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Mikey back in House, now as party-list representative

(Updated 9:10 p.m.) Party-list nominee and former Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo will be returning to Congress after all.
Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, accompanied by his wife and daughter, shown here filing his papers as party-list nominee at the Comelec office in San Fernando City before the May 10 elections. GMANews.TV/File
This was after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday allowed the eldest son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be the nominee of the party-list group Ang Galing Pinoy in the House of Representatives, according to GMA News' Tina Panganiban-Perez. AGP claims to represent tricycle drivers and security guards. Four poll commissioners voted in favor of Mikey, two dissented, while one abstained, according to Perez. Those who voted in favor of Mikey were Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, Armando Velasco and Elias Yusoph. Those who dissented were Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Gregorio Larrazabal. Comelec chair Jose Melo abstained. "Chairman [Melo] only votes to break a tie. In this case, voting was at 4-2. [There was] no tie, so no need for Chairman to vote," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said. In its ruling, the Comelec said the disqualification case filed against Arroyo lacked merit because "he need not be, himself, marginalized. It's enough that he belongs to the party," Melo said in a report on GMA News' Saksi. But in their dissenting opinion, Sarmiento and Larrazabal insisted that a nominee should be someone who "belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent." "Not only the candidate party or organization must represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors; so must its nominees," the two commissioners added. Before the elections, progressive lawmakers and then senatorial bets Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo, and party-list group Bayan Muna filed two separate disqualification cases against the young Arroyo, arguing that Mikey could not possibly represent tricycle drivers and security guards, and that AGP is a "bogus" party-list. But in a resolution issued three days before the May 10 automated elections, the Comelec dismissed the petitions, saying Arroyo "has actively supported and advanced the projects and programs of the party." "Evidently, therefore, the respondent had clearly immersed himself with the hopes and aspirations of the party and the sector it represents. He has as much right to be a nominee as any other member of the party," the resolution read. Arroyo's group ended up winning 269,009 votes in the party-list race, which entitled it to one congressional seat. AGP, however, almost never got recognized as a winner in the last poll after the Comelec on May 31 recalled its proclamation due to Arroyo's pending disqualification — this time from another progressive group, Akbayan party-list. The Comelec ended up proceeding with the proclamation of AGP while excluding Arroyo, saying the disqualification case filed by Akbayan against him should first be resolved. Besides seeking Arroyo's disqualification, Akbayan likewise asked the poll body to immediately declare the disqualification of the nominees of AGP for failing to comply with a requirement mandated by the law. AGP's second and third nominees are Dennis G. Pineda, son of newly-elected Pampanga governor Lilia Pineda, a known Arroyo ally; and Bacolor Mayor Romeo "Buddy" Dungca. On the other hand, its fourth and fifth nominees are Jerold Dominick S. David and Ryan M. Caladiao, both of whom are from Pampanga, Arroyo's home province. With this development, Arroyo will now join his mother and brother Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo in the House of Representatives. Mrs. Arroyo has been elected representative of Pampanga's second district, while Dato Arroyo was re-elected representative of Camarines Sur's first district.
No evidence to disqualify Mikey Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, counsel for Mikey Arroyo, said the Comelec’s decision to allow the former representative to be an AGP nominee is only appropriate because the complainants never showed any evidence enough to disqualify his client. Macalintal said Bayan Muna, Maza and Ocampo “failed to introduce any evidence to assail the Comelec’s findings… (and) to prove their allegations against Arroyo’s qualifications." “All they did was shout to the high heavens that Arroyo was not a member of AGP," he said in a text message sent to media on Tuesday. Arroyo also “adheres to the advocacies of the AGP and actively participated in its undertakings," the lawyer said. The Comelec’s recent decision is proof that his client satisfied all the requirements for a party-list representative worthy of a seat in Congress, Macalintal said. Party-list system destruction Rep. Neri Colmenares, one of the petitioners, said Comelec's decision could spell the collapse of the party-list system, originally crafted through Republic Act No. 7941 to give a voice to marginalized sectors of society. "With the Comelec decision, the destruction of the party-list system is at hand... This will legalize the entry of multi-millionaires in the party-list system as no genuine [party-list] group can compete with these powerful groups in elections," he said. Colmenares wondered why Commissioner Velasco voted in favor of Arroyo this time, when he was among those who thumbed down two nominees of another party-list group, Ang Kasangga sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (Ang Kasangga). In a resolution last week, Velasco along with Sarmiento and Larrazabal disqualified Ang Kasangga nominees Teodorico Haresco and Eugenio Jose Lacson because "they do not belong to marginalized and underrepresented sector the group claims to represent." Bayan Muna said it would elevate the disqualification case to the Supreme Court. - Mark D. Merueñas/RJAB Jr./KBK/JV, GMANews.TV