MANILA, Philippines – Poll commissioners are split on whether or not to disqualify party-list groups that are known allies of President Benigno Aquino III, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said Monday.
Brillantes hinted at a possible ruling on the Akbayan party-list group amid calls by leftist groups to disqualify the party as well as the Black and White Movement.
Asked about allegations the poll body is favoring Palace-allied party-list groups, he said: "No way. When the final listing comes ou,t they will realize we're not favoring anybody.”
"Akbayan has been existing for a long time. I'm not saying they're going to be approved, denied or granted. Nakabitin yan. May debate. Lalo na (Black and White Movement),” he added.
Akbayan is a member of the Liberal Party-led coalition for the 2013 mid-term elections. Former Akbayan party-list congresswoman Risa Hontiveros is part of the LP senatorial ticket. Hontiveros already ran for senator in 2010 and was endorsed both by President Aquino and his sister, actress Kris Aquino.
Akbayan's other members hold key positions in government. It has 2 members in the Cabinet: Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Llamas and National Anti-Poverty Commission Chair Joel Rocamora.
Loretta Rosales is chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights while Mario Aguja is a board member of the Government Service Insurance System.
Two of Akbayan’s nominees for Congress in the 2013 elections are Palace undersecretaries Ibarra M. Gutierrez III, now the undersecretary for political affairs, and Angelina Ludovice-Katoh, now a commissioner in the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.
The Black and White Movement is a new applicant for party-list accreditation. It is headed by former Tourism Undersecretary Vicente Romano and has nominated MTRCB member Leah Navarro as congressman for the 2013 elections.
Members of the movement are Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Peace Adviser Teresita deles, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda , former Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
In previous elections, some groups including Ang Galing Pinoy, were criticized for being allowed to run in the party-list system despite their closeness to the Arroyo administration.
There are 172 new applicants for accreditation, of which 28 have been denied by the Comelec divisions and did not seek reconsideration.
Earlier in the morning, Anakbayan President Vencer Crisostomo called on the poll body not to give Palace allies undue favor and deny them accreditation for the 2013 party-list elections.
Anakbayan already filed a disqualification case against Akbayan.
Anakpawis led members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives in a protest march from Intramuros to the Comelec office to protest the alleged special treatment to Akbayan and the use of the multisectoral nature of some groups in excluding them from the party-list elections.
The group argued that for so long as the sectors represented are marginalized, their multi-sectoral nature should not be a basis.