Palace washes hands off 'fake' party-list groups

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2010 03:14 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2010 11:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A Malacañang official on Monday dismissed as baseless speculation reports that the Arroyo administration is backing several party-list groups in the hopes of gaining more allies elected in the coming May 2010 polls.

In a press briefing, Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said President Arroyo will leave it to the Commission on Elections to determine the qualifications of the party-list groups and their nominees. "It is Comelec that lists and determines kung talagang dapat silang maging party-list. Meron ding process and mga nominees. Let's leave it to the Comelec," he said.

Calls for a revamp of the party-list system have grown amid reports that President Arroyo is using party-list groups to gain control of the legislature even after she steps down from the presidency.

Fueling the criticism is the nomination of President Arroyo's son, incumbent Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey Arroyo, as the nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP), which seeks to represent security guards and tricycle drivers in Congress.

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya earlier said the Comelec has the continuing obligation to screen party-list nominees of the 185 partylist groups that have submitted their list of nominees as of the March 26, 2010 deadline.

“The Comelec has the continuing power and the duty to defend the party list system at any time from the onslaught of those who seek to abuse it and violate the letter and intent of the constitution and the party list law to the prejudice of the marginalized and underrepresented,” the group said in a statement.
“It would not be just if the Comelec washes its hands off any responsibility to check the abuses of the partylist system by nominees who are disqualified by law, yet continue to take advantage of the system,” it added.

Kontra Daya said it has identified 30 partylist groups that have questionable nominees or nominees with links to the Arroyo government.

The group earlier lamented that the guidelines set by the Comelec on accepting petitions to disqualify partylist nominees poses stumbling blocks to citizens groups. The Comelec has given only five days to file petitions to disqualify nominees. It will be charging a fee of P5,000 for every nominee that is being sought for disqualification.
The watchdog group said that there are so many questionable nominees, the filing fee alone would discourage actual petitions. The group plans to file a separate petition for disqualification subject to the availability of funds.

Some of the groups with alleged links to the Arroyo administration are:

1.       Ang Galing Pinoy
2.       1-Utak
3.       Ang Kasangga
4.       Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA)
5.       KABAYAN
6.       PACYAW
7.       Association of Labor and Employees (ALE)
8.       Abot Tanaw
9.       APOI Partylist
10.   BANTAY True Marcos Loyalists
 11.   Aangat Tayo
12.   Abono Partylist
13.   Abante Tribung Makabansa (ATM)
14.   Alliance of People’s Organizations (APO)
15.   ANAD