Party-list groups wrangle over disqualification

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 14 2012 11:09 AM | Updated as of Nov 14 2012 07:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino today lashed back at An Waray Rep. Florencio Noel and other party list groups who have closed their offices nationwide this week and directed their constituents to Bayan Muna for assistance to protest Bayan Muna’s allies’ bid to disqualify them from the 2013 party list race.

in a statement, Casino said, “We've never claimed to be the only legitimate PL. We have stated though that there are many fake and unqualified PLs and they should not feel alluded to if they're not. In fact, it is the duty of all PLs to ensure the integrity & credibility of the PL system and help the COMELEC weed out the bogus ones.”

"They should just defend themselves in the COMELEC just as we've been doing and not resort to such actions that will make their constituents suffer unnecessarily," he added.

Casino also said, “We will always be ready to work with other PLs and hope their actions wont get in the way of our duties to our constituents."

Bayan Eastern Visayas Secretary General Jun Berino in an e-mail said that Noel’s action is a “political vendetta” against progressive groups who are questioning their non-filing of legislation with long-term rather than band-aid solutions to deep-rooted problems of the people.

"Aside from portraying himself (Noel) like a brat pleading for public sympathy from being pushed towards the corner, he is actually exposing himself that he lacks real understanding of the Partylist law for reacting in such a manner," said Berino.

On Tuesday, Noel confirmed that 21 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 party list elections next year.

These are 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 represent in the House of Representatives.

Noel said pro-administration Akbayan did not join their effort.

Noel explained that he called a meeting of the party list representatives yesterday where he explained his decision to shut down An Waray’s offices nationwide this week and direct those who are getting help from them to Bayan Muna to prove a point to the progressive party list group. It was then that the other party list groups decided to follow their lead.

Bayan Muna’s allies in Kontra Daya wrote a letter to the COMELEC months ago to seek the disqualification of many of these party list groups, which Noel felt was disrespectful to them.

Noel said, "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 yun sila tapos sinama kami sa kontra daya citing reasons napakababaw like my assosciation with the Petillas and I’m married to Cong. Josephine Lacson-Noel. I only passed 6 bills 6 laws co-authorship yung iba. Does that t make you a better party list than us?"

"Legitimacy dahil multimillionaire kami ni (An-Waray ) congressman (Neil) Montejo yung 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 theyre suffering now," Noel said.