Aquino sisters donated P14M to Akbayan in 2010 polls
The party-list group Akbayan received a total of P112 million in political contributions during the May 2010 elections, including P14 million from three sisters of President Aquino, according to a Commission on Elections (Comelec) document.
The Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures that Akbayan submitted to the Comelec in June 2010 showed that Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz and Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee each contributed P2 million while TV host Kris Aquino, or Kristina Bernadette Yap, gave P10 million.
Kris’ contribution was the biggest among individual contributors. Richard Dee, Viel’s husband, gave P3 million.
Malacañang defended the campaign contributions made by Mr. Aquino’s sisters to Akbayan.
“We have a democratic process. The sisters are and continue to this day as private persons. They have a right to contribute to a group which they feel should also support the President’s program of anticorruption and poverty alleviation,” Secretary Edwin Lacierda said in a Malacañang briefing.
The statement said Akbayan received a total of P112,183,000 in contributions from individuals and political parties while its election expenditures reached P112,174,008.70.
Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros ran but lost in the 2010 senatorial election. She is making a fresh run for the Senate in the May 2013 elections with the Liberal Party-led coalition of the administration.
Renato Reyes, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general, said the financial contributions of the President’s sisters showed that Akbayan was his “favored party-list” group and “utterly beholden” to him.
“And now that Mr. Aquino is the President, questions continue to arise on how Akbayan will be using its position in the administration to gain unfair advantage over the truly marginalized and under-represented groups,” Reyes said.
“With this kind of campaign contribution, Akbayan is utterly beholden to Aquino and it will continue to be, even if his policies run counter to the interests of the marginalized,” he added.
Bayan and its allied groups have asked the Comelec to disqualify Akbayan, arguing that it has ceased to be marginalized since many members hold key positions in the government.
Barry Gutierrez, Akbayan national spokesperson, said the contributions indicated the public’s “confidence [in] and support” for Akbayan advocacies.
“Akbayan’s campaign during the 2010 elections was funded mainly by contributions from individuals who believed in Akbayan’s reform platform and partnership with then senator and Liberal Party presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino,” Gutierrez said.
“To be exact, 95 percent of our funds are donations or contributions from other persons. We ensured that the contributions did not come from illegal, unscrupulous, or tainted sources.
Not illegal ‘taxes’
“Unlike our accusers from the extreme Left, contributions to Akbayan’s electoral campaign did not come from illegal ‘taxes’ forcibly extracted from logging and mining companies under pain of their installations and equipment being burned and their personnel harmed,” he added.
Gutierrez said radio and television ads accounted for more than 90 percent of Akbayan’s total campaign expenditures.
“These advertisements promoted Akbayan as a partner of Liberal Party presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. All our expenses are duly accounted for, and our total expenditures match the total contributions that we received. In short, we earned not even a single centavo from these contributions,” Gutierrez said.
He said the contributions allowed Akbayan to run a more effective national campaign that ensured the continued representation of the interests of the marginalized within the corridors of government.
The group counts Secretary Ronald Llamas, presidential political adviser; Secretary Joel Rocamora of the National Anti-Poverty Commission and the agency’s spokesperson, Hontiveros; and Chair Loretta Ann Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights, as among its members.
Other members in government are Gutierrez (Llamas’ deputy), GSIS board member Mario Agujo, Social Security System Commissioner Daniel Edralin, National Youth Commission Commissioner Percival Cendaña, and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Commissioner Angelina Ludovice-Katoh. With a report from TJ Burgonio
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