Letter of complaint to the Comelec on bogus party-list groups and questionable party-list nominees

Letter of complaint to the Comelec on bogus party-list groups and questionable party-list nominees
Kontra Daya

HON.JOSE MELO
Chairman
Commission on Elections

March 15, 2010

Dear Chairman Melo:

Warm greetings of peace!

We, conveners of the Kontra Daya campaign, are writing to express our outrage over the participation of several groups either sponsored or supported by the government in the race for party-list seats. We are also dismayed that some individual government officials are reportedly being considered for nomination by certain party-list groups.

This situation is a clear and grave violation of the law and jurisprudence defining the intent and scope of the party-list system.

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.

Existing law and jurisprudence clearly reserve the party-list system for groups genuinely representing marginalized and underrepresented sectors while precluding the participation of government agencies or officials in it.

We thus manifest our strong objection to the recent accreditation of the following party-list groups:

* Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA) – Launched in 2003 as an anti-drug campaign for elementary school students, BIDA declares itself in its own website, www.bida.org.ph, as “the brainchild of PAGCOR Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Ephraim C. Genuino.” PAGCOR’s partners in this project are the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Department of Education. This group is no different from Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MAD), which competed for a party-list seat in 2001 and became the subject of Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections, et al. We have attached entries from the website of BIDA and PAGCOR as proof of that BIDA is a government adjunct. These are sufficient grounds to disqualify BIDA.

* Adhikain ng mga Dakilang Anak ng Maharlika (ADAM) – The group has for its first nominee Energy Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, nephew of former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. While denying that ADAM has anything to do with the Ampatuan clan which has held sway in Maguindanao for several generations, Undersecretary Ampatuan has himself declared that he formed ADAM as “(his) own” party-list group. Being himself a current government official, and one who comes from a prominent and influential clan in Maguindanao, Ampatuan and ADAM’s qualifications are at the very least questionable.

* Agbiag Timpuyog Ilocano (AGBIAG), Babae para sa Kaunlaran (BABAE KA), League of Youth for Peace and Development (LYPAD), and Kalahi Advocates for Overseas Filipinos (KALAHI) – These four groups are identified in an Oct. 16, 2006 memorandum from Malacañang’s Office of External Affairs (OEA) as the four main organizations to be supported in a party-list campaign that aimed to “provide full support to several COMELEC-accredited (party-list) groups that are ascertained to be pro-administration and ensure the winning of nine (9) to twelve (12) seats in the House of Representatives,” among other objectives. We have attached the scanned copy of the said Palace Memorandum. The memorandum should be seen as a ground for the disqualification of these party-list groups.

We would also like to draw the Comelec’s attention to reports that Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes are being eyed as nominees of Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) and 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK), respectively.

Arroyo comes from the dominant political party Lakas-Kampi, is an incumbent congressman from Pampanga, and is the son of the incumbent president. Nothing in his current status qualifies him as a party-list representative. We call on the Comelec to exercise special vigilance in this regard, once the nominees of party-list groups have been submitted. Comelec has no choice but to disqualify Arroyo.

Reyes meanwhile is the current Secretary of Energy and has held previous positions in the Arroyo cabinet including Secretary of Defense and Interior and Local Government. He has also been the AFP Chief of Staff, another position that makes him influential and privileged. Nothing in his credentials makes him qualified to be a party-list nominee. We call on the Comelec to exercise special vigilance in this regard. Should he be included in the list of nominees of 1-Utak, Comelec has no choice but to disqualify Sec. Angelo Reyes.

Comelec cannot turn a blind eye to the clear pattern of abuse and distortion of the party-list system being done under the Arroyo administration. The 2010 elections will not be the first time interest groups would claim to be representing the marginalized. The lack of strict implementation of the law has allowed representatives of major political parties, influential persons, cabinet and military officials to take advantage of the party-list system.

For the 2010 elections, we can already see a concerted effort on the part of the allies of the Arroyo administration to use the party-list system so that they can remain in power as members of Congress.

To allow these issues to remain unresolved is to be an accomplice to a brazen bastardization of the party-list system.

We urge the Comelec to immediately conduct an investigation and a public hearing on the issues raised above, in relation to the party-lists BIDA, ADAM, AGBIAG, BABAE KA, LYPAD, and KALAHI. This can serve as an initial step in correcting the abuses of the party-list system. We reserve the right to file before the Comelec additional complaints on other party-list groups that do not conform to the law. We also reserve the right to file our opposition to the nomination of the Rep. Mikey Arroyo and Sec. Angelo Reyes once the final list of nominees is submitted.

For the Conveners,

FR. JOE DIZON
ENGR. RODOLFO NOEL LOZADA
MO. MARY JOHN MANANZAN
RENATO REYES JR.
GRACE POE-LLAMANZARES

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.