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Bastardizing the party list

Bastardizing the party list
Ellen Tordesillas
3 March 2010

PARAÑAQUE Rep. Roilo Golez sees a conflict of interest in the Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes membership in 1-Utak (United Transport Koalisyun), a partylist group.

Golez said in the hearing of the House Energy Committee last Monday, Reyes admitted that he was offered a slot in the 1-Utak party list and in a TV interview, he said he is considering it.

His nomination indicates that he has been an I-Utak member for at least the past three months because the law states that a nominee should be "A bonafide member of the party he seeks to represent for at least ninety (90) days preceding election day."

There are calls for Reyes to resign because, as Golez said, "his membership in 1-Utak, a player in oil products price and supply issues, which are within the jurisdiction of the energy secretary poses a clear conflict of interest."

Concerns have also been raised about Mikey Arroyo, son of Gloria Arroyo who has opted not to run re-election as representative of 2nd district of Pampanga to allow his mother to make a bid to return to power via the House of Representatives?

Mikey Arroyo is the first nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, allegedly representing tricycle drivers and security guards. How in heaven’s name can Mikey Arroyo be a member of association of tricycle drivers and security guards? The same question was asked when his aunt, Marilou, got to the House of Representatives representing balut vendors.

Ang Galing Pinoy and 1-Utak are two of the 187 partylist groups that are included in the ballot (that helps explain the two-foot long ballot) . The Comelec admits many of those 187 are questionable but they decided not to question them because that would have delayed the printing of the ballots. They say that they could still disqualify some of those before Election Day.

Former Akbayan Rep. Etta Rosales laments the bastardization of the party list system which was introduced in the 1987 Constitution with the noble purpose of giving the marginalized groups a voice in Congress. It was giving substance to the philosophy articulated by the late President Ramon Magsaysay that "those who have less in life should have more in law."

Etta said that in 2007, Akbayan exposed 11 dubious party list groups including Biyaheng Pinoy, a tricycle party list group founded in Mandaluyong but whose bulk of votes came from Mindanao. It was headed by the brother of the disgraced Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos.

Etta said there is no serious effort by Comelec to investigate the integrity of all the groups it has accredited, both past and present.

She said, "Some curious names in the 187 list include Agbiag, No. 34 and Ang Galing Pinoy, No. 89. In 2007 this was one and the same suspected government front called ‘Ang Galing Pinoy, Agbiag! Timpuyog Ilocano, Inc.’ (Agbiag) for short. Now they have split like an amoeba with Ang Galing Pinoy ‘aching’ to have Mikey Arroyo its first nominee in the party list."

Etta asks the Comelec: "What does ‘1-Ako ang Babaeng Astig Aasenso’ stands for and what under-represented sections of the population does it represent?"

She further said, "1-UTAK is among seven accredited party list groups that command the first row because they all start with "1"! Obviously this is intended to have these seven groups listed ahead of some 102 party list groups starting with the letter "A". While these PL titles in competition of billing are a comedy by themselves, what is more bothersome is the fact that the transport group 1-UTAK should offer its first slot to a GMA cabinet member, Angelo Reyes, whose loyalty to the President today is measured by the years of service he has given to her in the various cabinet posts he has held regardless of experience these past nine years."

Etta said elections is being held under "a regime in a desperate drive to hold on to power in a period of rapid decline."

Etta is not alone in thinking that "this kilometer-long list of 187 party list groups may hold the key to her last remaining options – a private army of party list loyalists to support her speakership where district solons are fast jumping ship in search of new perks."

She is calling for the reactivation of Party List Caucus. She said, "the Comelec must be called to task and the Supreme Court must respond decisively before the dream of EDSA for a democratic Congress ends in a gruesome nightmare. A democratic Congress can still be a reality, but only with the concerted action of an informed public. "



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