MANILA, Philippines — A group representing Filipino nurses was given the green light Wednesday to vie for congressional seats in next year’s elections but the Commission on Elections closed its doors on 10 more partylist organizations supposedly representing government employees, farmers, migrant workers and orphans.
The second partylist group to be approved by the Comelec, Ang Nars Inc. identified its nominees as Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Lydia Palaypay, Chris Sorongon, Caridad Galban and Anna Marie Acorda-Kapunan.
“They are marginalized professionals [and] all of their nominees are marginalized,” said Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. in an interview with reporters on Wednesday.
The group is composed of nurses, including the nominees and some of their members include those who have yet to be employed or those who have chosen to stay in the Philippines, according to Brillantes.
“They represent nurses who are unemployed and also those who are making a sacrifice by staying in the country instead of working abroad,” Brillantes said.
Last week, the Comelec announced that the group Pilipinos With Disabilities (PWD) was the first official candidate for the partylist elections next year.
Of the 10 partylist groups disqualified from joining in the 2013 balloting, two of them are existing groups — Action Brotherhood For Active Dreamers Inc. (Abroad) and Abot Tanaw, a group supposedly created by Efraim Genuino, former chairman of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. facing charges involving alleged irregularities at the state-run casino operator during his term.
Abot Tanaw claimed to represent overseas Filipino workers and operate social media services to keep migrant workers in touch with their families in the Philippines.
In a document submitted earlier to the Comelec, poll watchdog Kontra Daya noted that Genuino’s son-in-law, Gerwin See, was named the first nominee of Abot Tanaw in the 2010 elections. The others were said to be Pagcor consultants. But the group failed to win a seat in the previous balloting.
The other groups barred from joining the partylist elections were identified as Guardian, Hukbong Querubin Humanitarian Team Inc., Ikaw ang Laging Wagi ng Bayan Inc. (Ilaw), Samahang Ilocanong Magsasaka, Aangat Ahon Magsasaka, Guardians of Orphans and Disabled (Good), Una Edukasyon and Courage Government Employees Party-list (Courage).
Hukbong Querubin listed Jose Martin Loon, the stepson of former Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, as one of its nominees.
The Comelec ruling brought to 79, on Wednesday, the number of organizations delisted from the 2013 elections. Brillantes said the Comelec en banc was still looking at some 50 more groups up for disqualification.
The election body started purging the list composed of 265 groups in September as part of its effort to cleanse the partylist system of sham groups and nominees who are either multimillionaires, relatives of government officials and members of powerful political clans.
The review of groups hoping to participate in next year’s elections were being conducted in light of the Constitution, the Partylist System Act and jurisprudence, according to the Comelec.
The election body was also strictly implementing the guidelines enumerate in the Ang Bagong Bayani v. Comelec case.
In that decision written by then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, the Supreme Court issued guidelines to ensure that only those who belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors — labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, professionals and the LGBTs — can run for party-list seats in Congress.
The guidelines said the political party or sector must represent the marginalized and underrepresented groups identified in the Constitution and that the party or organization must not be “an adjunct of” or a “project organized or an entity funded or assisted by the government.”
It also said that the nominee of a party must represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors.
Brillantes also announced on Wednesday that the en banc, composed of him and six election commissioners, already decided on the fate of Akbayan. But he refused to elaborate pending the signing of a formal resolution on the voting.
“We just voted on it… we already have a majority but I won’t preempt [the resolution],” he told reporters. “I am not sure if the vote was 4-3 or 5-2 but I am not announcing what is our decision.”
Akbayan has been slapped with two disqualification complaints before the Comelec.
Groups calling for its delisting from the 2013 balloting said Akbayan could no longer participate in the party-list elections because it was already a “party in power” with many of its members and personalities being appointees of President Aquino.
Meanwhile, the group, Courage condemned on Wednesday the Comelec ruling saying that the en banc “seriously erred and committed grave abuse of authority” in denying their accreditation as a party-list organization.
“It perplexes us to no end on how they can claim that government employees are not marginalized and therefore do not deserve to have a representative in Congress,” stated the group, adding that they would seek relief from the Supreme Court.