Probe bribery in party-list accreditation process – solon

A LAWMAKER today called for a congressional inquiry into reports that party list accreditation is being sold for a huge amount of money by some alleged “fixers” at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares (Party-list, Bayan Muna), author of House Resolution 2460, recalled the revelation of Danton Remoto of the Party-list Ladlad, who said that party-list group accreditation was being sold for a price amounting to millions of pesos by “fixers” and alleged lawyers identified with the Comelec. The Ladlad party wasdisqualified by the 2nd Division of the Comelec.

Colmenares also noted the case of a certain Joel Mendez was allegedly offered to become a nominee of any two party-list group already accredited by the Comelec if he will pay an amount of  P5 million for a 2nd nominee slot and P2 million for 3rd nominee slot.

Colmenares also cited a May 2010 report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested suspected members of a syndicate in the Comelec allegedly selling party-list accreditation and seats for P10 to P15 million.

“This issue of bribery must not be left in limbo. The integrity of our party-list system must be protected,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares said in the absence of a full investigation on the alleged cases of bribery, doubts are inevitably cast on the integrity of Comelec in upholding the intent of the party-list system to ensure that only qualified party-lists are allowed to join the elections.

Citing a study of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, Colmenares said of the 57 nominees from 43 party-lists in the 15th Congress, 12 are members of political clans, while 9 are affiliated with or are openly endorsed by religious groups.

Colmenares said 79% of the party-list groups were classified as “traditional” or those having links with traditional political forces, administration, political clans, big business and emerging religious dynasties.

Citing a 2001 decision in Bayan Muna versus the Comelec (G.R. No. 147613), Colmenares noted that the Supreme Court stated that a party-list group “must not be an adjunct of or an entity funded or assisted by the government.”

Colmenares said the high tribunal also stated that not only the candidate party or organization must represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors, so also must its nominees who should themselves also belong to marginalized sector of society.

“Since 1998 there have been lots of attempts to corrupt the system by so-called bogus or pseudo party-lists which were able to worm their way through the screening process of the Comelec and some have even been victorious in acquiring congressional seats,” Colmenares said

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