Learning Sessions on Charter Change and Federalism

Second in a Series


“Electoral System Reform and Design”

29 May 2018 (Tuesday), 9:00am-2:00pm

Speaker Montilla Hall, Southwing Annex, House of Representatives




This forum was the second in a series of learning sessions on Charter Change and Federalism, jointly organized by the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD), Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), and International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). Held on 29 May 2018 at the House of Representatives with the theme, “Electoral System Reform and Design,” the forum aimed to discuss the imperatives for electoral reform under a federal set-up and how these reforms can promote effective participation in our democratic processes.


In his Opening Remarks, Dr. Romulo E. M. Miral Jr. of CPBRD underscored the link between development outcomes and the kind of political institutions of a country. Problems of patronage politics and political dynasties are reflective of extractive institutions, or of a centralist state. He stressed that electoral system as an institution should undergo reforms in order to promote inclusivity and address development constraints. In his introduction of the forum and speakers, Atty. Benedicto Bacani of IAG emphasized the critical role of electoral system reform and design in the charter change process.


Dr. Paul Hutchcroft of Australian National University provided the context and principles of electoral system reform and redesign. Citing the case of the Philippines with strong patronage politics, he observed that the various electoral arrangements resulted in the perpetuation of weak and incoherent political parties. One case is the voting for President and Vice President from different political parties. Another issue is the multi-member plurality system which leads to intra-party competition. He further emphasized the importance of understanding the pre-existing conditions and the underlying political institutions in order to recognize and anticipate unintended consequences. He concluded that adoption of a more party-centric electoral system in the Philippines could change the political system, which in turn will contribute to the country’s development.


Executive Director Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) discussed the problems under the country’s current political system. On the premise that the 1987 Constitutional regime failed in broadening participative democracy, he argued that the elitist system resulted in the over-concentration of powers at the presidential and national levels. According to Director Casiple, the presidential system has to be reviewed, and political parties should be strengthened and developed as mechanisms of representation and democratic governance. He stressed that political parties should be considered as public institutions and shall be given state subsidy so they can be independent from financiers, and personalities within the parties.


Dr. Julio Teehankee, a member of the Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution, presented the emerging proposals on federalism and political reforms, and the bases for such considerations. One is through incorporating in the Constitution an anti-political dynasty provision with clear definition, given the absence of an enabling law. He explained that the problem with political dynasties is the concentration of political power on a family/clan which has an impact on public service. He also stressed the need to strengthen political parties which can be done through instituting reforms on party registration and administration. He also added that reforms on party-list system were introduced particularly on proportional representation, increase in membership, and allocation of seats for the marginalized sectors. Party-list groups would now be reclassified as political parties. On campaign finance reforms, one proposal cited is the provision of subsidies through tax credits.


Dr. Socorro Reyes of the Center for Legislative Development focused her discussion on the gender perspective in electoral system redesign, and stressed the importance of understanding what works for women. According to Dr. Reyes, the electoral system does not guarantee women’s equal representation in legislatures and other elective bodies, but it is important to improve the system to ensure women’s political participation, by considering reforms such as proportional representation, large multi-member districts, and high party thresholds for women.

Several key points on electoral and political reforms were raised during the open forum:

·     Most electoral system reforms will require Constitutional amendments, however there are reforms, like the political party reform, which can also be legislated. Since there is a move to change the Constitution, making this part of the Constitutional reform package would ensure strengthening of political parties.

·     Political dynasties exist because of the current political environment and the socio-economic problems in the country, such as poverty and lack of education. Though there may be good dynasties which are supported by the electorate, the problem lies on the centralization of power. Thus, in the federalism proposal, the anti-dynasty provision is introduced in order to regulate incumbency advantage.

·   Behavior of political players to switch parties (political turncoatism) is also another problem which is hazardous to political parties. There is really a need to institute party discipline.

·    Among the specific points raised which can be considered in the electoral reform include: the review of election law to address the issue of premature campaigning; that there should be no property/fund requirement for candidates; the introduction of a 2-round ballot system (majoritarian vs. pluralist system); jurisdiction on electoral cases; and the need for creation of electoral courts. 


The key message from the forum is the needed reform to the country’s electoral system, and to strengthen political party system to improve participation in democratic processes. 


9:00 AM - 9:30 AM                  Registration
9:30 AM - 9:40 AM



Director General

CPBRD, House of Representatives

9:40 AM - 9:50 AM

introduction to the Lecture Series

Atty. Benedicto bacani

Executive Director

Institute for Autonomy and Governance (AIG)

9:50 AM - 10:50 AM


Strong Patronage, Weak Parties: The Case for Electoral System Redesign in the Philippines

DR. PAUL HUTCHCROFT, Professor of Political and Social Change

Cora Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University


Key Political and Electoral Reforms in the Philippines

MR. RAMON CASIPLE, Executive Director

Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER)

10:50 AM - 11:50 AM Open Forum
11:50 AM - 12:50 PM


Emerging Proposals on Electoral System Reforms and Design


Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution


Gender Perspective in Electoral System Redesign

DR. SOCORRO REYES, Senior Regional Governance Adviser

Center for Legislative Development

12:50 PM - 1:50 PM Open Forum
1:50 PM - 2:00 PM Closing



OIC-Director, Budget Policy Research Service