Comelec’s confusing rulings

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THIS IS in connection with the reports on the cleansing of the party-list system by the Commission on Elections, particularly on its recent decision to accredit Akbayan and Bayan Muna.

It is unfortunate that this noble undertaking has come under a cloud because of the lack of credible, consistent and uniform guidelines.

According to the Comelec, while Ako Bicol, Akbayan and Bayan Muna are multisectoral political parties, they differ when it comes to their track records—Ako Bicol has none to speak of. Has the Comelec redefined the meaning of “track record”? Doesn’t the “track record” the Comelec refers to refer to the legislative performance and constituency work geared towards uplifting the lives of underrepresented and marginalized sectors? The legislative performance of Ako Bicol can be easily verified in the website of the House of Representatives, which states that this party-list group has countless bills and advocacies to speak of. Likewise, the website of Ako Bicol and other publicly accessible sources show that the same party list has numerous programs and projects for marginalized and underrepresented sectors. As it is, the bases of the Comelec for disqualifying party lists are now very confusing. Hence, it bears watching how the Comelec will decide on the other party lists.

For example, the Comelec disqualified Ako Bicol for being a geographically based party list which allegedly duplicates the functions of district congressmen. How will the Comelec treat similar groups like An Waray, Abante Mindanao, Agbiag Timpuyog Ilocano, Anak Mindanao, Abyan Ilongo or Ako Bisaya? Or if the Comelec disqualified party lists like APEC and 1Care which represent electric cooperatives, how will it decide on party lists representing multimillion-peso cooperatives like Coop-Natco, Ating Koop or Butil? Or how will it justify the accreditation of Piston while disqualifying other known transport groups like Pasang Masda and Acto?

It also bears watching how the Comelec will treat party lists like Abono whose nominees belong to well-known, entrenched political dynasties (e.g., the Ortega and Estrella clans), or party lists like BH and ALIF that look like a “family affair,” their nominees being all related to each other or to their politician-founder?

Or will the Comelec have the political will to disqualify party lists that are publicly known as adjuncts of sectarian groups like Buhay, whose first nominee is the son of Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai; or Cibac whose first nominee is Rep. Sherwin Tugna, the son-in-law of Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Jesus is Lord Movement?

The Comelec should be able to back its decisions on accrediting or not accrediting party-list groups with consistent, credible and legally tenable justifications.

As it appears now, instead of cleansing the party-list system, the Comelec is creating a bigger mess out of it. Or is the exercise all for show—for reasons only the Comelec knows?

—JAYSON TUBALINAL CARULLA, jay_carulla@yahoo.com.ph

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