Mikey’s party-list bid hits snag in new guidelines
MANILA, Philippines – A bid by President Arroyo’s son, Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, to remain a member of Congress through the party-list elections could be jeopardized by new Commission on Elections (Comelec) guidelines on screening party-list organizations.
According to Comelec Resolution 8806, a nominee should be “one who belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent; and able to contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole.”
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that under the guidelines, the party-list nominees must submit evidence to prove that they are members of the marginalized sector including speeches and articles about that advocacy.
He said that in the case of Mikey Arroyo, the President’s son must prove that he is a member of the marginalized sector that he wishes to represent in Congress. Arroyo has been named as the nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP), which seeks to represent security guards and tricycle drivers in Congress.
“What we are saying here is that a person who wants to represent a party-list group as the nominee has to show that he is part of the party-list group. If he is not a tricycle driver and the party-list group is representing tricycle drivers, it would look like there are grounds for his disqualification,” he said in an ANC interview.
Jimenez said the party-list nominee should have the tools to make laws that will benefit the sector that he is representing. He said the nominee should have a track record of participation in activities involving that particular sector. “By that definition, someone like a parent of a disabled child could possibly squeak past the requirement. It will have to be on a case to case basis,” he said.
He said the same argument could be made in the case of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes who is running as the party-list nominee of 1-UTAK, a group representing the transport sector.
“If he can show that [his post as DOE chief] can be equated to him belonging to a marginalized sector, I suppose he could make that argument…It seems as a whole, the guidelines require a more personal connection to the underrepresented sectors,” he said.
Under the new guidelines, party-list groups must submit documentary evidence to prove that their group advances the causes of marginalized sectors. Party-list groups must also prove their nominees adhere to the principles and advocacies of the group by submitting copies of declarations, speeches and articles made by nominees.
Party-list nominees should be members of the party-list group 90 days before the polls. There should aso be proof that the nominees are not only advocates of the party-list groups but also bona fide members of the marginalized sectors they represent.
Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said a nominee could be disqualified if a petition for disqualification is filed against him within 5 days after the last day of filing for party-list nominees. The deadline for the May polls is March 26.
Nominees could also be disqualified if they are nominees of more than one party, if they have not given their written consent or oath to be nominees, and if they are candidates for other positions or lost in the previous election.
The other qualifications are based on Republic Act 7941 or the Party-List System Act: nominees should be Filipino citizens, registered voters, residents of the Philippines for not less than a year before the elections, literate, and aged 25 and above.
Sarmiento described the resolution as a modest effort of the Comelec using its plenary powers to fine-tune the party-list law, which he said badly needs improvement.
“We have all these problems because of un-fine-tuned provisions,” he said, adding that the law should have been fine-tuned by Congress a long time ago.
Disqualification case filed vs Arroyo
Two party-list lawmakers on Thursday filed a disqualification case against Mikey Arroyo as a party-list group nominee, saying that there is no way that Arroyo could claim to represent security guards and tricycle drivers.
In their petition, Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza said party-list organizations including their nominees must factually and truly represent the marginalized and underrepresented constituencies.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño earlier noted that Arroyo cannot be a member of the party-list group because he is currently a ranking member of the ruling party Lakas-Kampi-CMD.
“He has always been a leader of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD. He is a representative in Congress as a ranking member of Lakas-Kampi-CMD. I don’t know when he decided to switch parties,” he said.
Casiño said their group is also planning to seek the disqualification of other party-list nominees, including Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, who is being considered by transport group 1-UTAK as their nominee for the May 10 elections.
He said Reyes’s pending nomination would be ironic since most members of various transport groups are angry at him for his failure to stop oil price increases since he was appointed secretary of the Department of Energy.
Casiño and other members of the opposition believe that the party-list and district representation bids of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her allies, including her son, is a clear sign that the administration is attempting to form a “very powerful block” at the House of Representatives.
The other Arroyos seeking congressional posts are Mrs. Arroyo’s son Diosdado “Dato” in Camarines Sur, brother-in-law Ignacio “Iggy” for the 5th district of Negros Occidental, and sister-in-law Marilou for party-list Ang Kasangga.