Group slams Comelec’s ‘double standard’ decision on Akbayan disqualification

CALLING it a ‘gross ignorance of the law’ and a ‘blatant double-standard’, the youth group Anakbayan slammed Comelec commissioner Sixto Brillantes’ statement today regarding the petitions for disqualification of pro-Aquino partylist group Akbayan.

Last Tuesday, youth groups Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, National Union of Students in the Philippines, Student Christian Movement in the Philippines, and Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan, along with labor center KMU, filed a letter to the Comelec seeking the disqualification of Akbayan on the grounds that the party and its nominees are ‘adjuncts of the government’.

Today however, Brillantes claimed that there was nothing wrong with ‘government officials participating in the partylist race’.

“Commissioner Brillantes should brush up on his law. The rules on the partylist system have been clarified by the 2001 Supreme Court decision of Ang Bagong Bayani. Not only does it reiterate the need for partylist representatives to belong to ‘margnalized’ sectors, it also explicitly forbids the likes of Akbayan from participating” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.

In the said decision, the Supreme Court laid out an ‘eight-point guideline’ on the qualifications for those parties and candidates participating in the partylist race, including:

– Partylist nominees must belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors
– Partylist groups must not be “an adjunct of, or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by, the government”

“We repeat: how can high officials of the Aquino government be ‘marginalized’ or ‘underrepresented’? More importantly, even if we grant for the sake of argument that they are, the Supreme Court ruling still forbids them from participating as ‘adjuncts’ of the government” said Crisostomo.

Akbayan’s 2nd nominee, Ibarra Gutierrez II, is a presidential undersecretary for political affairs. Their 3rd nominee, Angelina Ludovice-Katoh, is a commissioner of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.

Other Akbayan national officials and former reps also occupy high posts in the Aquino administration:

– Ronald Llamas, former president, is now presidential advisor for political affairs
– Joel Rocamora, former president, is now head of the National Anti Poverty Commission
– Etta Rosales, former president and representative, is now head of the Commission on Human Rights
– Percival Cendena, former chairperson, is now a commissioner of the National Youth Commission

The youth leader meanwhile decried the statement as indicative of ‘a double standard’ in the light of the Comelec’s refusal to recognize a partylist group of rank-and-file government employees.

Previously, the Courage GE Partylist was denied recognition on the grounds that government employees were ‘already over-represented’.

“What is bizarre in the Comelec’s reasoning is that they define government officials, with high salaries and in a position of power, as ‘under-represented’ and ‘marginalized’, yet they do not think that regular government employees belong in the same category” said Crisostomo.

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