Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perlas, Lim protest poll disqualification

December 17, 2009 02:21:00
Kristine L. Alave Allison Lopez
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—Independent presidential candidate Nicanor Perlas, who was disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from running in 2010, does not intend to go quietly.

Neither do retired Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and gay rights activist Danton Remoto, whose plans to run for the Senate were also thrown out by the Comelec.

Perlas, a civil society stalwart and an environmental activist, said the rejection of his candidacy was a blow to democracy and to those longing for alternative politics.

The decision of the Comelec showed that “only millionaires and billionaires can run” for elective office in the Philippines, Perlas said Wednesday at a press briefing in front of the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.

He said he would appeal the poll body’s decision because he still planned to run for president in next year’s elections.

Lim, a former chief of the elite Scout Rangers in detention on rebellion charges, said he would contest the Comelec decision that was depriving the electorate “a full range of choices.”

“I strongly protest the baseless and unconstitutional Comelec resolution that has questioned my capacity to wage a campaign and nullified my candidacy,” Lim said in a statement.

“As always, I will stand up against this kind of arbitrary and partisan behavior designed to remove the reform-minded and derail the country’s democratic project,” he said.

Remoto, a professor at Ateneo de Manila University, said the Comelec criteria for candidates were putting new and young politicians at a disadvantage against established names.

“The Comelec decision will prevent the development of young and independent-minded candidates. No new blood will flow in the veins of Philippine politics,” Remoto said.
He said he would appeal his disqualification if a major party would adopt him as a senatorial candidate.

Money for values

On Tuesday, the Comelec en banc said it had approved the certificates of candidacy (CoCs) of eight for the presidency, eight for the vice presidency, and 58 for the Senate.

Among those excluded from the list were Perlas, Lim and Remoto.

Comelec Chair Jose Melo said the CoCs of certain people were not approved because they did not appear to have the capability and resources to wage a national campaign.

Perlas said the Comelec had not questioned his credentials, and pointed out that his having been invited to a number of presidential debates proved that he was not a nuisance candidate.

Track record

“My feeling is that they are putting priority on money over values… They are ignoring citizens who would like to vote for something different,” he said.

He voiced disappointment that he was disqualified despite his track record in public service and international recognition for his work.

Perlas was a technical consultant of the United Nations’ Center for Transnational Corporations. He also served as consultant of the Presidential Committee on the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant and of the Philippine Council of Sustainable Development during the Aquino and Ramos administrations, respectively.

“This sends a message that democracy is for the elite and that ordinary Filipinos are not part of the process,” he said.

Perlas said that in the next few days, he would ask well-known personalities to endorse him in order to prove that he had supporters and the capability to seek the presidency.

‘Tainted opinion’

In his statement, the bemedalled Lim said the Comelec behaved in an arbitrary and partisan way when it dropped him from the senatorial list and chose “sympathetic candidates.”

“Despite the fact that I have been adopted by no less than three major parties, climbed up the survey ratings, received thousands of volunteers nationwide, received endorsements from various groups, it is [the Comelec’s] tainted opinion that I have not proven that I could campaign, much less win, in these elections, and … that I am no more than a nuisance candidate,” he said.

Lim had earlier said he was running as an independent but that he would be a “guest candidate” of the Liberal Party.

He also said the Pwersa ng Masa and Bangon Pilipinas parties as well as the Magdalo group were among the organizations backing his candidacy.

Lim is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

He was charged with rebellion for the November 2007 standoff between government forces and mutinous soldiers at the Manila Peninsula hotel, and is being tried by a military court in connection with a purported coup attempt in February 2006.

But while the Comelec threw out Lim’s CoC, it approved that of ex-Col. Ariel Querubin, another decorated officer similarly charged.

UNO backing

The United Opposition (UNO) led by its president, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay protested Lim’s “baseless” disqualification and said it would support his appeal of the Comelec decision.

Binay, the running mate of Pwersa ng Masa standard-bearer Joseph Estrada, argued that Lim could mount a nationwide campaign with the thousands of volunteers who had enlisted with him.

“We do not see any basis for the decision of the Comelec to disqualify General Lim. He meets all the qualifications set by law, but more importantly [he] has unquestionable integrity and the determination to serve the people,” Binay said.

The mayor also said the Comelec decision might send the wrong signal that Lim was being persecuted for his political views. With a report from Jocelyn R. Uy

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