Around 70 percent of party-list groups are being used by the rich and powerful as a backdoor to further entrench their political and economic interests.
Election watchdog Kontra Daya said in a statement released Thursday that it has flagged at least 120 out of 177 party-list groups as being identified with political clans and big businesses, as well as for having incumbent local officials, connections with the government and military, unknown or unclear advocacies and representations; and having pending court cases and criminal charges (including being implicated in pork barrel scams).
Every election cycle, Kontra Daya said its team of researchers analyzes the profiles of the 177 party-list groups, focusing on their declared advocacies, track record in public service and background of their party-list nominees.
In the 2019 party-list elections, it has flagged at least 62 out of 134 party-list groups, or almost 50 percent.
“There are at least 44 party-list groups controlled by political clans and at least 21 have connections with big business. On the other hand, at least 34 were found to have unknown or unclear advocacies and representations; at least 32 have connections with the government or military; at least 26 have incumbent local officials running as party-list nominees; and at least 19 have pending court cases or criminal charges,” it said.
Kontra Daya identified six categories when flagging the partylist groups. They can be classified as under Political clans, Big businesses, with Unknown or Unclear advocacies and representations, with Government/Military connections, Incumbent local officials as party-list nominees and/or have Pending cases.
The 1987 Constitution gave “labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector” representation in the House of Representatives. Republic Act (RA) 7941 or the Party-list System Act passed in 1995 provides “a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Comelec.”
Under the law, a party-list group that is able to get at least two percent of the total number of votes cast in the party-list election will be entitled to at least one seat in the House of Representatives.
According to Kontra Daya, they have found party-list groups falling not in just one category but in three. Some of the party-list groups Kontra Daya flagged thrice are the following:
- ACT-CIS – topped the 2019 party-list race. Its first nominee Edvic G. Yap, together with incumbent ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap, was included in Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s expose in 2017 about the web of corruption at the Bureau of Customs under Nicanor Faeldon’s leadership. The second nominee Jocelyn P. Tulfo, an incumbent ACT-CIS party-list representative is the wife of Raffy Tulfo. Its fourth nominee, Erwin T. Tulfo, is a brother of former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo who resigned as tourism secretary amid the questionable payment of P60 million for ad placements on the show of her brothers Erwin and Ben.
- Wow Pilipinas’ – its first nominee Genevive L. Reyes is the sitting vice mayor of Caluya, Antique. She was indicted for graft and violation of the Coconut Preservation Act in April 2018. Its second nominee Peter Paul P. Dy, Jr. is national president of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers, managing director of PLD Construction and Development, Inc., president of Mandy Hotmix, Inc., and CEO of Power Frame Development Corporation. He also sits on the board of directors of MAPS Construction, APSI Asphalt Batching Plant Supply, and Mandaue City Green Building Management.
- 4Ps- its first nominee is former Eastern Samar Rep. Marcelino C. Libanan. He was also a former immigration commissioner during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. He was accused of violating Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) in connection with the purchase of 2,164 bags of fertilizer amounting to P3.25 million from Akame Marketing International in April 2004. Their fifth nominee is Jonathan Clement M. Abalos II, nephew of former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Benhur Abalos.
- IPEACEEPANAW is essentially a government’s red-tagging mechanism even if it claims to promote the rights of indigenous peoples. Its first nominee Atty. Reuben Dasay A. Lingating is former chairperson of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and head of Indigenous Peoples Peace Panel in 2017. Its second nominee Atty. Marlon Bosantog used to be director of the NCIP’s legal affairs office and spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). He was declared persona non grata by more than 100 elders and leaders in the Apayao province mainly for red-tagging indigenous people’s organizations and leaders as communist fronts in the Cordillera. Its fourth nominee Ramcy C. Astroveza served as NCIP commissioner while its fifth nominee Engwan S. Ala, Hawudon Datu and municipal chieftain of an indigenous people’s tribe in Carrascal, Surigao del Sur, declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as persona non grata in Surigao del Sur.
- Duterte Youth – its second nominee is Ralph Raymon T. Preza (also known as RR Preza) is a relative of father and son Tiaong Mayor Ramon Abad Preza and Councilor Amboy Preza. In the 2019 election cycle, the party-list group became controversial for misrepresenting the youth; misusing and abusing government resources; and engaging in red-tagging.
Those that will breach the two-percent threshold will be entitled to additional seats proportionate to the votes they received, but the seats for every winning party-list group shall not exceed three.
Those who failed to reach the two percent threshold, however, may still secure a seat in the House of Representatives since the party-list law also requires that 20 percent of the members of the House should come from the party-list ranks.
Kontra Daya asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to explain why “it continues to allow dubious groups to hijack the party-list system, depriving marginalized groups from having a voice at the House of Representatives (HOR).”
It also asked journalists and fact-checkers to investigate whether there are other party-list groups that are funded or supported by the government.
“The MAD Movement is a government initiative. Public funds and other resources were used to support its activities. It is apolitical, involving the participation of the entire citizenry regardless of their political affiliations in pursuing a common vision of a drug-free Philippines,” then Justice Secretary Hernando Perez was quoted as saying by Philstar.com
In 2001, the Supreme Court disqualified the partylist group Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MAD) for not representing any marginalized sector. Incumbent Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez was its chairman and nominee. – Rommel F. Lopez