The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved the first party-list organization eligible to vie for congressional seats in next year’s balloting—a group calling itself Pilipinos with Disabilities (PWD).
“They are represented by Filipinos, all of them are disabled—their members and all their nominees,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a press conference Wednesday.
“Right now, we don’t have the representation of the disabled. This is the first one and we hope they will be able to win,” he added.
The PWD nominees were identified as Michael Barredo, Manuel Agcaoili, Adeline Ancheta, Octavio Gonzales and Luis Arellano.
Brillantes also announced that 19 more party-list groups purportedly representing anticommunists, coconut farmers, the urban poor, mining advocates and indigenous peoples were officially dropped from the May 2013 elections.
This brings to 69 the number of party-list organizations, among 200 being reviewed, disqualified from the balloting. Those delisted include 45 existing party-list groups.
The 19 disqualified on Wednesday were merely “advocacy” groups rather than sectoral representatives, Brillantes said.
In a separate interview, Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the groups had failed to pass the test using the eight guidelines in the Ang Bagong Bayani v. Comelec case.
“Their nominees do not belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector and most of the groups have no track record showing that they worked for the marginalized and underrepresented,” Sarmiento said.
One of those disqualified was the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (Anad), an anticommunist group said to be linked to the military. It is currently represented by Pastor Alcover Jr. in Congress. It polled 297,984 votes in the 2010 elections.
In a document submitted to the Comelec, election watchdog Kontra Daya claimed that Anad was an “adjunct of the government,” supposedly receiving funding and support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Kontra Daya listed Alcover as among the multimillionaires in Congress with a net worth of P5.45 million in his 2011 statement of assets and liabilities.
A similar party-list group, Bantay, formerly represented by fugitive retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, was delisted by the Comelec last month.
Brillantes said the Comelec en banc also unanimously voted to cancel the accreditation of the following existing party-list groups:
Philippine Coconut Producers Federation Inc. (Cocofed); Alliance of Advocates in Mining Advancement for National Progress (Aama); Bayani; Abang Lingkod Inc.; Ang Agrikultura Natin Isulong (Aani); Aagapay ng Indigenous Peoples Rights Alliance Inc. (A-Ipra); Alliance for Mindanao Elders (Ame); Greenforce; Firm 24-K Association Inc.; Action League of Indigenous Masses (Alim); Alma sa Pagkahikahos at Ignoransiya (Alma); Kaunlaran ng Agrikultura, Asensadong Probinsya, Angat ng Bayan (Kaagapay); and the Social Movement for Active Reform and Transparency.
Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Kaunlaran (Kabaka) and the Alliance of Bicolnon Party, which were allowed to run in the 2010 elections, have also been disqualified.
But Brillantes said the two groups were being retained as political parties so they could field candidates in the regular elections next year. He noted that Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing was running under Kabaka as a political party.
The Comelec also denied the registration for the 2013 elections of aspiring party-list groups Kalikasan Green Party of the Philippines (Kalikasan), A-Seamariners and the Education Development Services for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Edsa).
Kalikasan listed Raymond Palatino, incumbent representative of Kabataan, as its first nominee.
Black and White
The Comelec’s first division likewise denied the Black and White’s petition for registration as a regional political party under the party-list system.
In a 12-page resolution, the First Division headed by Sarmiento stated that its track record has shown that Black and White was primarily a group advocating good government. The group listed Leah Navarro, Marco Cabrera, Jose Morales, Mary Shinn Ramos and Nolasco Apolonio as its nominees.
“While it may have involved women, urban poor and youth in this advocacy, their involvement is merely incidental to the advocacy for good governance,” it said.
“In this petition, the Commission is tasked to determine whether Black and White, as a political party through its track record, represents and seeks to uplift the marginalized sectors of women, urban poor and youth,” it stated.
Kontra Daya earlier noted that Black and White’s members had been appointed to various positions in the Aquino administration.
They include Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita “Ging” Deles and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.