MANILA, Philippines - Fugitive retired Army Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.’s party-list group Bantay has been delisted from the 2013 polls.
Evangeline, wife of Palparan, is Bantay’s number one nominee.
Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan, welcomed the Comelec’s decision.
“Bantay did nothing in Congress but to bark at the progressive members of Congress and those it calls leftist organizations,” she said.
“It does not represent the marginalized. On the contrary, Bantay did nothing but justify the Armed Forces’ rampage against leaders of organizations of marginalized farmers, workers, indigenous peoples, women and youth and communities where these organizations exist.”
Palparan has gone into hiding after being charged in court with kidnapping and serious illegal detention of two missing students, Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Bantay “represents the government’s counterinsurgency program directed against the poor,” Palabay said.
‘Copals’ should be delisted
Communist party-list groups have received some P700 million in pork barrel annually, critics said yesterday.
Pro-democracy groups called again for the disqualification of the Copals or community party-list groups.
Agnes Lopez, People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment (PEACE) president, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) must be able to disqualify Copals if it could remove fake and bogus party-list groups.
“While organizations which espouse, support and/or aid violence against the state are prohibited under Section 6 of the Party List System Act from joining the party-list elections, the Bayan Muna consortium continues to enjoy a close relationship with the Communist Party of the Philippines’ New People’s Army (NPA) is clear violation of the law,” she said.
Lopez said Copals are the creations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as part of its political struggle, to infiltrate, manipulate, and exploit the country’s free and democratic institutions to support its violent armed struggle in the countryside.
“It’s not a coincidence that at a time when the NPA’s numbers are dwindling because of lack of resources and the success of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ anti-insurgency operations, these communist party-lists have multiplied to about 11,” she said.
Lopez added that if a lawmaker gets P70 million in pork barrel funds a year, Copals will be able to channel at least P770 million yearly to support NPA operations.
“The mere fact that they made no public announcement condemning NPA atrocities or its bloody armed struggle is already a giveaway. It is obvious that they must be disqualified,” she added.
PEACE along with the New Guardians for Freedom and Democracy, and Pro Democracy Foundation of the Philippines have filed a complaint with the Comelec to seek the disqualification of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Kabataan, and Katribu Indigenous Peoples Sectoral Party party-list groups from participating in the 2013 polls.
Aquino: No comment on Akbayan
President Aquino has refused to comment on the issue that his sisters have made significant campaign contributions to the party-list group Akbayan, one of five parties in the pro-administration coalition.
“As far as my sisters are concerned, I’ll have to check the records,” he said. “I don’t remember all of the details.”
Aquino was in Australia for a three-day state visit.
At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino’s sisters are also private citizens who can make any contribution to any political party.
“This is a democratic process,” he said.
“The sisters are, and continue up to this day, private citizens. They have a right to contribute to a group which they feel would also support the President’s program of anti-corruption and poverty alleviation.
“It should not come as a surprise, being private citizens, that they choose to support groups which are supportive of the advocacies of the President.”
Based on the Statement of Contribution and Expenditures (SOCE) that Akbayan treasurer Arlene Santos had filed, the party-list group had received some P112 million in campaign contributions in the 2010 polls.
Some P14 million of it came from Aquino’s three sisters.
His youngest sister Kris Aquino made a cash contribution of P10 million on March 10, 2010.
Maria Elena Aquino-Cruz and Victoria Aquino-Dee contributed P2 million each on March 19 and April 5, 2010.
Akbayan ‘not marginalized’
Akbayan no longer represents a marginalized sector because its officials and members now occupy top government posts, Anakbayan said yesterday.
Speaking to reporters at the weekly Rembrandt news forum, Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan spokesman, said at least 11 officials of Akbayan are occupying top government posts. Among them are Commission on Human Rights chairman Etta Rosales and national security adviser Ronal Llamas.
Crisostomo said an Akbayan official occupies a seat in the Government Service Insurance Sytem board and practically all consultants at the National Poverty Commission are Akbayan members.
“The government has paid at least P27 million consultancy fee to the 91 Akbayan members hired as consultants,” he said.
Crisostomo said they have already submitted to the Comelec documents to prove their allegations.
“It’s now up to the Comelec to act on our complaint,” he said.
Crisostomo said since Akbayan is now the most represented group in government they can now be considered a political party.
“In the 2010 election Akbayan has publicly denounced party-list groups identified with Malacañang, they should be consistent in their stand,” he said.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said the SOCE only proved Akbayan was already well entrenched in the Aquino administration, and must not be allowed to join the 2013 polls as a party-list group.
However, Aquino told reporters in Sydney, Australia the Comelec had assessed Akbayan and deemed it qualified to run as party-list group representing the marginalized sectors.
“They can demonstrate it like the lucky farmers, amongst others... It’s one thing to ask for the delisting (but) maybe it’s another thing to prove it,” he said.
“They are allied with us but it doesn’t make them any less representative of marginalized sectors.”
Aquino also said the campaign spending of Akbayan should not be an issue as long as laws were not violated.
“If you’re a marginal party or a party who is representing a marginalized sector, you’re not entitled to have supporters?” he said.
Lacierda said the question should be: Are the present party-list representatives effective in advocating concerns of the marginalized?
“I think that’s one of the issues that a party-list group should address,” he said. - With Rhodina Villanueva, Aurea Calica, Perseus Echeminada, Delon Porcalla