Does knowing the names of candidates on the lists jeopardize the very concept of party-list representation? In an argument I have seen nowhere else, Alioden Dalaig, director of the law department of the Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec) says so. Further, he says:
The Philippines Party-List Law is certainly unusual. Some sources call the Philippines lower-house electoral system “parallel,” but it is not–at least in the usually understood sense of two tiers, one elected by plurality voting and the other employing the principle of proportional representation (with no linkage between the two tiers). A feature of Cory Aquino’s rather hastily assembled 1987 constitution, the electoral law for the lower house of Congress remains mostly plurality in single-seat districts. The party-list component that was added–shall I say grafted?–on to the existing FPTP system is, for reasons noted below, not PR, even for the small number of seats elected from party lists (twenty percent of all the seats in the lower house).
The Law is claimed to be a means of allowing “marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies” to gain seats if they clear 2% of the national vote. However, it sets a cap of a mere three seats that any of these parties may win (regardless of vote percentage).
Not exactly a mechanism for encouraging party-building or even approximating proportional representation. Rather, it would best be described as segmented representation–on both dimensions. On the interparty dimension, major parties (whether national or regionally concentrated) win seats in the nominal/plurality tier, while very small “parties” win (limited) representation in the party-list tier. On the intraparty dimension, given the weak organization of most Philippine parties, candidates are all important in the single-seat districts. But candidates in the party list tier are to be kept hidden from public view!
The party-list component in the Philippines is indeed an “anomaly in the Charter.”