Comelec lowers boom on Mikey Arroyo
It’s all over for the group of Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, son of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which claims to represent security guards and tricycle drivers, and an aspiring party-list group of journalists.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday disqualified Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) and Alab ng Mamamahayag (Alam), bringing to 33 the number of party-list groups it had so far dropped from the list of organizations qualified to take part in the elections in May 2013.
Among the groups the Comelec earlier disqualified were Ako Bicol, 1st Consumer Alliance for Rural Energy and Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives, which have incumbent representatives in Congress.
No track record
In its ruling, the Comelec en banc officially dropped AGP, currently represented in Congress by Mikey Arroyo, from the roster of party-list groups reaccredited for the midterm elections because its nominees had no track record in representing security guards and drivers.
“They do not belong to the sector they want to represent and the organization [in general] has no track record representing this sector,” Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said in an interview.
The Comelec is purging groups from the party-list system following criticisms that millionaires, scions of influential political families and bogus organizations that pass themselves off as representatives of marginalized sectors were using the party-list system to gain seats in the House of Representatives.
Poll watchdog Kontra Daya earlier challenged the legitimacy of AGP, questioning its set of nominees for next year’s elections identified as Charlie Chua and Eder Dizon.
Lawyer, cosmetic surgeon
Kontra Daya noted that Chua was a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Lubao, Pampanga, and was a senior partner at the Chua and Munsayac law firm. It said Chua was the “right-hand man” of Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda.
Dizon was identified as a cosmetic surgeon, a Pampanga-based businessman who is president and owner of Suncove Corp., supposedly a franchise holder of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s small town lottery.
In August, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. gave hints of what awaited the group after it failed to present evidence in a hearing of its continuing compliance with the law on the party-list system.
P3M extort allegation
Sarmiento said that Alam’s allegations that the Comelec had tried to extort P3 million from the group in exchange for the organization’s accreditation played a major role in the final decision against the group.
Alam claims to be a group of journalists that also represents indigenous peoples, laborers, the urban poor, farmers and victims of titling syndicates.
“They have no track record to show that they have been really working for these multisectors they claim to represent,” said Sarmiento, citing one of the reasons in the unanimous decision issued by the Comelec en banc.
“Plus, the allegation about the bribery [was a factor] because the motion for reconsideration said that there was bribery committed but that was not proven during the meeting,” he said.
In a motion for reconsideration filed last month, Alam claimed that one of its members, Edwin Alcala, was approached by a certain Rogelio “JR” Rañeses who supposedly offered an assurance that the group’s accreditation would be approved in exchange for P3 million.
Alam further alleged that Rañeses had claimed that he had the authority of the Comelec’s second division, currently presided over by Commissioner Lucenito Tagle with Commissioner Elias Yusoph as member. But Alam did not name Tagle and Yusoph.
Absence of evidence
Alam filed the motion for reconsideration in the Comelec en banc after the second division thumbed down its request for accreditation for failing to meet the requirements of a legitimate party-list organization.
The division’s decision was affirmed by the en banc in a unanimous vote, Sarmiento said.
“The allegations were a factor. It doesn’t speak well of the organization to make a series of allegation of bribery and to state openly that there is no evidence,” he said.
Alam was one of the 165 new groups seeking accreditation from the Comelec so it could participate in the party-list elections.
A total of 289 groups have filed applications for accreditation.
Of the 33 groups the Comelec has disqualified so far, 29 are existing party-list organizations.
Under the Constitution, 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives are reserved for party-list groups.
Party-list representatives, like their counterparts representing congressional districts, are each entitled to P70 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund, a pork barrel, every year for their pet projects.