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Farmers’ group protests disqualification by Comelec


08:20 PM December 1st, 2012

December 1st, 2012 08:20 PM

A party-list group representing farmers assailed the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) decision to strike it off the list of party-list groups that are qualified to run in next year’s elections, saying in a statement that the move meant thousands of farmers losing representation in Congress.

In a statement issued by Butil (Grain) party-list group, Rep. Agapito Guanlao said his group is protesting the Comelec decision because Butil had been accredited to run in previous elections.

“There is no logic to the decision of the Comelec,” said Guanlao in the statement. “How can they say that farmers are not marginalized? If farmers are not marginalized, who else would qualify?” Guanlao said.

Butil is among the original party-list groups that had been accredited and allowed to run in 1998.

The Comelec, however, ruled that agricultural and farmers’ cooperatives are not qualified as party-list groups.

“Our members could not believe such a ruling,” said Guanlao. “If the Comelec’s reasoning is that cooperatives are not marginalized, how come other cooperative groups were allowed to run as party-list organizations? Their ruling is so arbitrary,” he added.

Guanlao said Butil will seek relief from the Supreme Court on Monday to secure a temporary restraining order and a status quo ante order against the Comelec ruling.

Guanlao accused the Comelec of making a mockery of the party-list system by disqualifying groups that had been accredited in the past.

Another group, the anticommunist Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (Anad), went as far as accusing the Comelec of being procommunist.

“Why are communist fronts being allowed to run while democratic groups are being disqualified?” said  Anad Rep. Pastor Alcover Jr. in a separate statement.

The chair of the electoral reforms committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines earlier said the cleansing of the party-list system could be seen as a form of “witch hunt” or “inquisition.”

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