Kontra Daya: Comelec Shouldn’t Shift Blame on Dubious Party-lists’ Accreditation

News Release
March 16, 2010

The anti-fraud group Kontra Daya today told the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not to shift the blame in relation to the accreditation of six party-list groups that, according to the watchdog, should be disqualified from participating in the May 2010 elections.

In a dialogue yesterday with Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, Kontra Daya conveners Fr. Joe Dizon, Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, Mo. Mary John Mananzan, Renato Reyes Jr., and Grace Poe-Llamanzares presented a letter addressed to Comelec Chairman Jose Melo, seeking the disqualification of the following party-list groups: Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA), Adhikain ng mga Dakilang Anak ng Maharlika (ADAM), Agbiag Timpuyog Ilocano (AGBIAG), Babae para sa Kaunalaran (BABAE KA), League of Youth for Peace and Development (LYPAD), and Kalahi Advocates for Overseas Filipinos (KALAHI).

BIDA declares in its own website (www.bida.org.ph) that it is “the brainchild of Ephraim Genuino, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).” PAGCOR, in partnership with the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Department of Education (DepEd), launched BIDA in 2003 as an anti-drug campaign for elementary school students.

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ADAM has for its first nominee Energy Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, nephew of former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. Undersecretary Ampatuan has himself declared that he formed ADAM as “(his) own” party-list group, while at the same time denying that it has anything to do with the powerful Ampatuan clan.

AGBIAG, BABAE KA, LYPAD, and KALAHI were identified as in a 2006 memorandum from Malacañang’s Office of External Affairs (OEA) as the main organizations to be supported in a party-list campaign that intended to support “pro-administration” party-list groups and secure for them 9-12 seats in Congress.

The five signatories of the letter to Melo cited Sec. 2 of Republic Act No. 7941, also known as the Party-List System Act, which provides that:

“The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.”

They also pointed to the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2001 case Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections, et al, which states that:

“x x x (The) party or organization must not be an adjunct of, or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by, the government. By the very nature of the party-list system, the party or organization must be a group of citizens, organized by citizens and operated by citizens. It must be independent of the government. The participation of the government or its officials in the affairs of a party-list candidate is not only illegal and unfair to other parties, but also deleterious to the objective of the law: to enable citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors and organizations to be elected to the House of Representatives.”

Interviewed by reporters after the dialogue, Larrazabal however said, “They have been given opportunities to oppose these organizations’ registration.” He added that there was nothing much the Comelec can do about the party-list groups mentioned in the Kontra Daya letter since they had been accredited a long time ago.

“Commissioner Larrazabal should not shift the blame to us,” Dizon said. “It is the Comelec’s job to throughly screen all party-list groups applying for accreditation.”

“Existing law and jurisprudence are very clear on what kind of groups may or may not be allowed to participate in the race for party-list positions,” Dizon added. “They could have disqualified these groups motu propio. We don’t see why these groups cannot be disqualified even now, as long as the bases for disqualification are there.” #

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