MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chairman Sixto Brillantes sees nothing wrong with President Aquino's sisters being donors to party-list group Akbayan.
Brillantes issued this statement on Friday after it was revealed that Aquino's youngest sister, Kris, was Akbayan's largest donor in the 2010 elections.
Akbayan party-list group received P112 million in campaign contributions for the 2010 national elections. Of this amount, P14 million came from three of President Aquino's sisters.
Kristina Bernadette Aquino-Yap was listed as the party's biggest contributor, giving P10 million for the campaign.
Maria Elena "Ballsy" Aquino Cruz and Victoria Aquino-Dee each gave P2 million.
Aquino, speaking to reporters in Australia during his state visit, defended his sisters for the contribution.
"Basta hindi ka nagva-violate… 'nung spending limits, is that an issue? 'Yun bang 'pag marginal party ka ba or a party who is representing a marginalized sector you're not entitled to have supporters? How does a political party exist without supporters? As far as my sisters are concerned, I'll have to check the records…I don't remember all of the details," Aquino said.
Nevertheless, Brillantes said the Comelec is taking into consideration the campaign contributions received by party-list groups in the ongoing accreditation process for the 2013 elections.
Meanwhile, Brillantes said the poll body will no longer allow the sharing of a national candidate and a party-list group of a single airtime cost, as what then presidential candidate Aquino and Akbayan did in 2010.
The Comelec chief said the sharing of airtime cost was allowed in 2010 because the law was wrongly interpreted.
The Aquino family's relation with the party-list was put under the spotlight after critics said that Akbayan is no longer a representative to a marginalized sector since its officials are already well-entrenched in the government.
Akbayan's party list accreditation as a representative of various marginalized sectors is now under review by the Comelec.
It is facing an opposition from Anakbayan and a formal disqualification case from Kontra-Daya on the ground that it no longer represents a marginalized sector.
Akbayan’s critics have cited the party’s links to the Aquino administration. Several of Akbayan’s leaders are now in government including Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Llamas, Anti-Poverty Commission Chair Joel Rocamora and Commission on Human Rights chief Loretta Rosales. – report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News