MANILA, Philippines -- Pasang Masda National President Roberto Martin insisted lawyer Ferdinand Topacio is a legitimate party-list nominee.
This, after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced the disqualification of Pasang Masda party-list group for the 2013 elections.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said Topacio cannot represent a group of drivers since he is not a driver. He said Topacio is more known as the lawyer of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel.
In an interview with radio dzMM, Martin clarified that Topacio was a jeepney driver before becoming an operator.
That alone is enough reason to qualify Topacio, he said.
Martin said they call themselves "tsuperators."
"Kami po ay mga driver na naging operator. Tsuper na po kami, operator pa."
"Bawat driver po namin, nag-iipon kami ng aming kita para makabili ng jeep. 'Di po habang panahon ay kami'y driver lang," he added.
Pasang Masda president also claimed that its party-list group represents a marginalized sector.
"Maliwanag na maliwanag na kami ay talagang nagrerepresenta ng sektor namin, ng mga drivers. Talagang kami ho, we belong to the marginalized group... Nagkaroon ka lang pala ng dalawang jeep, 'di ka na marginalized?" Martin asked.
'We were singled out'
Martin also claimed Pasang Masda was singled out by the Comelec.
He said 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK), Pinagka-isang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) party-list groups also have jeepney operators as their nominees.
"Ba't kami lang? Si Topacio ay operator. Nagmaneho po siya ng jeep," Martin said.
"Katulong rin po namin siya sa paghahanap ng mga alternatibong paraan para makatipid kami sa gasolina at saka po 'yung repowering," he added.
Martin said if Topacio was the problem, the Comelec should have told the group during its hearing on Aug. 28 to change its nominee instead of disqualifying the group.
Martin said Pasang Masda will definitely appeal its disqualification before the Supreme Court.