April 13, 2015
The partylist system is no longer for the marginalized and underrepresented. Over the years, it has been dominated by the rich and powerful. With a recent Supreme Court ruling allowing nominees to run even if they do not belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector that they claim to represent, it was only a matter of time for the partylist system to be overrun by the same political dynasties common in local politics.
Several partylist groups running for seats in congress are tied with powerful local and national politicians. There is also the trend of having nominees among the members of one
The Serbisyo sa Bayan Partylist (SBP) is associated with Quezon City 4th District representative and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. Its first nominee is Belmonte’s nephew Ricardo Belmonte, Jr. He is also cousin to QC vice mayor Joy Belmonte. Another Belmonte relative, Jose Christopher, is congressman of the 6th district of Quezon City. Should Ricardo win, there may be three Belmonte’s holding seats in Congress, all coming from Quezon City. It’s also no coincidence that the name of the party is SBP, similar to initials “SB” of the House Speaker.
The Association for the Development Dedicated to Agriculture and Fisheries Inc. or ADDA has as its first nominee Grace Kristine Singson Meehan is the treasurer of the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. and daughter of Rep. Eric Singson and from the Singson political clan of Ilocos Sur.
Partylist AAMBIS-OWA has as its first nominee Sharon Garin who belongs to the Garin political clan of Iloilo. She had a net worth of P27 million in 2014. She is also the sister of current DOH secretary and former Iloilo representative Janette Garin. Second nominee Apolinario P. Arnaiz, Jr. meanwhile is a former Vice-Governor of Negros Oriental.
He is the brother of Negros Oriental 2nd District incumbent representative George Arnaiz who’s running now for governor of the province and also brother to Pamplona, Negros Oriental mayor Apollo Arnaiz.
The ABONO partylist, one of the earliest participants in the partylsit system, has long been associated with the powerful Estrella and Ortega clans from Pangasinan and La Union respectively. First nominee is Conrado Estrella III, with a net worth of P28.44 million as of 2014. The second nominee, Vini Nola A. Ortega, is the wife of Wife of three-term Abono Partylist Representative Francisco Ortega, III.
Ang Kasangga partylist has as its first nominee Gabriella Calizzo-Quimpo, a three-term Vice-Governor of Aklan province. Her husband is set to run for Vice-Governor in her place. Its second nominee meanwhile is former DOTC undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla who served under DOTC Secretary and Liberal Party head Joseph Emilio Abaya. Its fifth nominee is Jose Ciceron Lorenzo A. Haresco is the son of former Kasangga representative and now Aklan congressman Teodorico Haresco.
Parytlist MATA or Ang Mata’y Alagaan is associated with the Velasco’s of Mariduque. Its first nominee is Tricia Nicole Q. Velasco-Catera, daughter of its current representative Lorna Q. Velasco. Tricia’s father is sitting SC justice Presbiterio Velasco. Tricia’s brother is Marinduque representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco. It appears that the nomination in this particular partylist is inherited.
ABAMIN’s nominee Jocelyn Rodriguez is sister to outgoing ABAMIN representative Maximo Rodriguez and Cagayan de Oro representative Rufus Rodriguez.
Agbiag’s first nominee Michaelina Antonio is the wife of outgoing Agbiag representative Patricio Antonio.
AGAP Partylist’s second nominee Kathleen Briones is the daughter of outgoing AGAP representative Nicanor Briones who is now running for the position of Batangas Governor. Katheleen is an incumbent Batangas councilor.
More and more we see partylist nominations being passed on to or inherited by a member of the same family, no different from the practice of dynasties in other elective positions. This again goes against the spirit of the partylist system which is supposed to be for the representation of marginalized and underrepresented sectors, and not representation of the interests of one family or clan.
There are no clear Comelec guidelines on the selection of nominees which could prevent the proliferation of political dynasties. There is no explicit prohibition as far as we know on the passing on of nominations from one family member to another. The Comelec does not even require partylist groups to provide proof of a democratic selection process of the nominees, where members of the partylist actually get to choose their nominees. A genuine partylist group who has members from marginalized sectors surely must have capable leaders outside of the same family. What is happening is a perversion of the intent of the Constitution to have a partylist system of representation for the marginalized and underrepresented.
The Supreme Court decision on the qualification of partylist nominees along with very lax Comelec guidelines, in the context of a political system already dominated by the rich and powerful, are to blame for rise of political dynasties in the partylist system. This development also makes it even harder for grassroots based partylist groups to gain entry into Congress as they face further marginalization from the rich and powerful dynasties. ###
*Photo credits to NAMFREL