Comelec disqualifies Apec, 1-Care party-listsBy Fat Reyes
MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday disqualified two more party-list groups to run in the 2013 polls.
Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a press conference at the poll body’s main office in Intramuros Monday that though the decision would be signed by the afternoon, the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (Apec) and the 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy (1-Care).APEC were disqualified based on a unanimous vote.
Brillantes said that Apec had two incumbent congressmen while Apec had one representative in the present Congress.
Asked why the groups were disqualified, Brillantes said, “Wala namang (there’s no) sector for electronic consumers.”
The Comelec last week also disqualified Ako-Bicol and 12 other party-list groups.
The Comelec has been undergoing a re-evaluation of old and new party-list groups and a screening of their nominees under the law as part of their efforts to cleanse the party-list system, which has been criticized as being dominated by bogus organizations or by groups whose nominees are either multimillionaires, former government officials or members of powerful political clans.
Under Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-list System Act, only 12 marginalized and underrepresented sectors of society can seek congressional representation.
These are the labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals sectors.
20 more to be disqualified
Brillantes, during the press conference, said that 20 more party-list groups would be cancelled their accreditation to run as party-lists for next year’s polls. He said that the groups were disqualified via a unanimous vote and their names would be announced within the week. He added that the resolutions for the said party-lists were being prepared.
He said that a total of 115 existing party-list groups were up for review.
“Based on our estimate pero wala pa itong direct conclusions, mahigit kalahati matatanggal doon sa existing …so half of 115,” he said. He added that the groups could always go to the Supreme Court to question their rulings.
Padaca on power to break tie on some cases
Brillantes added that apart from the 20 partylist groups who would be disqualified based on the unanimous votes, there were several cases when the poll body had a 3-3 vote.
“Merong mga cases where we have 3-3 votes, and we are debating on whether to allow Commissioner [Grace] Padaca to vote to break the tie,” he said.
He clarified that if the new Comelec commissioner would not participate, a 3-3 vote would mean a retention of the party-lists since they would need four votes or majority votes to cancel the accreditation of the existing party-lists.
“We are debating now on whether and we’re also asking Commissioner Padaca if she’s willing to participate. If she is, then we will throw to her only those with the 3-3 votes to break the tie,” he said.
Asked how many groups were considered under the 3-3 case, Brillantes said that he was not sure but that there were about nine to 10 party-lists under the 3-3 case.
Not singling out Ako-Bicol
Brillantes said that they were targeting to release the complete list for existing party-list groups by the end of the month.
When asked for comments about the statements made by representatives of Ako-Bicol party-list that they were being singled-out, Brillantes said that they were lucky that the group’s cancellation was announced first so that they could immediately go to the SC to question the ruling.
“Napakaswerte nila at sila ang inuna namin at makakatakbo sila sa Supreme Court and they can get an immediate ruling. Hindi ba mas kawawa naman yung nabibitin na iba na hindi pa nila alam,” Brillantes said. He maintained that the poll body was correct in saying that the group could not participate in next year’s polls.
He also said he hoped that the SC could make a decision on the group by December so that it would be clear for other party-list groups which are in the same situation as Ako-Bicol.
As to the allegations made by a militant group that the poll body was favoring Malacañang-backed party-lists, he said “but when the final listing comes out, they will realize that we are not favoring anybody.”
Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan chairperson, who went to the Comelec’s main office in Intramuros Monday morning, called on Comelec not to hold “double-standards” in their purging system, saying that “Malacañang-backed party-lists should also be disqualified.” He named the said party-lists as Akbayan, Citizen’s Action Party, Black and White Movement, among others.