Comelec bastardizes the party-list system

Three months before the national elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified three party-list groups belonging to the Makabayan coalition.

The Manggagawa Party-List’s appeal for accreditation as party-list organization was dismissed by Comelec. They represent the workers, migrant workers and their families, the public transport drivers and the urban poor. In its decision, Comelec said that Manggagawa failed to state that it does not receive funds from the government.

Aksyon Health Workers Party-List, meanwhile, was disqualified for failure to prove that they belong to the marginalized sector. Aksyon Health Workers represents health workers from the private and the public sectors. The Comelec also dismissed the petition for registration of the People’s Surge Party-List, which represents victims of disasters.

On the contrary, party-list groups with questionable credibility and advocacies were allowed by the Comelec to participate this coming elections. This includes Mocha Uson’s AA-Kasosyo Party and Duterte Youth led by Ronald Cardema, Duterte’s avid supporter and chairman of the Kabataan for Bongbong Movement, a youth organization supporting Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Partylist groups with rich nominees have been accredited, including One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals, also called as 1-Pacman. Its representative, Michael Romero, was named as the richest legislator in 2018 based on his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. His net worth in 2017 is P7.29 billion ($138 million). Romero was also reported to have participated in an auction with a bid of P50 million over an artwork in 2018.

Romero is the chief executive officer of the Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc., chairman of the 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Corporation and vice chairman of AirAsia Philippines.

Meanwhile, the second richest legislator in 2017 is also party-list representative. Diwa Party-List (Dignidad sa Bawat Manggagawa) Rep. Emmeline Aglipay Villar’s reported net worth is P1 billion ($19 million). She is the wife of Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar. She is now with the Department of Justice as undersecretary after President Duterte appointed her last year.

These billionaires whose party-list groups claimed to be for the marginalized never spoke against anti-poor policies.

By allowing these partylist groups to run, Comelec does not only bastardize the party-list system but also proves itself to be biased and partisan, anti-poor and pro-rich. ()

Erratum: Emmaline Aglipay Villar was appointed by President Duterte as Department of Justice undersecretary in July 2018. She is no longer the nominee of Diwa Partylist. The author mentioned that Villar is running as the nominee of the Diwa Partylist. We regret the mistake.

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