MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - One of the topnotchers in the 2010 party-list elections and the party-list group of Mikey Arroyo are among those which will no longer be allowed to run in the 2013 elections, the Commission on Elections said Wednesday.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the accreditation of Ako Bicol Party, currently with 3 seats in the House of Representatives, and 12 other existing party-list groups have been revoked by the commission en banc.
The accreditation of the groups was revoked unanimously, though Commissioner Grace Padaca took no part since she had just been appointed to the body.
Brillantes said Ang Galing Pinoy, a party-group of security guards represented by Mikey Arroyo, will also see its accreditation revoked.
The 13 groups who were disqualified Wednesday are:
- Ako Bicol
- 1-BRO Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc (1-BRO PGBI)
- 1Guardians Nationalist of the Philippines, Inc. (1GANAP/GUARDIANS)
- First People's Initiative for Indigent Student Athletes (1st PRISA)
- A Blessed Partylist
- Alliance for National Urban Poor Organizations Assembly Inc (ANUPA)
- Alliance for Rural Concerns (ARC)
- Association for Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership (ARAL)
- Atong Paglaum
- Organization of Regional Advocates for Good Governance Onward Nation-Building (ORAGON)
- United Movement Against Drug Foundation Inc (UNIMAD)
- Yes We Can
Ako Bicol is currently represented in the 15th Congress by Christopher Co, Rodel Batocabe and Alfredo Garbin. "They can continue to serve their terms until June 30, 2013," Brillantes said in an ANC interview.
For 2011, Co declared a net worth of P91,063,195.68; Batocabe declared a net worth of P30,237,702.50; while Garbin declared a net worth of P9,680,000.00.
Witchhunt vs GMA allies?
Meantime, Ako Bicol Rep. Batocabe is shocked with the decision of the Comelec to disqualify their party from running in the 2013 elections.
In a phone interview, Batocabe said the Comelec decision is very unfortunate for their group and for their constituents who overwhelmingly voted them to Congress, placing first in the party-list elections in 2010.
The party-list lawmaker questioned why the group is being used as a test case after Brillantes reportedly said Ako Bicol can question the Comelec's decision in the Supreme Court.
House minority Leader Danilo Suarez said that if most of the party-list groups that are being disqualified are affiliated with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, then it can be concluded that the administration is doing a witchunt against allies of Mrs. Arroyo.
Reasons for revocation
In its resolution, the commission en banc said Ako Bicol does not represent or seek to uplift a marginalized and underrepresented sector within the contemplation of the party-list system as stated in the case of Ang Bagong Bayani OFW labor party vs. Commission on Elections.
It says that the Bicolano ethic group which the group seeks to represent does not belong to the 110 groups recognized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
It also noted that the representatives, Co (a businessman), Batocabe and Garbin (lawyers) are not marginalized. The decision keeps Ako Bicol’s registration as a political party.
Brillantes explained that the strongest basis for the cancellation of Ako Bicol’s accreditation is that it is a registered political party and does not represent a sector.
Brillantes explained that registered political parties must file a separate petition to run in the party-list elections, which it did not do.
Brillantes added while Ako Bicol represents the Bicolano region, that is a redundancy of the functions of district representatives.
Prior to this, the Comelec already revoked the accreditation of 27 others .
Brillantes hoped Ako Bicol will use the opportunity to take their case to the Supreme Court so the High Court can rule on the validity of the Comelec’s decision.
The Comelec is also set to rule on the fate of the accreditation of some 100 groups. Brillantes sees the cancellation of 40 other existing groups. -- with a report from Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News