Another party-list group runs to SC
Another party-list group has asked the Supreme Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from disqualifying it from the May 2013 elections, saying the poll body has denied it due process.
The Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (Apec) sought the high court’s help almost a week after another disqualified party-list group, Ako Bicol, asked relief from the tribunal.
As of last week, the Comelec had so far dropped 33 groups—29 existing party-list organizations and four groups that sought accreditation—from the list of organizations qualified to take part in the elections next year.
The poll body 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.
Lawyer Don Baccay, counsel of Apec, said disqualified party-list groups were going to the high court because the Comelec did not give them the chance to seek a reconsideration for their disqualification.
He added that the Comelec had not notified party-list groups that it was out to disqualify them when it initially sought to determine their continuing compliance with the law.
“What is (also) confusing is that four of the present and incumbent Comelec [commissioners] did decide in 2010 that Apec was qualified but unfortunately changed their position, and we don’t understand that,” Baccay told reporters shortly after filing Apec’s petition.
Baccay identified the commissioners as Lucenito Tagle, Rene Sarmiento, Elias Yusoph and Armando Velasco.
Economic lobby group
In disqualifying Apec on Oct. 16, the Comelec said it was actually an “economic lobby group for the electric power industry” and had failed to prove it was marginalized and underrepresented.
Baccay said Apec, which has served five terms in the House of Representatives since 1998, was the “prime mover of lowering [power] rates, particularly in the marginalized areas of Tawi-Tawi and Sultan Kudarat.”
In its petition, Apec said the Comelec in Resolution No. 12-201 violated due process and committed “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in finding that Apec failed to comply with laws, rules and regulations.”
The party-list group asked the high court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order on the Comelec resolution and to issue a status quo ante order so as to allow it to “revert back to its former status and standing before the issuance of the resolution.”
Apec also asked the high court to direct the poll body to include it in the final list of groups qualified to take part in the May elections, and to declare that the group represented the marginalized and underrepresented sector and “therefore qualified and fit to participate in the 2013 elections and subsequent elections.”
An outgoing Apec lawmaker does not intend to leave without a whimper.
Apec Rep. Ponciano Payuyo yesterday said that Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and other power sector players may have engaged in the “overcollection” of value-added tax (VAT) from consumers.
Payuyo said his preliminary study on Meralco’s VAT collection showed that the power distributor collected an excess of about P1.6 billion from its customers in 2009 alone.
“In my view, being an accountant, there was an overcollection here. In 2009 alone, I saw an overcollection of P1.6 billion by Meralco from VAT alone,” he said in Filipino at a press conference.
Going by the documents he obtained from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), he said Meralco did not fully remit VAT collections to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
“I’ve secured these documents and initially in 2009, this is what we saw,” he said.
In a phone interview, Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga denied Apec’s allegation.
“We have been dutifully and religiously paying VAT as per prevailing regulations of Bureau of Internal Revenue,” Zaldarriaga said. “We remit to [power generation companies] every end of the month all pass-through VAT we collect from electricity consumers. The remittance is based on the amount actually collected.”
Payuyo said he had intended to raise the issue of “overcollection” during the recent House deliberations on the 2013 national budget. But he said he had been asked by House leaders to just “manifest” the matter.
Payuyo said he did not intend to create publicity for his findings. “I just wanted to correct (the mistake). That’s what I told the ERC. Let us correct if there was an excess,” he said.
Payuyo mentioned his findings in an apparent effort to prove that his party-list group was doing its job—to protect the interest of the “marginalized” sector it was representing.
Payuyo expressed doubt that the Comelec had sufficiently reviewed the voluminous documents submitted by each of the party-list groups under review.
He noted that his group spearheaded the crafting of the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008. With a report from Amy R. Remo
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