July 21, 2010
The anti-fraud and election monitoring group Kontra Daya today denounced the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc decision allowing Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to sit in Congress as representative of Ang Galing Pinoy Partylist (AGP).
Shortly before the elections, the party-list group Bayan Muna and then senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza of the Makabayan Coalition had filed disqualification cases against Arroyo, claiming he does not represent the security guards, tricycle drivers, and small businessmen AG claims to represent.
In a resolution dated May 7, however, the Comelec’s 2nd Division headed by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer dismissed the petitions, saying Arroyo “has actively supported and advanced the projects and programs of the party.”
“Evidently, therefore, the respondent had clearly immersed himself with the hopes and aspirations of the party and the sector it represents. He has as much right to be a nominee as any other member of the party,” the resolution read.
Yesterday, the Comelec en banc by a vote of 4-2-1 allowed Arroyo to sit as AG representative. Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, Armando Velasco, and Elias Yusoph voted in the affirmative. Commissioners Gregorio Larrazabal and Rene Sarmiento voted in the negative, while Chairman Jose Melo abstained.
“The majority who voted to let Mikey Arroyo sit in Congress obviously have no qualms about violating the Comelec’s own guidelines and the existing jurisprudence in favor of the rich, powerful and influential,” said Kontra Daya convener Fr. Joe Dizon.
The Comelec’s own Rules on Disqualification Cases Against Nominees of Party-List Groups/Organizations, promulgated on March 25, provide that a party-list nominee must not only be “a bona fide member of the party-list or organization which he seeks to represent for at least ninety days preceding election day,” but should also be “one who belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent.”
In its landmark decision on the 2001 case Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections, et al, the Supreme Court ruled that a party-list group or organization “must not be an adjunct of, or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by, the government. By the very nature of the party-list system, the party or organization must be a group of citizens, organized by citizens and operated by citizens. It must be independent of the government. The participation of the government or its officials in the affairs of a party-list candidate is not only illegal and unfair to other parties, but also deleterious to the objective of the law: to enable citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors and organizations to be elected to the House of Representatives.”
Based on these standards, Dizon said, the Comelec could not have run out of reasons for disqualifying Arroyo from taking a congressional seat.
“When Mikey joined Ang Galing Pinoy, he was the son of an incumbent president and was himself an incumbent district representative,” Dizon noted. “He is also one of the richest politicians in the Philippines, as attested by his having properties not only here but also in the United States. He is no security guard, tricycle driver, or small businessman – nor has he any track record of actively advocating for these sectors.”
“The weakest link appears to be Commissioner Armando Velasco who earlier voted to disqualify nominees of Ang Kasangga partylist because they did not belong to the marginalized sectors they claim to represent. Yet in the case of Mikey, he made a 180 degree turn and thinks Mikey belong to the sector of security guards and drivers,” Dizon added.
“The Comelec commissioners who voted to allow Mikey Arroyo to represent AGP in Congress have, by this singular act, contributed immensely to the further destruction of the Philippine party-list system,” Dizon said. ###