPJ during the controversial 2004 Philippine National Elections. In one way or another, however, my political apathy is improper (oh my, that rhymes — there’s still an ounce of poetry left in me!). Aside from possibly disappointing my friend Mayor Calixto Catáquiz of San Pedro, La Laguna who is running for reelection, it would appear hypocritical of me to join a democratic system which I am cynical of. It’s not a matter of “what’s done is done”. In a way, this will allow me to “test the waters” firsthand, to see if the system really works, to check if it’s worth it, and more importantly, to disprove my cynicism once and for all.

I received an astute query from a Facebook friend of mine asking me what are the chances that this party list which I’m planning to create will be approved by the COMELEC. He also asked if Spanish-speaking Filipinos or other individuals/groups who want to reinstate the Spanish language can be considered as “marginalized and underrepresented sectors”. He was obviously referring to Section 2 of Republic Act 7941, which is “An Act Providing For The Election Of Part-List Representatives Through The Party-List System, And Appropriating Funds Therefore”:

Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.

Yes, possibly this party list group that I (together with some nationalist friends of mine) am planning to organize may not be considered to champion the interests of the “marginalized and underrepresented sectors” of society. But our group is concerned heavily on the cultural and patrimonial side of things. Also, I am counting heavily on the statement “organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole”. The only thing is, somebody should explain what type of “organization and parties” are allowed because it appears vague to me and not that “well-defined”. And besides, what should really constitute a “marginalized” group?

In Section 5 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is stated that:

(1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.

(2) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.

Widely read constitutional author Héctor S. de León, in his monumental Textbook on the Philippine Constitution (1997 edition, Rex Book Store), explained the aim of the party-list system:

The basic aim of representative government is to attain the broadest possible representation of all interests in its law and policy-making body. It becomes necessary to give an opportunity to the various social, economic, cultural, geographical and other groups or sectors of our society to have their voices heard. And because they are usually without sufficient funding or political machinery, it becomes incumbent upon the government to extend such opportunity without the need to go through on expensive electoral contest.

For this reason, the party-list system has been adopted in the new Constitution to assure them of representation in the highest lawmaking body of the Republic.

De León further stressed the need for sectoral representation:

Sectoral representation is necessary because it is almost impossible for, say a farmer, laborer or public school teacher, to win in an election. It will foster the rise of non-traditional, political parties and greater participation for various interest groups, not to mention genuine grassroots consultation. After three (3) consecutive terms, it is expected that enough of the people organized sectorally (e.g. labor, farmer, and urban poor groups) will be able to win seats in the House of Representatives under the party-list system and those who are not organized but wish to be represented in the House of Representatives will be forced to organize and, may be, coalesce with other groups in order to have representation.

In view of the foregoing (man, I’m starting to sound like some law geek already), this Spanish Language party-list group that I’m planning to organize might stand a chance. Paragraph 2, Section 5 of our constitution mentioned “such other sectors as may be provided by law”. I’d like to consider this group of mine to be included in those “other sectors”. Besides, the clamor for the return of the Spanish language has been gaining strength over the years. Aside from other factors, it can be construed that the BPO sector has a lot to do with it since it offers a bigger salary to those who speak Castilian (and other foreign languages aside from English). Based on de León’s words, it can be surmised that a party list group which will rally the cause of Rizal’s beloved language can be included in those “various interest groups”.

But like what I said, I’m not a law guy. I need legal expertise here.

Will such a party be considered by the COMELEC?


One response »

  1. How to create a political party:
    1- You need to establish the objectives of the party in a short and in a long term
    – Long term: establishment of spanish as an official language, and usage as a working/third language.
    – Medium term: ???
    – Short term:???

    Some ideas for the medium and short term:
    – Spanish compulsory subject all years in the secondary education in the whole country.
    – Spanish compulsory in all new memorials writtings ( statues, bridges)
    – Spanish back to the name of new streets.
    – Spanish back to the national broadcasting system ( a radio station 8 h/day in spanish, one or two TV program of 1h/week each about spanish).
    – Increase of the sales of the newspapers written in spanish ,first foreing ones (mexican, spanish), and later national ones.
    – A spanish-written section (1 page) in national newspapers
    – Openingo of spanish language academys in 12 main cities of the country.
    – Re-edition of filipino books written originally in spanish: Rizal, Ms Guerrero, Mr Gomez Windhman… and sell of them at bookshops.

    How to gain influence?
    1- Find people who join the cause, it is important to find three groups of people:
    a)People actively willing to contribute with their effort. 10 people will be enough for the begining.
    b)People willing to colaborate ocasionally. 30 people will be enough for the begining.
    c) People who support the idea, but are not willing to actively contribute, 200 people. These last ones are needed in order you can write their name in electoral lists, supporters….

    I think that 250 people is enough. Can you reach that number?

    Once you have this 10+30+210 I think the most easy to reach is to convince local newspaper to accept bilingual articles about the history of the city, building, or about an historical anecdote or notable people of the city. Usually local newspapers lack of news, and if someone (those from the a+b groups) are willing to fill every week, even, every day a page it will be wellcome in many newspapers. Just knock on the doors, but remember: bilingual articles (spanish-ilocano, spanish-tagalog, spanish-english) there is a lot material in good spanish already written, it is just to translate.

    If any of the party, with good skill in the language, is living in a very big city, opening an academy,perhaps this can be possible for one or two of group a) , but look at the good point this, the one who open a bussiness can also earn money.

    These I think are some of the first steps… find people and get more and more ideas… but remember start working not thinking in “official language now”, but building structures for the future.



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