Former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser C. Pangandaman will be formally sworn in as a party-list representative this week by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte despite questions over his eligibility to the post.
A lawmaker and a former labor official claimed that Pangandaman’s assumption of the seat vacated by his brother, former AA-Kasosyo Representative Solaiman Pangandaman, was a mockery of the party-list system and a ploy to obtain parliamentary immunity from the corruption charges to be filed against him.
But in a text message, Belmonte said: “Yes, there is no reason not to (take his oath). I even talked with Comelec (Commission on Elections) Chair (Sixto) Brillantes on this.”
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II also said that a number of party-list groups have changed their nominees mid-way during their term.
But Akbayan party-list Representative Walden Bello said Pangandaman’s entry into Congress was “not acceptable.”
Salic Dumarpa, former commissioner of the National Labor Relations Commission, claimed that Pangandaman was making a “mockery” of the party-list elections by “jumping” over all the five nominees of AA-Kasosyo listed in the May 2010 elections.
Dumarpa said that Pangandaman was obviously rushing to get a seat in Congress in the belief it would provide him with “parliamentary immunity” from corruption charges to be slapped against him.
Suspended Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan had pointed to Pangandaman as the bagman of former President Macapagal-Arroyo.
Dumarpa had earlier complained to Belmonte that Pangandaman was not eligible to be a representative since he was not a nominee of AA-Kasosyo in the May 2010 elections as he was still a member of the Arroyo Cabinet until President Aquino took over on June 30. Gil Cabacungan Jr.