Mikey Arroyo’s party-list affiliation questioned

Mikey Arroyo’s party-list affiliation questioned
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Opposition candidates questioned Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo’s nomination as representative of the party-list group Ang Galing Pinoy.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, a vice presidential candidate of the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino party, said in a statement: “How in heaven’s name can Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo represent the poor and dispossessed security guards?

“The plot is so clear—Mrs. Arroyo is trying to amass support in Congress by beefing up their numbers so that in case she decides to pursue Charter amendment anew, they will have the strength to make it happen.”

Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III made a similar comment and called on the Commission on Elections to ensure that party-list groups were truly representing marginalized sectors.

“Security guards can be called marginalized because they are abused through long working hours and low pay. But I don’t know if it is right for Mikey to be their representative,” Aquino said, adding that the congressman even had to fend off questions about his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Unlike lowly security guards, Mikey Arroyo’s net worth has ballooned by more than 1,600 percent in seven years, from P5.7 million in 2001 to P74.4 million in 2004, and then to P99.2 million in 2008.

“The party-list system was reserved for the marginalized so that those who are voiceless will be given a chance,” Aquino pointed out.

LP senatorial candidate Nereus Acosta said Mikey Arroyo’s nomination as a party-list representative could give him a chance to enrich himself further.

“To become a representative of a marginalized sector in the country is a huge responsibility. It is sad that some unscrupulous people have found another method to wriggle their way into the House of Representatives and get their hands on a portion of the national budget,” Acosta said.

Acosta observed that Mikey Arroyo had also been accused of failing to declare in his SALN for 2007 and 2008 a beach-front house in Foster City, California, valued at $1.32 million or P63.7 million.

He said the Comelec should have been “more selective in its accreditation of a number of party-list groups.”

GMA voting bloc

Another LP senatorial candidate, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, said the administration was apparently trying to assemble a “GMA voting bloc” in the next House.

“The Arroyos and their allies are using the party-list system to populate Congress with GMA-friendly legislators,” Hontiveros said, adding that this was part of “the plan for the President to assume the speakership after her stint as President.”

Hontiveros also said hardworking security guards had “the right to be represented by someone credible, trustworthy and a member of their ranks,” and that allowing Mikey Arroyo to represent them was not only an affront to the sector but also an insult to the party-list system itself.

“The Palace game plan is to pack the House of Representatives with as many Arroyo allies as possible using the party-list system. This ploy is in aid of keeping Ms Arroyo in power,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Disqualify them

Militant party-list representatives said they would ask the Comelec to disqualify Mikey Arroyo and other administration-backed party-list nominees.

In a phone interview, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said his group would file its case on Friday or Monday, after the release of the final list of party-list groups and their nominees.

“So far, we only have Mikey Arroyo and Ang Galing Pinoy. We expect to add more to our disqualification case after we get the complete list,” he said, adding that Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes and other Cabinet secretaries were also being targeted.

Casiño said there was still time to have Mikey Arroyo and other Palace-backed party-list nominees disqualified.

He cited the case of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga party-list group, which won in the 2007 elections but was disqualified before its nominee, actor Richard Gomez, could take his seat in the House.

In a statement, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said Mikey Arroyo’s attempt to stay in Congress through the party-list system showed his “addiction to power.”

“The Comelec should not allow itself to be used by the Arroyos in this brazen debauchery of the party-list system. The Comelec must immediately disqualify Mikey,” Mariano said. With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr. and Cyril L. Bonabente, Inquirer Research

Karen Ang

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