Comelec: Party-list bets have to belong to sectors

Comelec: Party-list bets have to belong to sectors
By Leila B. Salaverria, Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Party-list nominees should “belong” to the marginalized sector they seek to represent, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Thursday said in a resolution aimed at preventing political opportunists and proxies from using the party-list system.

The nominees should also have a proven track record in their advocacy, the Comelec said.

In the resolution, the Comelec en banc set the parameters for the qualifications of party-list nominees, which would give citizens and groups grounds to petition for the disqualification of questionable nominees before the poll body.

A nominee is “one who belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent,” the resolution said.

The nominees should prove that they have “active participation” in the advancement of their party-list group’s causes.

Speeches, articles

Thus, the nominees and the group have to submit “documentary evidence,” such as speeches, declarations, written articles, and other positive actions showing the nominees’ “adherence to the advocacies of the party-list,” the resolution said.

Comelec officials said they issued the guidelines to clarify the “very broad” provisions on the party-list definition that have allowed just anyone to claim to be a nominee of a marginalized group.

Some party-list groups and nominees have no business in claiming to be a member of the marginalized sector, according to Commissioner Armando Velasco.

Velasco said half of the 187 party-list groups on the official ballot might not be for marginalized sectors.

Asked if there was anyone on the list who could be disqualified because of the new guidelines, he said “there could be some.”

Due process

Velasco declined to name names, saying that these nominees deserve due process and that he does not want to preempt the commission’s decisions.

He said some groups might challenge the Comelec resolution on party-list nominees, but he pointed out that the poll body was empowered during the election period to come up with such rules.

Party-list nominations recently came under scrutiny after some high-profile political figures were revealed to be nominees of marginalized sectors.

President’s Arroyo’s eldest son, outgoing Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, is the No. 1 nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, a group that claims to represent security guards.

Bro. Mike Velarde, leader of the El Shaddai Charismatic Movement, is the fifth nominee of Buhay. The first nominee is his son Mariano Michael.

Selfish

Ferdinand Rafanan, chief of the Comelec legal department, condemned the personalities who accepted nominations from party-list groups just to be able to sit in Congress and enjoy the perks of their position.

Rafanan described these nominees as “selfish.”

The party-list system, Rafanan said, was established to give voice to the underrepresented sectors of society. “It should be the powerless themselves who should represent their group. Otherwise the purpose is not served,” he said.

The Comelec’s citizens arm noted that some party-list groups were allowed to run in the May 2010 polls even though there were questions surrounding their legitimacy.

“This calls for a review because there are so many nominees who are not marginalized,” said Henrietta de Villa, chair of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.

In a report posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website, De Villa lamented the accreditation of bogus organizations.

She said these groups were crowding out groups that truly represent the marginalized and were providing an easy way for traditional politicians to get into Congress.

Scrutinize nominees

In an earlier interview, De Villa encouraged voters to scrutinize the nominees of party-list groups to ensure that they would be voting for those who really speak for the marginalized and the underrepresented.

She said voters, in choosing a party-list group, should exercise the same zeal as when they are selecting their candidates for the presidency.

Even if party-list wins…

“They should invest some time and research on candidates. That includes the party-list,” she had said. A Pulse Asia survey released last month showed that 69 percent of voters were unaware of the party-list system.

The resolution said groups seeking to disqualify nominees should file their petitions with the Comelec clerk. The commission en banc will study the petition and decide on its merits.

Nominees found to have failed to meet the criteria would not be allowed to take seats in the House of Representatives should their party-list group win in the May 10 polls.

“If the evidence of guilt is strong, the proclamation of the nominee shall be suspended notwithstanding the fact that his group or organization received the winning number of votes in such election,” the resolution said.

Each party-list group is entitled to a maximum of three seats in the House, but the groups are required to submit the names of at least five nominees by March 26.

The party-list groups have until this Friday to submit their nominees to the Comelec.

Karen Ang

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