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Palace exec to party-list groups: Don't write to PNoy, go to SC


A Palace official is dissuading party-list organizations already disqualified or in danger of being barred from participating in next year's elections from writing to President Benigno Aquino III, stressing that the Executive cannot sway the poll body's decisions.   “The proper venue should be the Supreme Court. The party-list groups must remember that the Comelec is a constitutional commission, separate, and independent from the Executive branch,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a briefing Wednesday.
 
“We take no part in the determination by the Comelec in disqualifying a particular party-list. We have no say on that matter. That’s the call of the Comelec.They have their basis, they have their standards, they have their guidelines, they have their rules,” Lacierda added.
 
Lacierda noted that some disqualified groups, like Ako Bicol, have gone that route [going to the SC], but that for others merely in danger of disqualification, there is no legal recourse yet.
 
“I think the proper venue for them is to raise a petition before the Supreme Court if they have been disqualified. And, before that, there would be no justiciable controversy on specific party-list groups,” he said.
 
“That’s why it is proper for, for instance, Ako Bicol to raise their issue before the Supreme Court,” he added. Lacierda did not say, however, if any party-list organization has already written to the President on the matter. Disqualified
In the May 2010 polls, 187 organizations took part in the party-list system. Since then, 98 groups have been disqualified or de-listed from participating in next year's race, including Ang Galing Pinoy which is represented by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's eldest son, Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo in the House of Representatives.   
 
Including AGP, the Comelec had disqualified six party-list groups that have sitting representatives in the 15th Congress: Ako Bicol; APEC and 1-CARE, which claims to represent electricity consumers; Aangat Tayo, which represents urban poor, women, elderly and youth; and Kakusa (Kapatiran ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala), which is headed by convicted rapist and former lawmaker Romeo Jalosjos.
 
Also disqualified are registered party-list groups Bantay, AGRI, AKMA-PTM, AKO AGILA, AKO BAHAY, PACYAW, PM MASDA, COFA, ARARO, KATUTUBO and OPO. All took part in the 2010 elections.
 
The Comelec has also cancelled the accreditation of three new applicants — RAM GUARDIANS, Alyansa para sa Demokrasya, and Association of Airline and Airport Workers.
ALAM was the fourth new registrant axed from the elections.
 
Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. previously said they are cleansing the party-list system from those who abused the mechanism’s intent. “We’re applying the rules strictly as we want to interpret it strictly…  Na-abuso ito noong 2010. Gusto naming linisin ito in preparation for 2016,” he said.
No inhibition
 
At the same press briefing, Lacierda also dismissed the possibility of Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca inhibiting on decisions to disqualify party-list groups, saying it is her duty to participate in the hearings. Padaca had been been criticized for allegedly favoring groups perceived to be allies of the administration.
 
“I don’t see any reason why she should inhibit herself because primarily her role as a Comelec commissioner is to decide on election cases unless she is personally involved in any party of which she is not for the moment,” Lacierda said.
 
“She would be abandoning her duty without any rhyme or reason,” he added.
 
Lacierda also said there is no issue of the nature of Padaca’s appointment. “[Chairman Sixto] Brillantes is a PNoy appointee. I mean, every time there’s a vacancy in the Comelec, the President is mandated under the Constitution to appoint. So he appoints on the basis of independence, integrity,” Lacierda said. — Patricia Denise Chiu/RSJ, GMA News