DepEd chief eyes party-list seat
By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Another member of President Arroyo’s Cabinet is eyeing a congressional seat through the backdoor – the party-list system.
A source in the House of Representatives told The STAR yesterday that Education Secretary Jesli Lapus is seeking the nomination of at least two teachers’ groups now represented in the legislature.
These are A-Teacher (Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment through Action, Cooperation and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms), represented by Ulpiano Sarmiento II and Mariano Piamonte Jr., and Abakada-Guro, represented by newspaper columnist and former labor official Jonathan de la Cruz.
Party-list organizations have up to March 26 to submit their list of nominees to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Lapus was a Tarlac congressman before joining the Arroyo Cabinet. He was widely believed to have been eyeing a seat in the Senate but apparently declined to be included in the administration’s senatorial ticket.
His congressional seat had been inherited by his brother Jeci, who is now seeking reelection.
Earlier, the party-list group 1-Utak (United Transport Koalisyon) said it would nominate Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes as its representative in the incoming Congress.
It said its incumbent representative, Vigor Mendoza, was giving way to Reyes as its first nominee.
It was not clear why Mendoza was giving up his P500,000-a-month congressional seat in favor of Reyes. Mendoza, however, would be 1-Utak’s second nominee.
The energy secretary has said he would accept the nomination.
1-Utak claims to represent transport operators and drivers.
Reyes, however, claimed that it was not necessary that a representative of 1-Utak should be an operator or a driver.
“It’s the choice of the party-list group, which could nominate, whoever it believes could best represent them in Congress,” he said in a television interview.
Another group claiming to represent transport operators and drivers is Ang Galing Party, which plans to nominate presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.
Arroyo has given way to his mother, the President, who is running as representative of Pampanga’s second district.
Bayan Muna and other militant organizations have announced their intention to block the nomination of Rep. Arroyo and Reyes as party-list representatives.
They said their entry in Congress would make a mockery of the party-list system.