Kontra Daya says Comelec should not be sidetracked from going after sham party-list groups

Press release
October 12, 2012
Poll watchdog Kontra Daya today reiterated that the ongoing cleansing of the party-list system should weed out only those that do not represent the marginalized and under-represented sectors as intended in the 1987 Constitution and Republic Act (RA) 7941 or the Party-List System Act, and further clarified in previous rulings by the Supreme Court (SC) as well as by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The group issued the statement even as it welcomed the decision of the Comelec to disqualify 13 party-list groups, including Ako Bicol, from participating in the 2013 polls. Ako Bicol was among the party-list groups that Kontra Daya questioned before the Comelec in a complaint it filed last month.
Kontra Daya convenor and spokesperson Fr. Joe Dizon said that the Comelec led by Chairman Sixto Brillantes started on the right track in recognizing the merits of the complaint against Ako Bicol and other questionable party-list groups. But Dizon expressed concern that recent statements attributed to the Comelec chief could sidetrack the poll body from going after groups that are not marginalized and under-represented, which is the crux of the controversy in the party-list system. On Tuesday, Brillantes was quoted in the media as saying that they are also axing party-list groups which represent several sectors instead of just one.
“We are with Chairman Brillantes in his campaign to get rid of bogus party-list groups. However, we believe that focusing on the multisectoral or sectoral character of a party-list group, instead of just simply determining whether or not such party truly represents the marginalized and under-represented, will have the effect of further limiting the space for those without power or money to engage in governance. Thus, the exercise of cleansing the party-list system becomes pointless and useless since it will also deprive the marginalized and under-represented sectors that are grouped under one party-list organization from participating,” argued Dizon.
Dizon said that basic common sense should guide the Comelec in its campaign to clean the party-list system of opportunistic interests. “We all know that the intention of the party-list system is to provide the biggest possible space to those without wealth and influence to directly participate in crafting legislation that will benefit them. So simple logic and an uncomplicated sense of right and wrong tell me that it is absurd that when the poor and weak from different sectors decide to run under one party-list group, bound by the common interest of advancing their welfare, the Comelec will disallow them,” the Catholic priest pointed out.
Kontra Daya reaffirmed its strong commitment to help establish a genuine party-list system that is free from the devious schemes of traditional politicians and elite interests. “The truth is the party-list system provides a still limited space for the poor. And still they are being crowded out by bogus parties. If the Comelec will insist on disqualifying groups on a basis other than they’re not marginalized and under-represented, it will unwittingly help perpetuate this injustice, the mockery of the party-list system and the marginalization of the poor and weak,” said Dizon. (End)
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