Seeds of discord: Feud rocks Magsasaka party-list | Inquirer News

Seeds of discord: Feud rocks Magsasaka party-list

/ 05:42 AM October 13, 2022

Seeds of discord: Feud rocks Magsasaka party list

Stock photo from the Facebook account of the Magsasaka party-list

MANILA, Philippines — Will the real Magsasaka please stand up?

A feud within the farmers’ party list organization has spoiled the entry of its new nominee into the House of Representatives following allegations that he is not a member but the nominee of another group.


Days after entrepreneur Robert Gerard Nazal Jr. took his oath as Magsasaka representative before a Quezon City court, the group’s former congressman on Wednesday claimed that Nazal wasn’t one of them.


“We do not know Nazal and he is not our member,” said former Rep. Argel Cabatbat, a lawyer.

Esteemed member

“According to our research, he is the founder and reportedly a nominee of Pasahero party list which lost in the 2022 elections. He is also a former fifth nominee of Bagong Henerasyon party list in 2019,” Cabatbat said in a statement.

In a quick rebuttal, Nazal insisted he has been “an esteemed member of the rightful, Comelec (Commission on Elections)-approved Magsasaka party list for quite some time.”

He also showed reporters the certificate of nomination of Pasahero with its five nominees, which did not include his name.

Nazal, according to his public LinkedIn page, is the CEO of the mining firm MRMJ Earthmovers Corp., and of the construction firm PERRC Construction and Development Corp.

In a statement on Wednesday, Nazal’s office said he took his oath before Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 220 Judge Jose Paneda on Monday shortly after the Comelec proclaimed Nazal as the qualified nominee of Magsasaka, one of 55 winning groups in the May elections.


Cabatbat said his group had sought a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court on Tuesday to block Nazal’s assumption of office.

“Only the Comelec knows why they allowed this. Allowing Nazal to assume the post is against the law because he is not a member of Magsasaka,” he said at a press conference.

In its statement, Nazal’s camp called Cabatbat’s allegations “false and utterly baseless.”

It took him four months to assume office since it took that long for the Comelec to resolve the dispute between Cabatbat and Magsasaka’s national chair Soliman Villamin Jr., it added.

Nazal cited the Comelec’s Sept. 9 resolution upholding the Nov. 25, 2021, resolution of its First Division that recognized Villamin’s manifestation of intent to participate in the elections.

This document, according to Nazal’s camp, contained a set of Magsasaka nominees that was different from the nominees submitted by Cabatbat’s faction.

Nazal had been the third nominee on Villamin’s list, but the first and second nominees, King Cortez and Villamin, both resigned and withdrew their nomination.

Nazal’s camp claimed that the infighting within the party list began in June 2019 when Villamin was “unceremoniously and illegally voted out” of Magsasaka’s council of leaders and “expelled” from the group in November that year.

Villamin is head of DV Boer Farm International Corp., where Cabatbat served as legal counsel until the two had a falling out.

In his filing with the Comelec, Villamin said his expulsion from the party was illegal. The Comelec sided with him and ruled that his removal as Magsasaka chair was “null and void” and that he remained its legitimate leader.

“Given this context, it is no wonder that Cabatbat has now gone to media to besmirch the reputation of the Comelec, and make sensational claims about so-called anomalies,” the Nazal statement said.

“In truth, no such anomalies took place,” it added.

It said Cabatbat’s other claim that Nazal was a previous nominee of Pasahero was “pitifully inaccurate and easy to debunk” based on official Comelec records.


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Infighting, power struggle erupt within Magsasaka party-list


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