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14 party-lists win seats

OFW, mutineers’ groups are House first-timers

A controversial group representing overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and another formed by former military mutineers on Friday made it to the first batch of winners of the party-list election.

In a two-page resolution, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proclaimed OFW Family Club Inc. (OFW), whose first nominee is former Ambassador Roy V. Señeres, and the Magdalo Para sa Pilipino (Magdalo), headed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, winners of the May 13 party-list election along with 12 other groups.

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The Comelec said the 14 groups were guaranteed one seat each in the House of Representatives, as each of them garnered at least 2 percent of all the votes cast in the party-list election.

Besides OFW and Magdalo, the other groups winners proclaimed were Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay), Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment Through Action Cooperation and Harmony Toward Educational Reforms (A-Teacher), Bayan Muna, 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy (1-Care), Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party (Akbayan), Ako Bicol Political Party (AKB), Abono Party-List (Abono), Gabriela, Cooperative Natcco Network Party (Coop-Natcco), Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (Agap), Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (Cibac), and An Waray.

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Magdalo tried to run in the 2010 party-list election as a regional political party, but the Comelec barred the group from running, saying it could not trust a group of soldiers who advocated the overthrow of government.

Magdalo appealed to the Supreme Court. But in a ruling in July 2012, the court affirmed the Comelec’s decision, saying that if the former putschists decided to register again, its members must renounce the use of violence or other harmful means to achieve its goals.

The court also said that Magdalo could not take in as their members the active servicemen and women, as this would be a violation of the Constitution.

When it again asked the Comelec to be registered—this time as a sectoral group—Magdalo said it did “not advocate the use of force or violence or other unlawful means to achieve its goals.”

“The sectoral organization seeks to represent retired and former members of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), the urban poor and the youth, which are marginalized and underrepresented groups,” Magdalo said.

Migrants’ group

Another newcomer is OFW Family, which Señeres organized in 2000 to help Filipino migrant workers and their families.

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Among the goals of OFW Family is sponsoring legislation that would improve the benefits of migrant workers.

The group also aims to establish scholarship programs for the children of migrant workers.

The militant migrant rights group Migrante International last week complained that OFW’s second nominee, Juan Johnny Revilla, was the project manager of one of the companies contracted by Smartmatic-TIM to supply the information technology technicians who operated the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the 2010 elections.

Garry Martinez, Migrante International chair, said Revilla’s links to Smartmatic was “clearly a conflict of interest.”

He said Revilla was the project manager of Placewell Manpower, one of the three companies Smartmatic contracted to supply IT technicians to operate the ballot scanners in 2010.

“He was the person mainly in charge of operating the PCOS machines in 2010. He knows the ins and outs of the system. This is a very serious matter, especially now that Smartmatic’s systems remain in question due to technical and transparency issues in the election results,” Martinez said.

He also noted that Revilla was not on the original list of nominees submitted by OFW Family when it was accredited by the Comelec.

Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said that the commission might proclaim the other winners of the party-list election on Monday.

Fifty-eight House seats are allocated for party-list groups, but Brillantes said the proclamation of 14 winners yesterday did not necessarily mean 44 groups would be proclaimed next week.

“I’d like to clarify that we won’t necessarily name 44 more (winning groups) since the 14 might get more (seats). If they get two seats, then that’s [fewer] than 44,” Brillantes said.

“So most probably, we will be proclaiming fewer than 44 parties,” he added.

Brillantes said the Comelec did not include the votes for the 12 disqualified party-list groups in calculating the total number of votes cast.

One of the disqualified groups, Senior Citizens, was one of the top 10 vote-getters. The canvassing of the votes on Tuesday showed that it polled 671,196 votes.

Senior Citizens has asked the the Supreme Court to overturn the Comelec order disqualifying it.

Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares made a motion to the NBOC during last week’s canvassing to have the votes for the disqualified partylist considered as stray votes.

He argued that these groups were disqualified twice, once by the Comelec, and the second time when the high court remanded their case to the Comelec with new guidelines.

Brillantes said the votes for the disqualified groups would be counted separately just in case they were granted a temporary restraining order or status quo ante.

If their appeal to the high tribunal is dismissed, or if they choose not to appeal, their votes will no longer be counted.

“We are now waiting for the action of the Supreme Court… In fact we did not count the votes of Senior Citizens, which are more than half a million,” Brillantes said.

“They have until Monday to get a status quo ante order. If not, then that’s it. We will finish this,” he added.

But if the Supreme Court grants a reprieve for Senior Citizens, Brillantes said, the Comelec will withhold the proclamation of the winners of the last three party-list seats in the House.

“That could affect the 56th, 57th, or 58th… It depends on the number of votes… But these 14 (winners) will not be affected whether we compute it excluding the votes of the 12 disqualified groups or not. So, they can really be proclaimed,” Brillantes said.

“Their problem is they don’t know how many more seats they will get. They may end up with two, or one, or even three,” he added.

Brillantes said the Comelec would issue a “comprehensive resolution” on Monday to explain how the commission computed the seat allocation for the winning party-list groups.

“We will explain everything, including the number of seats. We will also give an explanation why they were (or were not) included (in the winning circle),” he said. With a report from Matikas Santos, INQUIRER.net

First posted 12:09 am | Saturday, May 25th, 2013

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TAGS: 1-CARE, 1st Consumer’s Alliance for Rural Energy, 2013 elections, A-Teacher, Abono, Abono party list, Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment Through Action Cooperation and Harmony Toward Educational Reforms, Agap, Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines, AKB, Akbayan, Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party, Ako Bicol Political Party, An Waray, Bayan Muna, Buhay, Buhay Hayaang Yumabong, Cibac, Citizens' Battle Against Corruption, Coop-Natcco, Cooperative Natcco Network Party, Election Highlights, Gabriela, Magdalo, OFW, OFW Family Club Inc., party lists, Party-List Groups
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