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Comelec disqualifies party list groups

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.26
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After a review by its First and Second Divisions to eliminate dubious groups organized by politicians and influential families, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified last week 17 organizations that sought to be accredited to participate in next year's party list elections. The organizations deemed not qualified for not meeting the standards for Party List groups set forth by the Constitution and the Party List Act are the following: Addicts and Alcoholics Carrying the Message Association, the Asosasyon ng Mangangalakal (Askal), United Philippine Transport Tricycle, Trisikad, Habal-Habal Operators and Drivers Association, 1-Aangat Ka Pinoy, Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation, Aksyon Mahirap, Aniban ng Magtutubig ng Pilipinas, Aurora Integrated Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Ang Nagkakaisang Alay sa Bayan ng Maka-Diyos at Makabayang Nangangalakal, Sararong Bicolnon, Ako at ang Basura Movement, Alliance for Democracy and Morality-Bantay Pasahero, National Crusaders for Peace and Democracy, Mindanao Allied Forces, Vendors Aggrupation, Philippine Banana Pioneer Foundation Inc. and Bangon Mangingisda.

There were 289 groups that originally sought accreditation, 165 of which are new, according to the Comelec. According to Comelec chairperson Sixto Brillantes, Jr., they are aware that many of the groups were organized by wealthy and powerful people who handpicked nominees who were former government officials of members of political clans. The Comelec recently passed a resolution authorizing a review of the party list groups, to disqualify those not representing marginalized and underrepresented sectors as set forth by law, namely: labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals.

To help cleanse the list of party list hopefuls, election watchdog Kontra Daya has compiled a database of dubious party list organizations and submitted it to the Comelec, and which the Comelec uses as one of its guides in reviewing the eligibility of the applicants. Kontra Daya's list includes Ang Kasangga Party-list, whose representative, the watchdog says, is the owner of several businesses and is one of the richest in the House of Representatives. Another group, Ang Mata'y Alagaan (AMA), which claims to represent blind people and those affected with all kinds of eye diseases and disorders, have Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco's wife and daughter as nominees. In August, several petitioners wrote the Comelec asking for the disqualification of winning Party-List group Citizens' Battle Against Corruption (Cibac), claiming that all their four nominees for the 2013 polls are either personally connected to former presidential candidate / televangelist Eddie Villanueva, or are members of Villanueva's Jesus Is Lord Movement. Villanueva's son Emmanuel Joel Villanueva is now Secretary of TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Authority) and recently abandoned his plan to run for the Senate in 2013.

Apart from Kontra Daya's database and the nominees, the Comelec said they also look at track record, history, membership, and source of organization funding to determine the eligibility of the party list applicants. For groups that have sitting nominees in the House of Representatives, the Comelec also check their projects, the bills that they authored and how they spent their pork barrel.

The disqualified groups may appeal their rejection, according to the Comelec. The Comelec targets the second week of October for the release of the list of qualified party list groups after review and deliberations.

(Sources: PDI and Rappler)
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