Multisectoral groups file disqualification petition vs Akbayan

MULTISECTORAL groups filed a formal petition for the disqualification of Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party from the party list elections on the basis that it is already a party in power, is no longer marginalized and is in fact overrepresented in government.

The petitioners include Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Kontra Daya’s Fr. Joe Dizon, Bayan’s secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr., Hacienda Luisita peasant leader Rodel Mesa, of the Ugnayan ng Manggawa sa Agrikultura, Peter Gonzalez of Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog, Santiago Dasmarinas Jr. of the Confederation For The Unity, Recognition and Advancement Of Government Employees, UP Student Regent Cleve Kevin Robert Arguelles, Isabelle Therese Baguisi of The National Union Of Students Of The Philippines, Henri Kahn, a concerned citizen and businessman, and Cristina Palabay of Karapatan.

“Akbayan is already a party in power. It has significant influence in government and has undue advantage over others, given the position of their high officials,” said Reyes.

Peasant, workers, urban poor and students trooped to the Comelec to support the filing of a complaint praying for the cancellation of Akbayan’s registration in the party list elections.

The complaint listed nine Akbayan personalities who are Malacanang appointees, including Presidential Political Affairs Adviser Ronald Llamas, Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, Joel Rocamora, chairperson of National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Akbayan argued that marginalized sectors cannot be overrepresented.

Reyes countered that “It should be made clear that what we seek to disqualify is Akbayan, a party already at the helm of power, and not the marginalized sectors it alleges or pretends to represent. There are many parties and groups, out of power, really marginalized and underrepresented that are qualified to represent these sectors.”

It is grossly unfair to parties and groups belonging to and representing marginalized sectors if we allow a party with Cabinet and high appointed government officials to join the party list system.

In fact, during Arroyo’s presidency, Akbayan protested the entry of party list groups formed or joined in by Cabinet and high ranking Malacañang officials and branded them as Malacañang or government supported party list groups which must be disqualified.

It is also alleged in the complaint that the nominees of Akbayan do not belong to the marginalized sectors.

A number of their nominees, as well as officials and founders are appointed officials of the Aquino government. Among them are 2nd nominee Ibarra Gutierrez III (Undersecretary for Political Affairs) and 3rd nominee Angelina Ludovice-Katoh (Commissioner under the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor).  They are appointed no less by the President. Katoh even wrote “Commissioner PCUP” as her occupation in her certificate of acceptance.

Akbayan purportedly represents the following sectors:  labor, peasant, women, youth, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT), fisherfolk,urban poor and overseas Filipinos. However, their nominees do not fall within any of these sectors.

The sector of overseas Filipinos, the sector that their first nominee Walden Bello supposedly belongs to and represents, is NOT a marginalized sector since an overseas Filipino refers to any Filipino working abroad, even the ambassadors.

Another ground for disqualification cited in the complaint is that Akbayan enjoys government support and funding which gives it undue advantage over other party-list groups.

“To believe that Akbayan officials are not using their posts to promote their party is the height of political naiveté,” said Reyes.

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