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Mikey Arroyo's bid undermines party-list system, group says

February 19, 2010 11:27pm
A multisectoral election watchdog said Friday the prospect of Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey" Arroyo running as a party-list nominee undermines the essence of the system designed to give legislative representation to the country’s marginalized groups.

In a statement, Kontra Daya expressed alarm over the statements of Mikey, the eldest son of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and current representative of the second district of Pampanga, that some party-list groups are asking him to become their representative in the coming May polls.

Mikey is currently on his second term as the district’s representative, a position which the President is now seeking.

An ABS-CBN News report confirmed that Mikey may possibly run for Congress as a party-list nominee this year.

“If Mikey Arroyo becomes a party-list representative, that would be the lowest point in the history of the party-list system," said Fr. Joe Dizon, convenor of Kontra Daya. “He is an incumbent congressman and a son of the incumbent president. He is not from nor can he claim to represent the marginalized sectors for which the party-list law is intended."

There are three Arroyos currently in Congress: re-electionists Camarines Sur Second District Rep. Diosdado “Dato" Arroyo and Negros Occidental Fifth District Rep. Ignacio “Iggy" Arroyo, and Kasangga Party-list Rep. Maria Lourdes Tuason Arroyo-Lesaca.

The President and Mikey may possibly become the fourth and fifth Arroyos in the House.

“The idea is obviously to get as many seats in Congress to propel Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s bid for House Speakership and ultimately, secure charter change. If they can flood the Lower House with Arroyo allies, then Mrs. Arroyo has a good shot at keeping herself in power," Dizon said.


The group also scored what it called “pseudo-party-list groups" or groups which were alleged to have ties to the administration in the 2007 elections, and urged the Commission on Elections to disclose the names of all party-list nominees.

Under Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-list System Act, the party-list system was created to cater to marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

The Supreme Court has also issued two previous decisions that nominees must be Filipino citizens who belong to marginalized or underrepresented sectors.

Kontra Daya said the party-list groups accredited for the May elections include one that is identified with the Ampatuan clan, whose powerful members now stand accused of masterminding the grisly massacre in Maguindanao province on November 23 last year.

The first nominee of the group Adhikain ng mga Dakilang Anak ng Maharlika (“aspiration of the great children of the noble leaders") or ADAM is Energy Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, nephew of former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., who is also implicated in last year’s massacre which claimed the lives of 57 civilians and journalists.

Zamzamin denied in reports that his group is a front of the Ampatuan clan, saying he is the only Ampatuan in the group.

ADAM has no listed address or phone number, but its profile on the social networking site Facebook says its advocacy is “for the preservation and enrichment of indigenous knowledge, culture, practices and traditions."

Supported by Malacañang

Kontra Daya also noted that at least nine other accredited groups have been accused of getting support from or having links to the administration: Agbiag Timpuyo Ilokano (Agbiag), Ahon Pinoy (Ahon), Akbay Pinoy OFW-National (APOI), Aangat Ating Kabuhayan Pilipinas (Anak), Babae para sa Kaunlaran (Babae Ka), Bigkis Pinoy Movement (Bigkis), Byaheng Pinoy Labor Association (Byaheng Pinoy), Kalahi Sectoral Party (Kalahi) and League of Youth for Peace and Advancement (LYPAD).

According to Kontra Daya, four of these groups – Agbiag, Babae Ka, Kalahi, and LYPAD – were alleged to have received funding from Malacañang in the 2007 elections based on a document obtained from the Office of External Affairs.

The group also claimed two incumbent party-list groups that will be competing in the coming elections – Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) and Bantay – are supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Attempts to get in touch with these groups proved futile as their phone numbers, based on the Comelec’s 2007 listing, are either already deactivated or owned by a different individual who claimed no connection to the party-list group being questioned. - RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV
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