MANILA – Nurses are frustrated that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seems to be asking many requirements before their party-list group is allowed to run in the 2022 elections, a leader of their group said Thursday.
“That’s where the frustration of many of our members comes in. Because they have been witness to the previous decisions of Comelec commissioners that some partylists have been allowed without much restriction and you know, validation of who are the real members of these party-lists,” said Nurses United President Maristela Abenojar.
“While on our part, with the Nurses United Partylist, we have laid down our cards. We have provided all the necessary evidence that we are all indeed representing the marginalized sector.”
Abenojar noted that when they submitted their documents to the Comelec in March, they provided proof that their members are indeed nurses.
“When we submitted all our documents, last March 29, we have indicated the names and the workplaces of our members according to chapter. We even have an affidavit of evidence properly notarized so it will really prove that our nurses and our officers are legitimate registered nurses,” she said.
On October 4, they were officially informed that the First Division of the Comelec dismissed their application for accreditation.
“The Comelec resolution is dated October 1. And it says that the decision of the 1st Division of Comelec was that our partylist has been dismissed on the grounds that we fall short of representing the majority of our members, listed members and officers that will really prove that we are representing nurses as the basic sector we wanted to seek registration,” Abenojar said.
“Nurses United Party-list is a sectoral regional party-list. So they’re representing basically the National Capital Region, and there are 17 cities and municipalities - 16 cities, 1 municipality - in NCR. And our covered members represent 11 cities, meaning we are more than 50 percent of the requirement of the Comelec,” she stressed.
They have since filed an appeal, as they question the Comelec’s decision.
“In our motion for recognition, we mentioned that we beg to disagree on the decision of the First Division that our partylist has been dismissed. Because we have fully provided all the documents necessary to prove that we have actually represented majority of the nurses we wanted to represent,” Abenojar explained.
“And indeed we submitted [photocopies] of the (Professional Regulation Commission) licenses of 50 percent of our membership, so that they will be assured that all of our membership and leadership actually are registered nurses.”
Abenojar said she hopes the poll body will allow them to give their sector a voice in Congress.
“We are appealing to our commissioners, that they be true and faithful to their mandate of saying that there is a chance for the marginalized sector to be represented in our legislative process,” she said.
Abenojar noted that their group has been consistent in fighting for the rights of nurses even before the election period.
“Even in the previous years, we have been very vigilant and very consistent in our fight for the labor rights, for the improvement in the healthcare delivery system, and even in trying to help our government resolve some issues.”
“We participated in the previous public hearings in the lower house and the upper house. So we have proven ourselves that indeed we are sincere in our desire to help our country improve our current healthcare delivery system,” she said.
If elected, Abenojar said they will prioritize improving the salary and benefits of health workers, and ensuring quality medical care for the marginalized.
“If elected, our priority agenda in the legislative process would be improving the salaries and benefits of our health workers. And then, second is to file or enact a bill that will ensure or guarantee access of the ordinary people, marginalized sector to free, comprehensive, quality health services including free and quality safe medicines in the country,” she said.
“And third is to ensure that health is really a priority of the government in terms of budgeting, in terms of hiring personnel, without contractualizing or without applying the contractualization scheme among our vital and essential workforce.”
--ANC, 25 November 2021