MANILA - An official of the Commission on Elections on Monday said a party composed of soldiers behind unsuccessful coups in the Philippines could still appeal a Comelec ruling rejecting their application to be a regional political party.
Comelec law department chairman Ferdinand Rafanan said the Magdalo Para Sa Pagbabago could file a motion for reconsideration on their appeal for accreditation. "They can submit a motion and the Commission en banc will decide within 30 days if there is merit in their petition," Rafanan said in an ABS-CBN interview.
The Magdalo group of officers, some of whose leaders remain in jail and on trial for a 2003 mutiny, wanted to be recognized as a party so it could field candidates for local government posts in next year's national elections.
The Comelec, however, ruled the Magdalo founders "still harbor the propensity to engage in another illegal adventure similar to the failed mutiny six years ago should they again fail to achieve their goal".
The commission said the planned political party "may very well be used by them to recruit and indoctrinate disciplined followers who may become their blind followers."
Magdalo spokesman Francisco Acedillo, meanwhile, protested the ruling since it showed that the poll body had already judged that the party would try to use violent means to get power. He said the group is committed to the country's democratic processes, which is why it applied for accreditation.
The group is led by former officer Antonio Trillanes IV, who quit the Philippine Navy and won a seat in the Senate in the 2007 polls in a campaign run from his military prison cell. The courts have since rejected his bid to leave the prison so he could perform his duties as an elected official.
Another jailed senior leader of the group, Philippine Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, has announced plans to run for the Senate. Other Magdalo members have said they will run for other positions in the May, 2010 elections.
The election commission ruling does not prevent the Magdalo officers from running as individuals or as members of other accredited parties.
The group rose up in arms and took over part of Manila's financial district in Makati in 2003 as part of an attempt to force the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo, whom they accused of corruption.
The mutiny was crushed as the group surrendered after failing to rally the rest of the Armed Forces behind them, and 54 of the officers were later released as part of a plea-bargain in a military court.
Twenty-nine others, including Lim and Trillanes, remain on trial for the 2003 action as well as a second, alleged plot against Arroyo in February 2006. With Agence France-Presse