All in the family: Politicians use party-lists for dynasties
Many politicians belonging to political dynasties have been reinventing themselves over the years through the party-list groups.
This is quite alarming, said Danny Arao, convenor of the poll watchdog Kontra Daya.
“It’s a mockery of the party-list system,” Arao said in an interview with the Inquirer, explaining that the party-list law was supposed to give representation to the marginalized sectors of society.
In 2013, however, the Supreme Court allowed political parties and groups not representing marginalized and unrepresented sectors to participate in party-list elections, Arao explained.
“Unfortunately, the SC ruling opened the party-list system to everyone, including the rich and powerful. It provided an opportunity or, rather, a legal loophole for traditional politicians to exploit the party-list law.”
In a recent statement, Kontra Daya noted that several party-list groups running for Congress were tied to powerful local and national politicians.
“There is the trend of having nominees from the members of one family,” Arao said. “More and more we see party-list nominations being passed on to or inherited by a member of the same family, no different from the practice of dynasties in other elective positions.”
“They are already well-entrenched in Congress. But with the party-list system, families not content with regular congressional seats have now taken to using the party-list system to expand that kind of entrenchment, to expand their influence and power,” Arao added.
Arao cited the Ortegas of La Union.
“Aside from controlling practically the entire La Union, they are also able to have seats in the House of Representatives,” he said.
“Continuity of service and projects” is an often cited excuse of politicians, those whose terms have expired, to reinvent themselves as nominees of party-list groups.
“A lot of civic-oriented people engage in public service without any position, whether in the legislative or executive branch. So if these people from political dynasties want to continue their service, they can do so in other capacities. They have to respect the law, I think that’s the bottom line,” Arao said.
Among the party-list groups suspected of being used to extend political dynasties, Kontra Daya named:
Serbisyo sa Bayan Party-list (SBP) — The first nominee is Ricardo Belmonte Jr., nephew of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.
Association for the Development Dedicated to Agriculture and Fisheries Inc. (ADDA) — The first nominee is Grace Kristine Singson Meehan, daughter of Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson.
AAMBIS-OWA (Ang Asosasyon Sang Manguguma Nga Bisaya-OWA Mangunguma Inc.) — The first nominee is incumbent Rep. Sharon Garin, sister of Health Secretary and former Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin.
Abono party-list — First nominee is said to be Conrado Estrella III, scion of a political clan.
Kasangga party-list — First nominee is Gabriella Calizzo-Quimpo, three-term vice governor of Aklan whose husband is running to replace her as vice governor.
Ang Mata’y Alagaan (Mata) Party-list — First nominee Tricia Nicole Velasco-Catera is the daughter of current Mata Rep. Lorna Velasco and sister of incumbent Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco.
Abante Mindanao (ABAMIN) — One of its nominees, Jocelyn Rodriguez, is the sister of Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and outgoing ABAMIN Rep. Maximo Rodriguez.
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