Questionable partylist groups accredited again by Comelec, says Bayan

News Release

January 21, 2010

Questionable partylist groups accredited again by Comelec

At least nine partylist groups with linked to the administration have been accredited by the Commission on Elections according to militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. The group said that this was only an initial listing and could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Bayan based its findings on a list drafted by poll watchdog Kontra Daya in 2007 and on a 2006 memorandum from the Office on External Affairs in Malacanang which identified administration partylist groups to be supported (see attachments).

According to Bayan, those partylist groups previously identified with the administration who have been recently accredited for 2010 include :

1.       Agbiag Timpuyo Ilokano (AGBIAG) – previously cited in OEA memo

2.       Ahon Pinoy (AHON) – previous nominee was Dante “Klink” Ang II, son of Dante Ang who chaired the Commission on Filipinos Overseas

3.       Akbay Pinoy OFW-National (APOI) – previous nominees included former Arroyo DILG officials

4.       Aangat Ating Kabuhayan Filipinas (ANAK)- previous nominee included an official of PNP-NCRPO

5.       Babae para sa Kaunalaran (Babae Ka) – previously cited in OEA memo

6..       Bigkis Pinoy Movement (BIGKIS) – identified with PAGCOR chair Efraim Genuino

7.       Byaheng Pinoy Labor Association (Byaheng Pinoy) – previous nominee was brother of former COMELEC chair Abalos

8.       Kalahi Sectoral Party (KALAHI)- previously cited in OEA memo

9.       League of Youth for Peace Advancement (LYPAD)- previously cited in OEA memo

“Four of the partylist groups: Agbiag, Babae Ka, Kalahi and LYPAD, were previously cited in a memo from the Office of External Affairs in October 16, 2006. They were then considered the four main partylist groups to be supported by the administration in the 2007 polls and were supposed to receive Palace funding according to the OEA memo. Receiving official funding from the government should already be a basis for disqualification,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“These groups have been accredited  again despite previous questions on their qualifications as legitimate partylist groups. In contrast, COMELEC has made it difficult for the legitimate partylist groups like Ang Ladlad, Migrante, ACT and Courage to get immediate accreditation,” Reyes added.

Ang Ladlad has been included in the list of partylist groups only after a Supreme Court restraining order on the Comelec. Meanwhile, ACT was only recently accredited after it was initially disqualified.

The militant suspects said that Arroyo may be attempting to use the party-list system to form a power-block in Congress which will include her, other Arroyo family members and former Arroyo cabinet officials. “This power block may be used to push for charter change so that Arroyo can be back on top as Prime Minister,” Reyes said.

Bayan also cited the Bigkis Pinoy Movement (BIGKIS) identified with PAGCOR chair Efraim Genuino as another questionable partylist group accredited by the Comelec. The group’s previous nominees include PAGCOR officials Edward King and Ramon Agoncillo, consultants Mario Cornista (2001), Ismael Tabo (2004), and Tomas Toledo (2007)and Sheryl Genuino-See, the daughter of PAGCOR chair Genuino. The group has failed to get elected to Congress the past three elections.

“It is thus anomalous that this partylist group that has failed to get elected the last three polls is allowed to run again. Isn’t it the rule that if a partylist group fails to participate or obtain at least 2% of the votes cast under the party-list system in the 2 preceding elections, they are to be delisted? Why is it that that rule doesn’t seem to apply to a partylist group that is identified with PAGCOR and Genuino?” Reyes said.

“Is the COMELEC giving special treatment and consideration for partylist groups identified with the administration?” the Bayan leader added.

Kontra-Daya in its 2007 list also cited groups Aangat Tayo (AT), BANAT, Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) and Kasangga sa Kaunlaran (Ang Kasangga) as partylist groups identified with the adminstration. These groups have since been given seats in Congress after a Supreme Court ruling on the appropriation of seats under the partylist system.

Ang Kasangga’s congressional representative is a sister of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. BANTAY’s representative is notorious human rights violator Gen. Jovito Palparan who claims to represent security guards and baranggay tanods. ANAD meanwhile is a group dedicated to fighting communism. Both ANAD and BANTAY are believed to be supported by the military. BANAT meanwhile has recently endorsed administration presidential bet Gilbert Teodoro.

“The partylist system is supposed to be for the marginalized or underrepresented. However, over the past years, through the efforts of Arroyo and the COMELEC, the partylist system has been undermined and corrupted to favor the incumbent in Malacanang,” Reyes said.

“We have been getting persistent reports that another Arroyo family member is poised to become a partylist nominee. It is really sad that the COMELEC has turned a blind eye to these abuses of the partylist system,” Reyes added.

Bayan said that various poll watchdogs will closely monitor the partylist groups and will seek the disclosure of nominees by the Comelec. It said that it has been the administration’s strategy to field many partylsit groups to draw votes away from legitimate partylist groups, many of which are anti-Arroyo.

“The disclosure of partylist nominees is a crucial aspect of transparency in the elections. We can better analyze and pinpoint the pseudo –partylist groups if the Comelec makes public the nominees.

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