Comelec probes 'sale' of party-list accreditations

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2012 08:29 PM | Updated as of Jun 07 2012 04:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said it will investigate allegations that some poll officials are asking for bribes in exchange for the accreditation of party-list groups.

"We’re going to investigate that. I will personally investigate that,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said.

He said groups found to be selling accreditations will not be accredited.

The Comelec chief said the poll body will finalize the list of accredited party-list groups for the 2013 elections by the end July. Some 172 groups are applying for accreditation.

He said Comelec is also screening party-list nominees.

On Tuesday, Bayan Muna Representatives Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares filed House Resolution No. 2472 calling for a congressional investigation on reports of Comelec officials asking for bribe money in exchange for accrediting party-list groups.

They also asked for the abolition of the P10,000 docket fee needed to file a disqualification case against fake party-list groups as it would only insulate fake party-list groups from public scrutiny and challenge.

Colmenares said reports of Comelec officials asking millions of pesos in bribes from party-list applicants “are making the rounds again” now that the Comelec is about to decide on applications for registration.

He said Comelec failed to stop the irregularities despite arrests made by the National Bureau of Investigation.

"The fact that a party-list group can afford millions for bribe money immediately shows that it does not belong to the poor and marginalized sectors. If we allow these fake party-list groups to buy their accreditation, then it is just a matter of time that the party-list system is completely ruled by the rich and the powerful who can afford to pay bribes and ease out genuine representatives of the people,” he said.

Bayan Muna also questioned the new Comelec rule requiring citizens who wish to expose a fake party-list group to pay P10,000.00 for filing a disqualification case.

It said the steep filing fee discourages people from questioning party-list groups created by political clans and multimillionaires.