COMELEC bastardized Party-list accreditation | BICOL TODAY

COMELEC bastardized Party-list accreditation

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

Manila — Of the 185 Partylist who applied for accreditation to join the May 2019 midterm election after the October 2018 deadline which was ultimately trimmed to 134 by COMELEC, consist of legitimate groups representing various sectors as enumerated in RA 7941, the Partylist law, and in connivance with political families and business interest the poll body showed preference to the rich political families, Malacanañ base groups and bias to the un-moneyed sectoral groups seeking accreditation. It is therefore important to know more about the prevailing environment in the coming party-list election.

Glaringly it denied Aksyon Health Workers Party-List for their failure to prove that they belong to the marginalized sector though they represents health workers from the private and public sectors yet they gave a go to BHW (Barangay Health Wellness) Party-List, a parody of Barangay Health Wellness whose first nominee is Angelica Natasha A. Co bankrolled by Albay businessman Zaldy Co who also behind the AKO BICOL Party-List. It also dismissed the petition of the People’s Surge Party-List that represents victims of the disaster. On the contrary, accredited party-list groups of dubious intentions, credibility, and advocacies secured the much-sought accreditation. Three months before the national elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified three party-list groups belonging to the Makabayan coalition three months before the national election and qualified for the 2019 midterm election the AA-Kasosyo Party of Mocha Uson a blogger and former undersecretary of PCOO and Duterte Youth of Ronald Cardema, a true bloodied Duterte supporter and who happened to be the chairman of the National Youth Commission.

Only 59 seats are allotted to the party-list in the lower house to represent the marginalized labor, peasants, fisherfolks, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals. This becomes a crowded field given the entries of political families who took the party-list system as a shortcut to congress. They made the system a mockery of this noble intention as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. According to Kontra Daya more than half of those vying for a seat in congress via the party-list is political nominees of dynast families whose nominees are either their relatives, former public officials with an end term and business groups. The crop of party-list nominees for 2019 polls reflect this.

It’s a mixed bag – re-electionists, political dynasty, former congressmen and government officials, and legitimate members of marginalized sectors because of the loopholes in the party-list law which has not defined the term marginalized aided by the decision of the Supreme Court in 2013 that the party-list groups are not intended for the marginalized sector only. National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent ‘any marginalized and underrepresented’ sector,” the decision read.

Politics begets power and a stepping stone to bigger business interest and it tramples the concept of the party-list system as a means to empower the marginalized, under-represented sector. Political families do not contend with one elected position extends their political control by fielding relatives as nominees of a party list. According to current data the midterm election consisted of 49 party-list nominees fielded by political families, interest groups accredited by the commission. Fearsome if their parties garnered the 2 percent earned threshold votes for a seat they will take 83 percent of the allowable seats in congress out of the 59 seats. That is equivalent to 49 seats and the remaining 10 seats will go to the real marginalized sector.

In the moneyed party list, it includes 1-Pacman (One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals) whose nominee is Michael Romero- the richest congressman per his SALN in 2018 based on his net worth of P7.29 billion ($138 million) One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals, also called as 1-Pacman. Its representative and was also reported to have participated in an auction with a bid of P50 million over artwork in 2018. Romero is the chief executive officer of the Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc., chairman of the 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corporation and vice chairman of AirAsia Philippines.

Meanwhile, the second richest legislator in 2017 is also a party-list representative. Diwa Party-List (Dignidad sa Bawat Manggagawa) Rep. Emmeline Aglipay Villar’s reported net worth is P1 billion ($19 million). She is the wife of Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar. She is now with the Department of Justice as undersecretary after President Duterte appointed her last year.

These billionaires whose party-list groups claimed to be for the marginalized never spoke against anti-poor policies.

By allowing these party-list groups to run, Comelec does not only bastardize the party-list system but also proves itself to be biased and partisan, anti-poor and pro-rich labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals as the sectors that are allowed to participate. To the extent that the bills introduced the first batch of party list representatives reflected the concerns of their constituencies, one may say that the system is to a large extent “successful”.

Fast lane to Congress?

Names of some party-list groups – like Ako Bicol, Abyan Ilonggo, and Abante Mindanao (Amin) – are straightforward enough, as they represent a region or a group of people.

But if you go only by the name of at least 4 party-list groups, you wouldn’t know they have nominees from the same city, province or region. Incidentally, some of them are from political dynasties, too. Some are even incumbent elected officials.

Take the Kasangga sa Kaunlaran party or Ang Kasangga, for example. Its nominees hail from provinces in Western Visayas. The 1st nominee is Aklan Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo. Following her is former transportation undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, who is from Antique.

The rest of the nominees include Jose Ciceron Haresco, son of former Ang Kasangga representative and current Aklan Congressman Teodorico Haresco Jr.

Then there’s the Abang Lingkod party list, with its first 3 nominees all from Negros island: re-electionist Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano, current Negros Oriental Representative Manuel Iway, and Jeffrey Hidalgo, who lost in the San Carlos City vice mayoralty race in 2013.

Another party-list group, ADDA(Association for Development Dedicated to Agriculture and Fisheries) has nominees from Ilocos Sur. First nominee Grace Kristine Singson-Meehan is the daughter of Ilocos Sur Representative Eric Singson. Second nominee Jemarose Gomintong is a lawyer based in the province, 3rd nominee Leonofre Gironella is the former mayor of Salcedo town, while 4th nominee Chester Elaydo is the outgoing mayor of San Esteban town.

The first two nominees of the Serbisyo sa Bayan Party (SBP) are outgoing councilors of Quezon City: Ricardo Belmonte Jr and Dorothy Delarmente, both of the city’s first district.

Interest groups

Meanwhile, some party lists represent various interest groups, such as:

Alagaan Natin ang Kalusugan (Anakalusugan) – At least 3 of its nominees are affiliated with the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), an international inter-faith network

Confederation of Savings and Loan Associations (Consla) – All of its nominees are members, or are connected with, the Air Materiel Wing Savings and Loan Association Inc (AMWSLAI)

Guardians Brotherhood (1GB) and Katipunan ng mga Guardians Brotherhood (KGB)

Partido ng Bayan ang Bida (PBB) – Its 1st and 3rd nominees, Lorenzo Cadsawan and Roger Federezo, are with the FPJ for President Movement (FPJPM)

Talino at Galing ng Pinoy (TGP) – At least two of its nominees are leaders of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity

The first two nominees of Tanggol Maralita (TAMA), Darlito dela Cruz and Queen Ashley Ablan, are officers of HPI Direct Sales and Trading Corporation, a firm previously flagged by SEC in May 2015 for the unauthorized solicitation of investments.

In March, the National Bureau of Investigation charged 15 HPI executives, including Dela Cruz and Ablan – for allegedly duping their clients of over P1 billion through an investment scam.

Meanwhile, at least two nominees of One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals or 1Pacman, are connected with the “Pacman” himself, boxer, senator Manny Pacquiao. Two more nominees are top officials of ports industry company GlobalPort 900 Inc. The group claims on its website that 1Pacman is “for the poorest of the poor” and “a coalition of advocates for the marginalized and displaced in society.“

Its 1st nominee is Michael Odylon Romero, the CEO of GlobalPort 900, vice chairman of budget airline AirAsia, and team owner of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) team GlobalPort Batang Pier. Fourth nominee Marvee Espejo is GlobalPort 900’s chief finance officer.

That of CWS(Construction Workers Solidarity) is rumored as one of the Villar Partylist. Its first nominee is Romeo S. Momo Sr. a former Undersecretary of DPWH and a grand master of a masonic lodge. AGRI (Agri-Agra Na Reporma Para sa Magsasaka ng Pilipinas Movement) nominee is Delphine Gan Lee wife of businessman Wilbert T. Lee who is engaged in real estate development. While ANAKALUSUGAN(Alagaan Natin Ating Kalusugan) second nominee is former congressman Michael T. Defensor, a cabinet member of GMA and is connected to 19 board members in six different organizations across eleven different industries.

Belonging to this group is PROBINSYANO AKO, the first nominee is Rudys Caesar G. Fariñas I and the second nominees is Lira R. Fuster Fariñas, they are related to former house majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas now running as governor of Ilocos Norte. While LUNTIAN (Luntiang Pilipinas PartyLIST) took Ciara Anna G. Sotto as their second nominee who happens to be the daughter of Senate president Vicente Tito Sotto III.

INANG MAHAL (Ina na Nagmamahal sa Anak) on the other hand is closely related to Jose De Venecia former house speaker during the time of FVR.

Bonafide advocates

On the other side of the party-list landscape are bonafide advocates whose nominees are actively working in helping the marginalized with passion. Among them are Hope Hervilla, a citizen journalist and activist leader and founder of Voices of Hope writing about the aftermath and recovery in areas affected by super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. She is the 3rd nominee of Bayan Muna.

Sarah Jane Elago, 1st nominee of Kabataan party list is the president of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP).

There are also twelve parties belonging to the Makabayan block, it also includes an organization that is not political parties.

Taking their chances against the political dynasty party list, the moneyed and interest groups are the cooperative sector who are qualified to participate in the midterm election.

With the uncertainty of true advocates to win, the party list system was bastardized fully aided by the ruling of the Supreme Court and the cohorts at COMELEC. Remember the case of Mikee Arroyo representing the security guards on his entry in the party list game during the time of his mother? A classic case itself. []

Posted by on May 7, 2019. Filed under Headlines,Nation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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