Ako Bicol says it’s willing to lead legal battle
LEGAZPI CITY—The Ako Bicol (AKB) is willing to lead a united front with other party-list groups in asking the Supreme Court to nullify the decision of the Commission on Election (Comelec) that disqualified them from taking part in the 2013 national and local elections.
AKB Representatives Rodel Batocabe and Alfredo Garbin told the Inquirer on Thursday that although AKB and other disqualified party-list groups filed individual petitions at the high tribunal, they could unite as they have common grounds to decry what AKB said was the arbitrary decision of the Comelec.
In a statement quoting him, ex-Comelec chairman Christian Monsod said the Constitution contains no prohibition preventing the rich from serving in party-list groups.
Monsod, a member of the commission that wrote the 1987 Constitution, said there is a need to amend the Party-List System Act to correct the flawed interpretation of the constitutional provision on the party-list system.
He said even the law itself does not contain a provision that sets a wealth standard for nominees of party-list groups.
“Reforms are indeed needed to correct the flawed interpretation of the constitutional provisions on the party-list system,” Monsod was quoted as saying.
The two AKB lawmakers said they are willing to take the lead to initiate a common petition in questioning the Comelec decision to remove them from the list of qualified party list organizations.
Batocabe said it is the contention of AKB that the Comelec acted with grave abuse of discretion and violated the Constitution by not resolving the matter first in the division level.
Garbin, in a text message, said some delisted party-list groups acted individually in their petitions at the Supreme Court because “each party list group has different grounds.”
“We have similar issues especially on two questionable aspects of the Comelec decision—the right to vote of our constituents and the absence parameters in reviewing party-list qualifications,” said Batocabe.
Batocabe said he welcomed the opinion of Monsod who said AKB has valid and strong arguments to fight the Comelec decision at the Supreme Court.
When asked if Ako Bicol, which won three seats in the House, should be barred from running for being represented by the rich, Monsod replied: “Under the present system, (AKB) has good and valid arguments presented before the Supreme Court.”