By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
A policy think tank base in Manila undertook a study about the loopholes in the accreditation and acceptance of nominees by COMELEC.
The loopholes are the fastlanes to Congress by interest groups and political families, come- backing Congressman, all aiming to take a shortcut to enjoy the benefits of the House.
The findings revealed an “all in the family”, private interest groups, former government officials, colorful personalities and bonafide advocates representing a less privilege sector. In 2013 the SC ruled that parties and organizations “do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent’ any marginalized and underrepresented’ sector” to join the party list.
The system of nominating for some groups is to replace outgoing nominee by their relatives, others are retired generals, while the working group of partylist are those who represent their sectors.
It revealed that Ako Bicol (AKB), a regional party is the political arm of a business conglomerate involved in construction and energy controlled by Zaldy Co, brother of Cristopher Co seeking a third term in Congress. They owned numerous business interests in Bicol region, particularly Legazpi City and its business crown is the Misibis Resort. Ako Bicol was labelled as an interest group not for its supposed sector to be represented, but for their own skins to whiten.
The regional partylist first entry in 2010 national election concentrated only on the bulk of the Bicol votes earning them three seats and the number one partylist at that time. Their second entry in 2013 with boasted ego lost a seat in the 16th Congress, its third nominee was the casualty. The coming election, they have the same people, Batocabe, Co and Barbin as their nominees, the same people since their entry in the partylist system.
Even inter-faith groups have their nominees (Anakalusugan) in the case of Confederation of Savings and Loan Associations (Consla), its nominees are members, or are connected with, the Air Materiel Wing Savings and Loan Association Inc (AMWSLAI).
The COMELEC also accredited a partylist with dubious reputation as the case of Tanggol Maralita(TAMA), two of its nominees are officers of HPI Direct Sales and Trading Corporation, a firm previously flagged by SEC in May 2015 for the unauthorized solicitation of investments. Their nominees were included in the NBI charged sheet for duping their clients of investments worth billion of pesos.
1Pacman, are connected with the “Pacman” himself, boxer, senatorial candidate, and Sarangani Representative 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.
Crowding among the nominees are former government officials, among them are ex-Armed Forces chief Victor Ibrado and former Negros Oriental vice governor Apolinario Arnaiz Jr. The listing at COMELEC includes celebrities and personalities. The group include Cesar Montano and lawyer Harry Roque and Evelyn Catherine Silagon whose link with Benajmin Abalos, the former Comelec chairman hugs the headlines.
The real advocates for their sectors welfare include COOP-NATCCO. Since their 1998 entry up to the present, collectively protected the interest of lowly farmers, fisherfolks and the rural entrepreneurs, the cooperatives. COOP NATCCO is up re-election. Their nominees are cooperative advocates and has championed its cause by amending onerous section of national laws. The welfare and value of its members is their top agenda. Their broad membership number is thirteen million