Ron Salo

Millionaires to represent ‘balut’ vendors in House

Millionaires to represent ‘balut’ vendors in House
By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—They properly belong to the party set, not to a party-list representing a so-called marginalized sector.

Among the nominees of Ang Kasangga, the party-list group of First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo’s sister, are multimillionaires and influential people, not balut vendors and other micro-entrepreneurs, administration critics said yesterday.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the first two nominees of Ang Kasangga—Teodorico T. Haresco and Eugenio V. Lacson—are multimillionaires linked to the Arroyo administration.

“They do not fall within the category of micro-entrepreneurs,” he said.

“The law and Commission on Elections guidelines are clear: A party-list nominee must not only be an advocate of the sector it is representing,” Bayan and the poll watchdog Kontra Daya said in a joint statement.

“The nominee must belong to the marginalized sector,” it said.

In its website, Ang Kasangga claims it represents micro-entrepreneurs.

In the House of Representatives, it is represented by Maria Lourdes Arroyo, sister of the First Gentleman.

Her “entry into Congress drew heavy criticism because it was alleged she did not represent small business. It was during this period that Ang Kasangga defended her, saying she represented small businessmen, including balut vendors,” noted Reyes.

The party-list group defines micro-entrepreneurs as “those with individual capital of P3 million and below.”

‘Bridges to nowhere’

“If Ang Kasangga’s nominees are allowed to stand as nominees, what will prevent big business interests to seek or even buy a seat in Congress in the future?” said Reyes.

Haresco is a member of the board of directors of the state-run Philippine National Oil Co., said Reyes. He was reportedly involved in the President’s controversial Bridge Program which has drawn criticism for allegedly being the “bridges to nowhere.”

Among many other things, Haresco is chair and chief executive officer of Winace Holdings Philippines, which is involved in the acquisition and sale of stocks, bonds and investment securities, Reyes said.

Lacson is a three-term city mayor and is ranked No. 79 among the top 100 stockholders of Fidelity Stock Transfers Inc. Others in the list are businessman Luciano Tan and several members of the Ortigas and Villonco families, all of whom are not considered micro-entrepreneurs, Reyes also said.

Lacson was being considered by the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD as a vice gubernatorial candidate in Negros Occidental for the May elections before he decided to run under the party-list system.

Arroyo-linked groups

There are at least 14 other party-list groups with links to the Arroyo administration, according to Reyes:

• Ang Galing Pinoy, whose first nominee is Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo. The group’s other nominees are Mayor Dennis Pineda of Lubao, Pampanga, and Mayor Romeo Dungca of Bacolor, Pampanga. The party, formerly known as Guardians Anti-Crime, Pro-People Organization, claims to represent security guards, tricycle drivers and vendors.

• 1-Utak, party-list of the transport sector, whose nominees include former Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes and lawyer Vigor Mendoza, ex-official of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

• Batang Iwas Droga, BIDA, which says in its website it was the “brainchild” of Efraim Genuino, chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). Its nominees include Efraim’s daughter Sheryl Genuino-See; businessman Johnny Tan and Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio, currently a nominee for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

• Kabayan, which claims to represent transport sector workers, farmers and fisherfolk, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, anticrime crusaders, and overseas Filipino workers, among others. Its nominees include Ron Salo, former subordinate of ex-Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

• Pacyaw, which claims to represent urban poor youth, has tourism assistant secretary Janet Rita Lazatin and former consul Reynaldo Pineda as nominees.

“Also in the list are Association of Labor and Employees, Abot Tanaw, APO 1, Bantay True Marcos Loyalists, Aangat Tayo, Abono, Abante Tribung Makabansa, Alliance of People’s Organizations, and Anad, an “anticommunist group believed to be supported by the Armed Forces,” Reyes added.