“Voters should be wary of party-list groups of known political dynasties and big business interests claiming to represent the poor.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Election watchdog Kontra Daya called for voter vigilance as the rich and the powerful dominate the recent survey of Pulse Asia.
The group said the Pulse Asia survey results released last April 25 showed that at least 34 out of the 58 party-lists that probably would garner enough votes in the May 13 midterm elections to gain sests in Congress do not represent the marginalized and the underrepresented of society.
These 34 party-lists, according to Kontra Daya, have: 1) links to political dynasties or officials already elected in other positions; 2) represent special business interests; or 3) possess questionable advocacies and nominees.
Kontra Daya reminds voters, “The party-list system should serve the marginalized and underrepresented.”
“Voters should be wary of party-list groups of known political dynasties and big business interests claiming to represent the poor. They should avoid party-list groups that have become family enterprises where nominees are confined to members of the same family,” the group said in a statement.
Party-list groups who does not belong to the marginalized
Among the questionable party-lists listed in the 39-page voter’s guide on the party-list election released by Kontra Daya on April 24 are the following:
Ako Bicol Political Party which, according to the survey, will probably get more than 2 percent of votes assuring them of three seats in the House of Representatives (HOR). According to the research of Kontra Daya, Ako Bicol is allegedly backed by the family of Elizaldy Co, a rich and influential family in Albay. His businesses include construction, real estate, malls, resorts, energy, mining and aviation. He is also the chairman and chief executive officer of the Sunwest Group Holding Company Inc.
The second nominee, Justin Caesar Anthony D. Batocabe is the son of the late Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe. The third nominee, Ronald S. Ang formerly worked at the Sunwest Group Holding Co. Inc.
Advocacy for Teachers Empowerment through Action, Cooperation and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms or A Teachers also will probably get more than 2 percent of the votes giving them three seats in the HOR. Kontra Daya’s research showed that its first nominee Mariano U. Piamonte Jr. is associated with the private education sector.
He is a former head of the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP), a nationwide association of Catholic schools in the country. He is also a former board member of a private university in Malolos, Bulacan. He is also consistent in his stand against the tuition rollbacks in private universities and the Magna Carta of Students.
Another questionable party-list group is the Duterte Youth, a right-wing youth organization supporting the Duterte administration. Pulse Asia survey showed that Duterte Youth will probably get votes assuring them of at least one seat at the HOR.
Kontra Daya Research on Par… by on Scribd
The Duterte Youth is led by National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Ronald Cardema. He is the chairman of the Kabataan for Bongbong Movement, a youth organization supporting Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
In a forum with the University of the Philippines alumni on the party-list system last April 16, Kontra Daya convener and UP Professor Danilo Arao said Duterte Youth is the only party-list that uses the name of the president. The LPGMA or the LPG Marketers’ Association, he said is a different case since it is only an acronym of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Arao also said that the goal of the Duterte Youth is to counter progressive party-list groups particularly the Kabataan Party-list.
Duterte Youth is also a dynasty in the making, said Arao. The first nominee is Cardema’s wife, Ducielle Marie D. Suarez while the fifth nominee is his sister, Elizabeth Anne F. Cardema.
Arao also said that Cardema is the principal campaigner of the Duterte Youth using the NYC logo. The party-list also used the logo of the HOR in their tarpaulins. “This is the only party-list that we know of that uses the logo of the HOR in their campaigns. Technically, they’re not supposed to do that,” he said.
In the forum, Arao said, the rich and the powerful continue to rule the paryt-list system in the Philippines. It is being used by those who are in power to put forward their own interests.
But, he said, true power is still in the hands of the people.
He urged voters to be more critical in choosing the party-list that truly represents the marginalized and the underrepresented in the society.
Kontra Daya in statement also said,“The party-list system should aim to broaden representation, not make it narrower to the point of representing the interests of one family. Dynasties among party-list groups go against the intent of the party-list system as stated in the Constitution,” the group added.
(DISCLOSURE: Danilo A. Arao, a convenor of Kontra Daya, works as an associate editor of Bulatlat.)
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