The recent disqualification of Aksyon Health Workers Party-List clearly leads us to believe that genuine party-lists, even with a track record of its initiators to boot and members belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sector, could never make the cut just because of contestable technicalities.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Another progressive party-list group under the Makabayan coalition was disqualified by the Commission on Election (Comelec).
The Comelec en banc denied the accreditation of the Aksyon Health Workers Party-list (AHW-PL) on January 21 despite complying with the requirements. Last week, the Comelec also disqualified Manggagawa Partylist, also a member of Makabayan.
“Rigorous as the requirements were, we believed that the Comelec en banc shall put weight on the profile of members and officers, nominees, values, and aspirations of a party-list,” said Dr. Joseph Carabeo, first nominee of the party-list in a statement. “However, the recent disqualification of Aksyon Health Workers Party-list clearly leads us to believe that genuine party-lists, even with a track record of its initiators to boot and members belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sector, could never make the cut just because of contestable technicalities.”
Members of the AHW-PL held an indignation rally outside the Comelec office last January 23 to denounce their group’s disqualification.
According to Carabeo, the Comelec argued that they failed to prove that they belonged to the marginalized sector. But he stressed that although two of the five nominees are doctors, they are not rich as they are community doctors whose services are dedicated to the poor communities.
He also said that their members belong to the marginalized sector such as the underpaid barangay health workers and hospital workers who take on various tasks due to the lack of personnel.
All requirements were also submitted, Carabeo said. As proof of their compliance, Comelec issued a certificate of completion for Carabeo and their group’s legal counsel. “When we were advised to submit additional documents, all of our nominees, staff, chapter officers and members exerted great effort to ensure that such documents were submitted completely,” Carabeo said.
Carabeo accused the Comelec of not reviewing the documents so there is no basis for the decision. “The denial of our party-list to run in the May election is like denying us to be represented in Congress. AHW-PL is the true voice of the health workers and the Filipino people,” Romeo Garcia, president of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) employees union, said.
Carabeo also criticized the Supreme Court for its decision in 2013 that allowed political parties and groups not representing the marginalized or under-represented to participate in the partylist-system elections.
Members of the AHW-PL will not give up the fight as they will bring their case to the Supreme Court.
Party-list nominees associated with Duterte
For this year’s election, election watchdog Kontra Daya observed that there are party-lists whose nominees are recent incumbent government officials. Some are also believed to be supportive of President Duterte “despite their controversial removal from public office.”
According to Kontra Daya, Pambansang Nagkakaisa sa Paggawa at Agrikultura’s first nominee Socrates Pinol is the brother of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol. He is also provincial board member of North Cotabato.
In a statement, Kontra Daya also noted that first and third nominees of Gawing Una Tagumpay ng Ordinaryong Mamamayan also have questionable credibility. “The first nominee, Rex Anthony Villegas, is a former board member of Nayong Filipino who was fired due to a complaint by another board member who happens to be a niece of President Duterte. The third nominee, Maria Katrina Nicole Contacto, is a legal counsel of Duterte in the latter’s disqualification case in the 2016 elections. She is also chair of the Youth Affairs Committee of PDP-Laban.”
Former administrator of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) who resigned due to corruption allegations is the first nominee of the Hugpong Federal Movement of the Philippines. The ABAKADA Party-list first nominee, Jonathan Dela Cruz, is a former board member of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) who was fired due to alleged contract anomalies.
Naella Rose Bainto-Aguinaldo, first nominee of Bahay para sa Pamilyang Pilipino, Inc. was appointed by Duterte in 2017 as member of the Career Executive Service Board.
Ermie Lagman Garon first nominee of Global Workers and Family Federation is a commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) representing the business and industry sector and is a member of the People’s National Movement for Federalism.
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Danilo Lim’s wife, Aloysia Tiongson meanshile is the first nominee of Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa, Inc.
In the initial research of Kontra Daya, the 182 party-list groups may be classified as: 1) those with links to political dynasties or officials already elected in other positions; 2) those representing special business interests; and 3) those with questionable advocacy and nominees.
(DISCLOSURE: Danilo A. Arao, a convenor of Kontra Daya, works as an associate editor of Bulatlat.)