News reports today say that the Comelec has delisted some 62 partylist groups for failure to reach sufficient votes for a congressional seat or for having their accreditation denied with finality by the Comelec or Supreme Court. Many of the groups disqualified were believed to be associated with the previous Arroyo administration such as Kalahi, Babae Ka and Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA). Problems in the partylist system have given us Mikey Arroyo, a representative of Ang Galing Pinoy who claims to represent the security guards and tricycle drivers.
Next up for the Comelec would be the accreditation of new partylist groups. Comelec has announced that 172 groups have applied for accreditation.
In these matters, the Comelec is guided by the Partylist Law and relevant rulings by the Supreme Court.
Republic Act No. 7941, also known as the Party-List System Act, provides among other things that:
The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible. (Sec. 2)
The Supreme Court, in its decision on the 2001 case Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections, et al, argued that:
x x x (The) party or organization must not be an adjunct of, or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by, the government. By the very nature of the party-list system, the party or organization must be a group of citizens, organized by citizens and operated by citizens. It must be independent of the government. The participation of the government or its officials in the affairs of a party-list candidate is not only illegal and unfair to other parties, but also deleterious to the objective of the law: to enable citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors and organizations to be elected to the House of Representatives.
As watchdog group Kontra Daya put it in their letter to Comelec in 2010, “existing law and jurisprudence clearly reserve the party-list system for groups genuinely representing marginalized and underrepresented sectors…”
Furthermore, the Comelec guidelines on partylist nominees, in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling, states that nominees must “(belong) to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent.”
The Comelec is still in the accreditation stage and we have not seen the list of nominees. The groups also need to manifest their intent to run in the 2013 polls under the partylist system. Below are some of the groups that caught my attention while perusing the initial list. Some are curious because of their names, the sectors they claim to represent or the persons associated with the groups. Some use interesting acronyms, often with the “1” or “A” at the beginning so that their group will be listed on top of the usually long list of partylist groups.
The list from the Comelec should interest us to dig deeper, find out the platforms of these groups, their constituents, and their nominees. This is just the start of our renewed efforts in studying the partylist system in the hopes that it will truly serve its purpose.
- 1 Joint Alliance of Marginalized Group Inc. (1JAMG) represented in the petition by its president Roy Almoro who is also a former Representative to the 9th Congress of the Philippines (1992-1995).
- Addicts and Alcoholics Carrying the Message Association (AACMA) represented in the petition by former Manila Councilor Danilo V. Roleda
- Aviation Advancement Advocates (AAA) represented in the petition by former Air Transport Office Chief Daniel Dimagiba.
- MELCHORA – Movement of Women for Change and Reform chaired by Mary Grace Ibuna
- Ang ProLife – represented by its secretary general Atty. James Imbong
- Ako Ang Batang Sora, (ABS) represented by its president, Vanessa Rose Susano-Francisco who also served as Chief of Staff of former Rep. Mary Ann Susano.
- WWW.FOREXDEALERS.COM CORP. , “a multi-sectoral party representing the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of the money-changing industry, represented by Taib Abdurahman.
- ALA-EH or the Association of Local Athletics Entrepreneurs and Hobbyists, a regional party for Region IV represented by Elmer Anuran, president of Saved by the Bell Promotions and the owner of the Touch Gloves Boxing Gym in Agoncillo, Batangas, Philippines.
- BANANA Workers Partylist or the Philippine Banana Pioneer Foundation represented by Cresencio Saycon, Jr.
- ALTODA or Ang Lakas Texters Operator Development Association
- 1-Kanegosyo represented by its president Dionisio DG Magpantay
- Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation 1-AM represented in the petition by its president Arnulfo F. Manalac who is connected with the Department of Agriculture and its Secretary.
- Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS)
- AHENTE partylist, a sectoral formation representing professionals, labor and urban poor represented by Danilo R. dela Cruz, the publisher of Condo Central magazine, and is in the real estate industry, being the Vice president for Sales of ITALPINAS Euroasian Design & Eco-Development Corporation.
- ASKAL or Asosasyon ng mga Mangangalakal, a regional sectoral organization represented by lawyer Alfredo Villamor, Jr.
- Pahiyom Pobreng Pamilyang Pinoy 4P’s Inc which has the same name recall as the government’s CCT program known as 4P’s or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program
- AKOPA or Ako ang Pasahero
- 1-AAMOVER or 1-A Action Moral Values and Recovery Reform Philippines
- GOOD or Guardians of Orphans and Disabled
- Ako para sa Batang Pinoy, a sectoral organization whose president is Jewel May Lobaton-Pimentel, the wife of incumbent Senator Koko Pimentel.
- 1 +1 Katipunan Partylist representing the urban poor and disabled. It is represented in the petition by its chairman Delfin J. Wenceslao, Jr. who serves as Chairman and President of D.M. Wenceslao & Associates, Inc. and Fabricom Manufacturing Corporation among other functions according to Businessweek
- National Crusaders for Peace and Democracy represented by former police officer Gen. Romeo Maganto
- SANDAMA, Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Daang Matuwid represented by Neil Avila.
- GUARDJAN, Association of Guard, Utility Helper, Aider, Rider, Driver, Domestic Helper, Janitor, Agent and Nanny of the Philippines, a sectoral organization
- APELA– Advocates for Penology Enhancement and Legal Assistance
- Poor’s Free College, sectoral organization
- Hanap Buhay para sa Pinoy, represented by Butch Canoy
- BEST Guardians Partylist
- D’Manggagawa Balo Solo Parent Senior Citizen, Civic Community Inc., represented by petitioner Norma Cruz Nueva.
- 1ABAYAN– represented by Artemio B. Cana, Sr. who was previously dismissed from service as the register of deeds of Marikina for grave misconduct and dishonesty in 1997.
- Ako at Ang Basura Movement (AKO BA)
- @1Vendors – or Vendors Agrupation Inc.
- AWAT MINDANAO or Anti-War, Anti-Terror Peace Movement in Mindanao, a sectoral formation
- 1-Akong Minimum Wage Earner, a sectoral organization
- AALALAY or Ang Alyansang Laban sa Pang-aapi sa May Kapansanan at Pang-aabuso sa Likas Yaman, represented by Atty. Kathyrin Pioquinto, who according to news reports worked as the chief of staff of Rep. Arthur Yap as well as with the Dept. of Agriculture’s Agri Business Corporation.
There’s also the case of regional political parties who may or may not participate in the partylist system, depending on a manifestation that they would file before May 31. The names of some groups seem to indicate that they are indeed running under the partylist system. One question that would arise is if a regional party running in the partylist system can now being used by local politicians as a way of getting into congress outside the regular congressional district elections.
Groups registered as regional political parties include:
- BLACK AND WHITE, registering as a regional political party represented by former DoT Undersecretary Vicente Romano
- Abyan Ilonggo, a regional party (Region VI),represented by former Rep. Rolex Suplico
- AKO AN BISAYA, a regional party (Region VIII), represented by 3-term congressman Rodolfo Tuazon
- UNA ang Edukasyon, a regional political party
- 1-Ang Maharlika, a regional political party represented by Norberto Ferrer
- 1-Serve the People (1STP), a regional political party
- PPP or Pilipinas Para sa Pinoy, a regional party represented by Isidro Suedad, formerly of Alliance for Rural Concerns
We cannot yet make firm conclusions at this point, but we should definitely be vigilant. All partylist groups seeking accreditation should pass thorough scrutiny by the Comelec. It would be better if their documents of accreditation, at least the main petitions, are made available online for public scrutiny. We also expect the names of the nominees to be made available online as well. ###
We hope to be able to learn more about the groups, here’s the list from the comelec. “Crowdsourcing” can help us analyze more of the listed groups.