Original Story: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100325hed1.html
Commission on Elections Chairman Jose Melo yesterday came to the defense of presidential son Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo’s entry into the next Congress through the party-list system, along with other known Arroyo allies running as party-list nominees, saying the decision is best left to the Filipino electorate, rather than the Comelec.
“Let the people decide. Filipinos are smart. Let the people be the judge. They cannot go wrong when the people are the ones who judge (the party-list candidates).”
Melo issued this statement after several camps questioned the nomination of Mikey Arroyo in the party list group Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP), along with other personalities running under the party list system, which is generally known as getting a congressional seat through the back door.
Melo stressed that even if the nominee is qualified by the Comelec, it is not a guarantee that he will gain a seat in Congress because the party lister would have to be elected and secure the required two percent of the total votes cast.
‘We can say that the person is entering theough backdoor channels as a partylist nominee just because we don’t like the person and not because the person is not qualified,” he said.
But Melo said the critics can still challenge the nomination of certain personalities from partylist groups after the March 26 deadline of filing for the partylist nomination.
Melo added that he will get comments from different groups or call for a public hearing to know the people’s sentiments.
“Probably after we have come out with this draft, we will call for a public hearing and find out how the people feel,” said Melo, adding that the commission will also release the resolution stipulating the guidelines on partylist groups and nominees by next week.
But even as Melo talks about coming up with guidelines, he admitted, at the same time, that the Comelec is having a difficult time crafting the guidelines on how to screen the nominees of organizations running in the party-list elections in May.
“It’s hard to formulate the guidelines... Formulation of rules is always very hard,” the poll chairman claimed.
More than 180 party-list organizations representing the marginalized sectors will try to win at least one seat (to a maximum of three seats) in the House of Representative in the coming polls.
The Comelec head noted that there are no specific rules on how to identify and certify a party-list, which is also one of the reasons the poll body cannot pinpoint who will represent the organization.
Melo cited as an example a group of tricycle drivers, saying: “If their party has been certified, must their nominee be a tricyle driver? It is possible that the driver has not finished his schooling, so how can he represent the interest of tricyle drivers? They should have somebody who is educated and speak for the tricycle drivers,” Melo said.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has asked the Comelec to disqualify Mikey Arroyo from the party-list race, saying his nomination “marks a new low” in the party list system.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. noted that if Comelec accepts Arroyo’s nomination, it “will be a serious test to the credibility of the poll body.”
“The inclusion of Mikey Arroyo as the first nominee of partylist group Ang Galing Pinoy marks a new low for the partylist system. We maintain that Mikey Arroyo is not eligible to become a partylist nominee,” he added.
Moreover, Reyes asserted that Arroyo does not come from the ranks of the marginalized, thus, violating the party-list system.
“He is the incumbent congressman of his district, a member of the dominant political party Lakas-Kampi, and the son of the incumbent president. By no stretch of the imagination can he be considered marginalized or fit to represent the marginalized for which the partylist system was meant to serve,”he said.
“The Comelec cannot plead ignorance when it comes to Mikey. They know very well who he is. They have no other legal and logical recourse but to motu propio disqualify Mikey,” Reyes added.
Aside from Arroyo, the group is also questioning the nomination of former Ilocos Sur congressman Salacnib Baterina, who is the nominee of party-list group Alliance of People’s Organization,
“The Palace game plan is to pack the House of Representatives with as many Arroyo allies as possible using the partylist system. This ploy is in aid of keeping Mrs. Arroyo in power,” he maintained.
But Malacanang took another tack, saying: Why single out only the Arroyos?
Presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo pointed out that the Constitution carries no provision directly inhibiting one particular family from seeking political positions.
“As far as we know, this is allowed under the Constitution so I suppose we are complying with the Constitution by letting people who want to run, run. I mean, that’s the story here. Secondly, the Arroyo family, as far as we know, is not the only family that has multiple people in the legislature. If we are going to go into this, let’s just not focus on one family, let us look at all of them and ask each of them what message they are sending,” Saludo said.
Should things go the Arroyos’ way, come Election Day, the President will have the rare opportunity of working with her two sons, the other being Dato Arroyo, representing Camarines Sur, her brother-in-law, Iggy Arroyo, representing Negros Occidental, and her sister-in-law, Maria Lourdes Arroyo of Ang Kasangga party-list.
Press Secretary Jun Icban, for his part, said the growing observations that the Arroyo clan is trying to build an empire in Congress is just natural, implying that nobody can really stop so-called “exceptional individuals” who belong to a politically-inclined family to continuously remain in public office.
“There are individuals in that family who are interested (in a congressional position). It’s not so different about other families who have also done the same thing in the past. It’s a natural thing for a family with exceptional individuals to try to be in office through elections. The people ultimately will decide because it’s an election,” Icban said.
Saludo also mentioned that Malacañang is not keen on supporting measures that would ban the longstanding existence of political dynasties in the country.
Saludo also hit out at Makati Mayor and Pwersa ng Masa vice presidential candidate Jejomar Binay that Arroyo along with her allies, is setting up the groundwork for another siege to the presidency.
“We congratulate Mayor Binay for getting into the news -- maybe he should ask Sen. (Rodolfo) Biazon on his citation of the possible election of a new Senate President,” was Saludo’s sarcastic reply to Binay’s statement.
In Puerto Princesa, PMP standard bearer former President Joseph Estrada yesterday scored the Arroyo administration for allegedly using the party-list system to advance Arroyo’s sinister plan to perpetuate herself in power.
Estrada said that the abuse of the party-list system is part of a grand plan that would extend the term of President Arroyo. “I believe so,” he said of the alleged plan.
He added that the partylist system is supposed to be for the marginalized representatives even as he said that the next Congress should review the partylist system.
Estrada, Binay, PMP senatorial bets, reelectionists Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, former Sen. Francisco “Kit” Tatad, and former Negros Occidental Rep. Apoloinario Lozada, arrived here to a warm welcome led by Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn.
“ How did Palparan represent the marginalized people? That is a glaring example of the abuse of the partylist system,” Estrada pointed out.
He also underscored the plan of Mikey Arroyo to represent a sector in the House of Representative, saying that the party-list is supposed to be for the marginalized sector,” adding that many of those representing a supposedly marginalized sector are not from the sector they are representing.
“It’s the wealthy and the elite who use the party list system to dominate Congress,” Estrada stressed.
Tatad, also shared Estrada’s idea to review the partylist system. “There has been a marked proliferation of supposedly marginalized sectors which on objective analysis may not really qualify as sectors,” Tatad said.
Tatad explained that the fundamental problem lies in the Constitution, “because the Constitution has failed to spell out the sectors. In fact the provision on partylist does not define the system at all. It just mentions the party-list system,” Tatad said.
He said that the constitutional provision on the partylist system should be amended to spell out what are the sectors that are really marginalized and should be represented by partylist members. With Marie A. Surbano, Aycth S. dela Cruz and Gerry Baldo
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