MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-one incumbent party-list groups have shut down their offices nationwide this week to protest fellow party-list group Bayan Muna's move to seek their exclusion from the elections next year.
House Accounts Committee chairman Florencio Bem Noel, representative of An Waray regional party-list, identified the groups as Senior Citizens, Ako Bicol, 1CARE, Bagong Henerasyon, ABONO, AGAP, ALE, CIBAC, Aba Mindanao, Butil, Coop Natco, AANGAT Tayo, ANAD, A Teachers, AGHAM, AA Kasosyo, AAMBIS OWA , ALAGAD, ALIF, AN-WARAY and APEC.
Six other groups will also close their offices this week to join the protest against Bayan Muna. These are PBA, YACAP, AVE, Buhay, KAKUSA and LPGMA.
The Commission on Elections is currently purging the party-list system of groups that do not qualify as marginalized sectors, which the party-list law seeks to be represented in the House of Representatives.
Noel said pro-administration Akbayan did not join their effort.
He said he called for a meeting of the party-list representatives Monday wherein he explained his decision to shut down An Waray’s offices nationwide this week and send those who are getting help from them to Bayan Muna to prove a point.
The other party-list groups decided to follow An Waray's lead, Noel said.
Bayan Muna's Kontra Daya watchdog allies wrote a letter to the Commission on Elections months ago to seek the disqualification of several party-list groups, which Noel felt was disrespectful to them.
"Nung una, they’ve been telling us na 'ito sinasabi ng Kontra Daya, wala naman kaming inaano.' Live and let live, kumbaga may respeto na. We've been through elections with them, against them, tapos mga kaibigan natin. Tapos sinama kami sa Kontra Daya citing reasons napakababaw like my association with the Petillas and I'm married to Congresswoman Josephine Lacson-Noel," Noel said. "I only passed 6 bills, 6 laws, co-authorship iyung iba. Does that make you a better party-list than us?"
"Legitimacy, dahil multi-millionaire kami ni (An Waray) Congressman (Neil) Montejo. Iyung iba niyo, hindi ganun din naman 'di ba? We’ve been passive for the past 2 weeks. Ipapaintindi ko sa amin sa mga humihingi ng tulong, one step backward 2 steps forward. We will make sure serbisyo tuloy-tuloy. We closed our offices suspending our services. We directed them to Bayan Muna. Kayo legtimate eh. Kami 'di raw nakakatulong. Aber, subukan namin. They're suffering now," he added.