Administration lawmaker defends party-list group
By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – A veteran administration lawmaker scored The STAR yesterday for labeling his party-list group as among those with “questionable goals.”
“This is already below the belt. This is even very selective. And it was not even arranged in alphabetical manner,” Alagad party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta complained to The STAR executives.
He was referring to the “Know your party-list” item that appeared in the daily’s front page yesterday. The item is a partial checklist of party-list groups aiming for House seats in the coming polls. The STAR aims to update the list daily, depending on records the groups submit to the Commission on Elections.
Groups tagged by civil society group Kontra Daya as having “questionable goals” are marked with asterisks in The STAR checklist.
“Why is The STAR allowing itself to be used by Kontra Daya which is a very dubious organization?” Marcoleta asked. “These kinds of groups have suddenly sprouted and we don’t even know who they are and who they are representing. They should come out,” he said.
“How can my goals be questionable? What’s questionable about my goals? Well, they will all be disappointed because I will be re-elected,” the two-term congressman, who is seeking re-election in the May 10 polls, said.
Marcoleta was the congressman who endorsed in 2005 the alleged bogus impeachment complaint of Marcos loyalist Oliver Lozano against President Arroyo, which prevented the filing of a stronger and more legitimate complaint. He has since denied this, however.
Last February, before the campaign season started, Marcoleta complained that Comelec had been showing its bias toward militant or left-leaning party-list organizations.
Marcoleta of Alagad, who represents the Iglesia ni Cristo bloc in the House, said even Comelec sample ballots – such as one posted on its website – included the names of leftist party-list groups like the Anakpawis.
“I’m asking why? Not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times. Is this not bias towards a particular group?” he stressed. He disclosed that this sample ballot can be seen in the Comelec’s website, which only gives other groups undue advantage over the rest of them.
Marcoleta also observed that the presidential candidates in the sample ballots are all members of the Aquino clan – Benigno Aquino Sr., Benigno Aquino Jr. and Corazon Aquino.
“Is this not obvious bias in favor of one candidate? And this can be seen everytime, or whenever people open the Comelec website,” the administration lawmaker pointed out. Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III has been a consistent survey topnotcher.
As many of the country’s 190 party-list groups scrounge for nominees, Rep. Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna said government officials who are party-list nominees have to resign or face disqualification, as stipulated in a recent Supreme Court ruling.
An ABS-CBN-Newsbreak report showed that there are at least 25 bureaucrats, aside from elective officials, who want to enter Congress through the backdoor – or through the party-list system.
Casiño also urged the Comelec to immediately disqualify nominees who are not fit to represent the groups they want to speak for in the legislature.
Bayan Muna and Akbayan have filed separate disqualification cases against presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, the first nominee of a party-list group called Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP), which is supposedly composed of security guards and tricycle drivers.
The Comelec has required Arroyo and other nominees to submit speeches or articles proving their advocacies for the groups they want to represent.
But according to Akbayan, Arroyo has failed to comply with the Comelec requirement.
Akbayan said it is not aware of any speech or article President Arroyo’s son has made to advance the welfare of security guards and tricycle drivers.
Other groups are seeking the disqualification of former Energy secretary Angelo Reyes, first nominee of the group 1-Utak (United Transport Koalisyon).
Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raoul Victorino clarified yesterday that he has withdrawn his nomination from a party-list group immediately after his appointment to the Palace “out of delicadeza.”
“The records in the Comelec will bear me out,” Victorino told The STAR. “I don’t want any misimpression to be created by this (Newsbreak) report,” he said.
Victorino said his name was included among the nominees of the party-list “Ama” when he was still “jobless” after his retirement as associate justice of the Sandiganbayan. – With Paolo Romero and Jess Diaz