With 34 unopposed congressional bets, Buhay party-list Rep. Joselito Atienza on Sunday backed the return of the two-party system in Philippine politics to restore checks and balances.
The large number of congressional and local candidates running unopposed in the mid-term elections had brought to light the country’s “dysfunctional” democracy, he said.
“Having a lone candidate for an elective post is bad for voters who are left with no choice. It is also bad for the government and for our system of checks and balances, and bad for our political parties as well.”
The 34 congressional bets running unchallenged are Neptali Gonzales II of Mandaluyong City; Dale Malapitan of Caloocan City; Wesley Gatchalian of Valenzuela City; Abraham Tolentino, Strike Revilla, Luis Ferrer IV and Alex Advincula of Cavite; Danilo Fernandez of Laguna; Joaquin Chipeco Jr. of Calamba City; Resureccion Acop of Rizal’s Antipolo City; Henry Villarica of Bulacan; Cristina Garcia of Bataan; Charlie Cojuangco of Tarlac; Mario Mariño of Batangas; Franz Alvareza of Palawan; Mark Enverga and Angelina Tan of Quezon and Junie Cua of Quirino; Pablo Ortega or La Union; Elias Bulut of Apayao; Ramon Nolasco Jr. of Cagayan; Arnulfo Teves Jr. of Negros Oriental; Maria Lourdes Arroyo, Leo Cueva and Jose Benitez of Negros Occidental; Vincent Garcia and Isidro Ungab of Davao City; Corazon Malanyaon and Joel Mayo Almario of Davao Oriental; Lorna Bautista-Bandigan of Davao Occidental; Ruwel Gonzaga of Compostella Valley; Jose Tejada of Cotabato; Manuel Zubiri of Bukidnon and Bai Rihan Sakaluran of Sultan Kudarat.
There are also many candidates for governor, mayor and other local posts who are running without rivals, Atienza said.
“Just like in business, competition is absolutely necessary to provide consumers―in this case voters―greater freedom to choose and t encourage fair play,” Atienza said.
“What is happening now is that many candidates are just negotiating among themselves with the stronger ones usually buying out their weaker rivals. That would just become merely talk.”
Atienza said there was a need for the return to the two-party system, wherein two major political parties dominated the government.
“As long as we have at least two dominant parties all the time, it is okay to have multiple political parties, Atienza said.
“In the old days, under the two-party system before martial law, there were no unopposed candidates at all.”
The two dominant parties then―the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party―had to put up candidates no matter what, he said.
“They each had to look for and field candidates for every post. If a candidate withdraws for any reason, the party had to designate another runner.
“Nowadays, it is possible for an exceptionally strong and popular candidate to run unopposed. This is not possible under a two-party system.”