Saturday, April 17, 2010

Watchdog body decries abuse of party-list system

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:33:00 04/17/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—What do scions of political clans, company executives, and top officials of the Arroyo administration have in common?

They all claim to be part of the marginalized sectors.

A perusal of the nominees of the 175 party-list groups running for seats in the House of Representatives in the May 10 elections shows that some of the nominees come from families with positions in the government, top organizations and companies.

In a study of the party-list nominees, election watchdog Kontra Daya said some of the nominees were clearly not members of the marginalized sector they claim to represent.

The group said the nominees were abusing the party-list system, which was created to give under-represented sectors a voice in the legislature.

“The party-list issue highlights the ineptitude and double standards of the Comelec. They disqualify deserving groups while allowing undeserving groups to abuse the system,” the group said.

“When Comelec chairman Jose Melo himself says he has difficulty in understanding the party-list law and system, what can we expect from the Comelec as a whole?” it added.

The names in the study were the latest in a string of “questionable” party-list nominees submitted to the poll body last month, Kontra Daya said.

Earlier, several groups urged the Comelec to disqualify Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, the President's eldest son, as nominee of the Ang Galing Pinoy party, an organization that claims to support security guards.

Some of the nominees violate Comelec rules, Kontra Daya said. Citing a Comelec resolution, the group said a party-list nominee is “one who belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent.”

Kontra Daya noted that the nominees of Alay Buhay Community Development Foundation, a group claiming to represent the poor, has the scion of the Gatchalian business family as its first nominee. It also has Miguel Varela, a former president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, as its third nominee.

“The first nominee is Weslie T. Gatchalian, president of Wellex Industries Inc. The third nominee is Miguel B. Varela, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former chairman and president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines,” Kontra Daya said.

Wellex Industries is a plastics manufacturing company. It is part of The Wellex Group, a company that owns several hotels and casinos and was founded by tycoon William Gatchalian. The Gatchalian's son, Sherwin, is the incumbent mayor of Valenzuela City.

Kontra Daya also deplored the inclusion of mining executive Joel Muyco, who was submitted as the fourth nominee of Ang Minero, an organization that seeks to push for miners' welfare.

According to Kontra Daya, Muyco is general manager and director of Vulcan Industrial Mining Corp.

“Muyco is also the vice president of Wellex Industries Inc., of which Weslie T. Gatchalian, Alay Buhay's first nominee, is president,” the report noted.

Kontra Daya, which has studied 50 of the 175 party lists, also noted that sons and daughters of politicians were nominated.

Ahon Pinoy, a group that protects the welfare of migrant Filipinos, has Manila Times editor Dante “Klink” Ang II as its first nominee. He is the son of publisher Dante Ang, who also heads the Presidential Commission on Overseas Filipinos.

The group's second and third nominees are Emerito Remulla, from the influential Remulla clan of Cavite, and Von Bryan Cuerpo, son of Mayor Pedro Cuerpo of Rodriguez, Rizal, the Kontra Daya study said.

The group Yes We Can's first nominee is Maynard Lapid, son of Sen. Lito Lapid, while the third nominee of Alliance for Community Transformation and Service is Ernesto M. Maceda, son of former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, Kontra Daya said.

Recognizing the need to be stricter in implementing the party-list rules, the Comelec recently issued guidelines mandating party-list nominees to prove that they have “active participation” in the advancement of their sector.

The nominees should present their “declarations, speeches, written articles” to show their active advocacy of their sector, the Comelec said.

Original Story:

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