‘Left’ contest disqualification rap

PHILIPPINES NEWS SERVICE — THREE leftist party-list organizations yesterday asked the Commission on Elections to dismiss the disqualification suit filed against them and threatened to file civil and criminal cases against the complainants.

The leftist parties, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and Anakpawis, also accused National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and other security officials of being behind the move to discredit them.

“The complaint is obviously part of the vicious but futile attempts of Malacañang, military and police officials, using alleged Akbayan members to discredit and demolish Bayan Muna,” Bayan Muna secretary-general Nathaniel Santiago said in a letter to Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos.

In separate complaints filed before the Comelec last Feb. 16, Isabelita Bayudang and Medelyn Felipe—both claiming to be widows of rebel-returnees killed by the communist New People’s Army—sought the disqualification of the three party-list groups.

The complainants alleged that the three parties are front organizations of the NPA-Communist Party of the Philippines- National Democratic Front. Likewise, they alleged that NPA killed their husbands who were active in the rival party-list group Akbayan.

But Santiago said the complaint has no legal leg to stand on and was based on perjured statements that the nominees of the three party-list groups, namely Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño, Liza Maza and Rafael Mariano ordered the killing of three Akbayan members in 2001 and 2004.

“We intend to file perjury cases and other appropriate criminal and civil cases against witnesses who committed perjury in falsely testifying against us, including prosecutors who allowed themselves to be used in these harassment suits,” Santiago said.

“We will be filing electioneering and other criminal and civil charges against Secretary Gonzales and military and police officials for violating laws, including elections rules and regulations,” he added.

In a separate letter to Abalos, Gabriela representative Cristina Pabalay said the petitions filed before the Comelec is part of the “black propaganda” against their party. “It is an illegal election propaganda, which this early erodes our collective hope of a fair, clean and honest party-list elections,” she said.

Santiago said the charge that the leaders of the three party-list groups ordered the killing of rival group Akbayan is incredible. “Why would we need that when we are leading in the ratings?” he said, referring to a recent survey showing Bayan Muna on top with a rating of 16.4 percent. Akbayan is second with a rating of 9.1 percent while Gabriela is a close third with a rating of 8.8 percent.

In their disqualification complaint, the complainants named as respondents the parties’ nominees, namely Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño (Bayan Muna), Lisa Maza (Gabriela), Crispin Beltran and Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis).

In an interview, Bayudang and Felipe said they are filing the complaint as part of their quest to seek justice for the killing of their husbands. Both complainants tagged the NPA as the culprit in the killing of their respective husbands, namely rebel-returnees Carlito and Danilo.

“They are in cahoots with each other and behind them is the CPP-NPA-NDF. Unless these party-list groups are disqualified, many more will die. They have already killed many rebel-returnees,” Felipe said.