OFW party-list group questions Comelec disqualification before SC

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2019 06:19 PM

MANILA - A party-list group of overseas Filipino workers has asked the Supreme Court to reverse the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling disqualifying it from the May midterm elections.

The Advocates & Keepers Organizations of OFW Inc (AKO OFW), represented by its chairman Celerino Umandap and its national president Marcia Vicenta Paz Sadicon filed a petition before the high court on Wednesday claiming the Comelec gravely abused its discretion when it disqualified the group on the basis of wrong choice of words in its petition for registration.

The group also asked for a temporary restraining order and mandatory injunction to compel the Comelec to reinstate its name in the ballot.

The group’s registration application had said “majority” of its members were aware and consented to the filing of the application.

But the Comelec said the rules require that “all of its officers and members are made aware of the petition and have given their consent thereto,” characterizing this requirement as “more than a matter of form or a simple omission of word.”

In its 18-page petition before the high court, the group said the Comelec should have looked at the attachments to its application, which includes a board resolution signed by all its officers.

The group also claimed its online membership application form requires OFWs to agree to the group’s participation in the 2019 midterm polls.

“The Honorable Commission En Banc committed grave abuse of discretion in making a hasty conclusion that only majority of petitioner’s members consented to the filing of the Petition and for participating in the 2019 Party-List Elections, especially since one cannot be a member of AKO OFW Inc unless one agrees to the conditions of membership, as indicated above,” it argued.

“Consent given by all members of the organization would have been easily verifiable thru its online registration in their website,” it added.

The group also cited the subsequent execution by its chapter officers and members of sworn affidavits to prove that they are aware of the organization's advocacies, plans, principles and platform of government.

AKO OFW Party-list’s petition is the latest plea filed before the high court questioning a party-list group’s disqualification from the midterm polls.

The Manggagawa Party-list group filed its own petition on January 18 calling shallow its disqualification on the basis of failure to state that it is “not a project or entity funded or assisted by the government.” 

Aksyon Health Workers’ Party-list also filed its petition last month insisting it genuinely represents the people belonging to the marginalized sector of health workers.