Comelec admits party-list law abused

By DateLine Philippines

With reports that party-list groups are inviting presidential son Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to run under them in the May elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted Friday the law on party-lists has been abused.

Ferdinand Rafanan, director of Comelec’s law department, admitted that the law on sectoral representation has been poorly implemented as he stressed that the law is clear that a nominee must truly belong to the marginalized sector he or she purports to represent.

Comelec is the institution that accredits party-list groups.

“Required na sila ay bona fide member ng grupo. Iyong totohanan, in good faith, hindi lang nabibili,” Rafanan said over dzMM radio.

In its 2001 ruling on the case of Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. Comelec, the Supreme Court said: “Not only (that) candidate party or organization must represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors, so also must its nominees. To allow otherwise is to betray the State policy to give genuine representation to the marginalized and underrepresented.”

Reyes has been invited by the transport group 1-UTAK while Arroyo has been asked to run under Ang Galing Party, a group that claims to represent public transport drivers and security guards.

Representative Jovito Palparan, a former Army general, represents Ang Bantay, which also claims to represent public transport drivers and security guards.

Asked in which areas the party-list system is defective, Rafanan replied: “Siguro sa implemementation, pwedeng abusuhin. Pero malalaman natin kapag na-submit nila sa March 26 ang list ng nominees.”

Republic Act 7941 or the party-list system law says party-list groups should represent marginalized sectors including labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals.

In the 14th Congress, Rep. Pastor Alcover of ANAD, which represents rebel returnees, is a former soldier. Rep. Agapito Guanlao of the peasant group Butil is a former director of the Cooperative Bank of the Pampanga, which once endorsed Representative Arroyo’s congressional candidacy.

According to her statement of assets, champion equestrienne and Rep. Carissa Coscolluela of BUHAY belongs to the top 10 percent richest members of the House of Representatives, along with the likes of billionaire and Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar.

BUHAY advocates pro-life legislation.

Rafanan said the Comelec has ordered accredited party-list groups to indicate the list of their nominees in their political advertisements.

“Kung hindi ma-disqualify, bahala na ang mga tao kung iboboto nila,” he said.

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