Renato Tibon .
REPUBLIC Act 7941 (signed into law on March 3, 1995) provides for the election of party-list representatives coming from the marginalized and underepresented people in the community including labor, urban poor, indigenous groups, women, youth and other such sectors (except the religious sector). Through a system of proportional representation, voters choose from Comelec-accredited party-lists rather than among individual candidates. Twenty percent of the total seats in the House of Representatives (HOR) are reserved for party-lists which are entitled to a seat for every two percent of total national votes cast up to a maximum of three seats.
Party-lists perform a myriad of vital functions while introducing legislations through their nominees/representatives in tandem with counterparts in the Districts and/or representing component sectors nationwide through social programs that address their immediate and long term needs. Notwithstanding several issues that undermine their existence in the HOR, Party-lists were shown to be just as effective in passing laws that benefit constituents. Most of these issues particularly in the qualifications of Party-list groups were however resolved through the intervention of the Supreme Court.
Abante Mindanao (Abamin) is one among 42 party-list groups who won a seat in May 10, 2010 and re-elected in 2013 elections represented by its first nominee, Rep. Maxie B. Rodriguez. Representing the less fortunate sectors of society, Abamin was able to extend assistance in several provinces around Mindanao and other areas through programs in health, education, livelihood, public service, scholarships and infrastructure. Among the notable accomplishments of Abamin are 736 House bills and resolutions introduced during the 15th and 16th Congress awaiting enactment; health initiatives where 48,864 patients obtained medical services and point-of-care Philhealth benefits; education programs with over 23,500 “education grantees” in all public and private schools in Mindanao who were given scholarships from 2010-2013; livelihood projects for 8,043 families in different income-generating ventures; infrastructures such as rehabilitation of barangay halls, construction of farm to market roads, overpass, highways, bridges in Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon and Surigao provinces in Caraga Region including some areas in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur; and public service programs such as donations of computer sets to schools, street-lightings at secluded sitios, drainage and public water system at different municipalities, wheelchairs for PWD and agricultural implements. Over 80,000 families were likewise given services from DSWD such as food, transportation, interment and other basic social services through the initiatives of Congressman Maxie Rodriguez.
Abamin’s loss in 2016 has brought dismay and untold suffering for those who have no access to government facilities and services especially in far-flung municipalities and barangays. Despite this, loyal coordinators maintained their presence in areas contiguous to Cagayan de Oro City where the congressional office is located and sought assistance as needed. This has been generously addressed by Rep. Maxie Rodriguez who by then was already representative of the second district of the city. Thus, many were still able to access significant amount of grants, medical assistance and continuing public service.
As was shown in the recent National Convention of members held on Oct. 20, 2018 at Chali Beach Resort, Abamin was able to gain adherents judging from the number of participants who attended despite its inactive status as a party-list in Congress. It was also an opportune time to meet its nominee in the person of Rep. Mary Grace “Jing” Tiukinhoy Rodriguez who assured members of continued and better access to essential services as their Representative in the HOR. Due to strong clamor coming from all supporters nationwide, Abamin vows to campaign hard in the coming elections and extend its reach through massive information drive especially in the tri-media.
While awaiting enactment of the amended provisions to proportional representation made better through revisions of the 1987 Constitution as proposed by the 2018 Consultative Committee which drafted a Federal Constitution, Abamin will continue to serve as a party-list we all need.
(Renato Gica Tibon is a fellow of the Fellowship of the 300, an elite organization under Centrist Democracy Political Institute [CDPI] with focus on political technocracy. He holds both position as political action officer and program manager of the Institute. He is the former regional chairman for Region 10 and vice president for Mindanao of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines [CDP].)