MANILA -- An election reform group on Monday identified several party-list organizations running next year with “questionable” advocacies and links to well-entrenched political dynasties.
Other groups were also connected with “special business interests,” said Kontra Daya, which called on the Commission on Elections to “do all it can to ensure that whatever integrity is left in the party-list system will not be further eroded.”
Efforts to weed out these groups were further complicated by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that said the party-list system was not limited to those from the marginalized sectors.
Kontra Daya said the ruling should be reversed.
The court noted that the constitution allows "national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations" to participate in the party-list election.
But Kontra Daya said including these groups "made it harder for party-list groups genuinely representing marginalized sectors to gain seats in Congress."
"The party-list system has been bastardized and corrupted, becoming an extension of the political dynasties in many provinces and undermining its original goal of providing representation to marginalized sectors," the group said in a statement.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez acknowledged that the current partylist setup “may have strayed a little far from its original intent.”
“The whole idea is to expand political participation,” he told ABS-CBN News. “The problem is that it has become prone to abuse. If you’re going to fix it, then fix the predisposition to abuse, fix the vulnerability to abuse.”
Jimenez said the latest Supreme Court ruling would have to be reversed “before you can expect the Comelec to do anything other than what that particular case says we should do.”
“Unfortunately we cannot go beyond that, he said. “At best, the Comelec can guarantee that we will be faithful to the principles laid down in (the ruling).”
RICH AND POWERFUL
Kontra Daya cited the case of the party-list group, Probinsyano Ako, whose first nominee is the son of Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas. The second nominee is also related to the congressman.
The group also described 1PACMAN as “a glaring example of how the party-list system has been used by the rich and powerful.”
The party-list group’s first nominee Mikee Romero, it said, is the richest member of the House of Representatives with a declared net worth of at least P7 billion.
The top nominee of Tingog Sirangan is Leyte Rep. Yedda Romualdez, who belongs to the “Romualdez dynasty in Tacloban.”
The powerful clans of the Estrellas of Pangasinan and the Ortegas of La Union are also represented by nominees of Abono party-list, Kontra Daya said.
A nominee of Ang Mata’y Alagaan group, Tricia Nicole Velasco, belongs to the Velasco political family of Marinduque, it said.
Her father is retired Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco while her brother Lord Allan is the province’s incumbent congressman.
The group Serbisyo sa Bayan is identified with Quezon City Rep. Sonny Belmonte, Kontra Daya said, while PBA party-list involves a member of the Nograles clan of Davao.
The Garins and Birons of Iloilo are also represented in AAMBIS-OWA party-list, with its nominees Sharon Garin and former Iloilo Rep. Hernan Biron, Jr.
A daughter of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is a nominee of 1 Alliance Advocating Autonomy Party, according to Kontra Daya.
The wife of Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro is a nominee of Adhikain Tinaguyod ng Kooperatiba, it said.
“We call on the people to be extra-vigilant with groups claiming to represent the voiceless but in fact, are representing dynastic interests,” Kontra Daya said.