Comelec disqualifies 17 party-list groups
Trike drivers, ex-drug addicts first to be cutBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Groups representing habal-habal (extended-capacity tricycle) operators and drivers, former drug addicts, peace advocates and banana farmers were among the first to fall as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reviewed the eligibility of organizations seeking accreditation to run in next year’s party-list elections.
Early results of the review released by the Comelec on Friday showed the commission had disqualified 17 organizations from the elections for not meeting the standards for party-list groups set by the Constitution and the Party-list System Act.
Among these groups were the Addicts and Alcoholics Carrying the Message Association, the Asosasyon ng Mangangalakal (Askal) and the United Philippine Transport Tricycle, Trisikad, Habal-Habal Operators and Drivers Association.
The Comelec is reviewing the qualifications of organizations seeking party-list seats in the House of Representatives to eliminate dubious groups organized by politicians and wealthy, influential people to advance their political interests.
In a recent interview with the Inquirer, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes described the party-list system as a “joke.”
With illegitimate groups infesting the party-list system, multimillionaires sit in the House as nominees of parties that claim to represent poor sectors of society. In reality, those sectors are not members of the groups and do not know the nominees.
Two hundred eighty-nine groups are seeking accreditation to run in the elections next year, Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said in a recent interview with the Inquirer.
One hundred sixty-five of those groups are new, Sarmiento said.
Brillantes said he was aware that many of those groups were organized by the wealthy who had handpicked nominees who were either former government officials or members of powerful political clans.
To clean up the system, the Comelec passed a resolution to authorize a review of party-list groups, with a view to disqualifying those that do not represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors the law allows to have seats in Congress.
Those sectors are labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, the youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals.
The election watchdog Kontra Daya has compiled a database of dubious party-list groups and submitted it to the Comelec to help cleanse the system.
In addition to the groups mentioned earlier as having been disqualified, the following also failed to meet the mark: 1-Aangat Ka Pinoy, Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation, Aksyon Mahirap, Aniban ng Magtutubig ng Pilipinas, Aurora Integrated Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Ang Nagkakaisang Alay sa Bayan ng Maka-Diyos at Makabayang Nangangalakal, Sararong Bicolnon, Ako at ang Basura Movement, Alliance for Democracy and Morality-Bantay Pasahero, National Crusaders for Peace and Democracy, Mindanao Allied Forces, Vendors Aggrupation, Philippine Banana Pioneer Foundation Inc. and Bangon Mangingisda.
The Comelec’s First Division and Second Division carried out the review that resulted in the disqualification of the 17 groups.
Full list of rejects
In his recent interview with the Inquirer, Brillantes said the Comelec would issue a motion listing all the qualified party-list groups ahead of the five-day filing of certificates of candidacy, which begins on Monday.
But Sarmiento said on Friday that with the deliberations still going on, the full list may be released in the second week of October.
“There are a lot of groups that filed their intent to run in the 2013 elections and there are a lot of issues among ourselves (commissioners) that are still up for discussion,” Sarmiento told the Inquirer by phone yesterday.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 9513, groups that have been accredited at the division level will be automatically reviewed and affirmed by the full commission.
Meanwhile, disqualified groups may appeal their rejection to the full commission.
Abuse of system
Also on Friday, Kontra Daya filed a disqualification complaint in the Comelec against Ang Kasangga Party-list, whose current representative in Congress is businessman Teodorico Haresco.
In its petition, Kontra Daya is also asking the Comelec to deny the nomination of Haresco or his possible replacement, Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez.
“Kasangga Party-list is one more proof of the abuse of the party-list system by the rich and the powerful,” Fr. Joe Dizon, a leader of Kontra Daya, said in the petition. “We are filing this complaint with the hope that [the] Comelec will seriously cleanse the party-list system,” Dizon said.
Documents submitted by Kasangga to the Comelec showed Haresco as one of the wealthiest party-list representatives in the House, with a net worth of P92.814 million, as shown by his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth for 2011.
In Kontra Daya’s complaint, Dizon pointed out that Haresco owned many businesses, including Winace Holdings Philippines Inc. and Winsource Solutions Phils. Inc., with P150 million in combined paid-up capital.
“Surely, he is not a marginalized micro-entrepreneur,” Dizon said in the complaint.
Kontra Daya also alleged that Ang Kasangga, formerly called “Kasangga ni Gloria,” was a group created by the Arroyos for the 2004 elections.
Kontra Daya said Kasangga’s first nominee then was the sister of the husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.
For next year’s elections, Kasangga’s nominees include Gwen Pimentel, sister of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, and Local Water Utilities Administration head Rene Villa.
As for Haresco, Kontra Daya said in its complaint that he “has managed to straddle . . . the Arroyo and the Aquino administrations,” a “sad commentary on the kind of politics we have in the country.”
First posted 12:03 am | Saturday, September 29th, 2012