MANILA – A party-list group allied with the Duterte administration is the runaway leader in the 2019 midterm elections party-list race, adding to the list of groups pushing for the administration’s legislative agenda in Congress.
ACT-CIS, or Anti-Crime and Terrorism Through Community Involvement and Support, amassed over 2 million votes or 9.45 percent of the total party-list votes.
The group got most of its votes from Metro Manila, Cavite, and Cebu, a study by ABS-CBN Data Analytics showed.
Since the group received 9.45 percent votes, they could have all its 3 nominees Eric Yap, Jocelyn Tulfo, and Rowena Niña Taduran in the House of Representatives, based on the mathematical formula being used by the Commission on Elections.
Jocelyn Tulfo is a sister-in-law of Duterte’s special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo.
ACT-CIS was endorsed by diehard Duterte supporter Erwin Tulfo who has a wide following on social media and on his hard-hitting radio program.
Erwin became embroiled in a controversy last year when his sister, former Tourism secretary Wanda Teo, was accused of paying P60 million to Kilos Pronto, a show which Erwin co-hosts with his brother, Ben Tulfo, who is also the producer.
The group vowed to help intensify Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs and criminality, with the push for the revival of the death penalty in the lower chamber.
Political analyst Ranjit Rye of the University of the Philippines said there is nothing new with the rise of an administration-backed party-list group.
"It’s not something to be surprised at. In the past administration, the party-list was also used by allies of the president as a backdoor to get into Congress,” he told ABS-CBN News.
Other party-list groups that got at least 2 percent of the total votes in the party-list race, and are therefore automatically entitled to at least 1 seat in the House, are Bayan Muna, Ako Bicol, Cibac, Ang Probinsyano, 1Pacman, Marino, and Probinsyano Ako.
Political newcomer Marino banked on the support of the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, to secure a win.
Marino’s first nominee is Carlo Lisandro Gonzalez, whose family owns contractor Ulticon Builders Inc.
Reports also said its second nominee, Jose Antonio Lopez, works for Udenna Corp., which is owned by Davao-based tycoon Dennis Uy who maintains close ties with the President.
Rye said it is also likely that other party-list groups will join an alliance with the administration "because, in the end, they also need resources given the ‘pork barrel politics’ we have in the House."
In “pork barrel politics,” Rye explained that those in the opposition often get the least budget allocation.
“In the party-list, you have one shot, one term to initiate your programs so you’re very much dependent with your alliance with the administration. So, it’s not just the idea that they believe in the president, it’s also nature of the system,” he said. “So, you have an institutional angle, and you also have an issue of ideology of political alliance.
Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao said the Duterte administration "needs as much numbers as possible [in the House] to push for certain controversial measures" including the shift to a federal system of government and expansion of the tax reform law.
"With regard to the party-list race, it’s really important that the marginalized and underrepresented should really have a voice, but these are being compromised right now,” said Arao, who is also an associate professor at the University of the Philippines.