By Christine F. Herrera
MANILA – More than 20 rich politicians and scions of powerful clans will try to cling to power by forming their own party-list groups after losing in the last elections or after their terms end, the anti-fraud group Kontra Daya said Friday.
Among the political clans that would try to do that were the Bagatsings, Singsons, Ecleos, Ibunas, Espinas, Velascos and Ramiros, said group convenor Joe Dizon.
Some were members of the Liberal Party and all were allies of President Benigno Aquino III in Congress and in local politics and should be disqualified, Dizon said.
“To allow a politician to create his own party-list group and ‘represent’ the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, when he himself has failed to fully represent these, is a circumvention of the law and the orders of the Supreme Court,” Kontra Daya said in a letter to the Commission on Elections.
The group said their participation in the party-list system made a mockery of the electoral process and disenfranchised the truly marginalized and underrepresented sectors, especially the poor and the powerless.
Dizon said the Singsons formed the Agrarian Development Association with former Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson Sr. as its first nominee and his son, the incumbent Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson Jr., as its second nominee.
Singson Sr.’s wife served as mayor of Candon from 1987 to 1995 and congresswoman of the second district of Ilocos Sur from 1998 to 2001. She was replaced by her son, Allen Singson, who is now the incumbent mayor of Candon.
Singson Sr. was former House deputy speaker and was congressman in the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th Congress. “The Singsons have been a political and economic power in Ilocos for decades and could never be considered as belonging to a marginalized and underrepresented sector in Congress. They have been very well represented in Congress as they have been since the 8th Congress. Nor does ADA and its nominees have any track record of adhering to the advocacy of the rights and welfare of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors,” Dizon said.
“The ADA party-list was obviously intended by the Singson political family as a vehicle to get more seats in Congress and remain in power.” Dizon said it would be a “major defeat for the party-list system” if the powerful Singson family got a seat in Congress through a party-list election.
He also said the Bagatsings put up the Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Kaunlaran or Kabaka with nominees Amanda Bagatsing and Carlito Guiang. Kabaka, Dizon said, was an accredited political party that been fielding candidates from Manila since 1987, but had now been converted into a party-list group.
“Kabaka’s participation in the party-list system of elections is highly questionable. It is an already established political party in Manila, where it fielded candidates in the Manila local elections since its founding and registration in 1987,” Dizon said.
He said even the official Comelec Web site listed Kabaka as one of the registered or accredited political parties for the 2010 national and local elections.
“And indeed Kabaka participated in the 2010 elections wherein it fielded a lone candidate – Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing,” Dizon said. He said Kabaka should not be allowed to participate in the party-list system since it was an already established political party and proven that it could win in the regular district elections. He said the Supreme Court had already declared that political parties not representing the marginalized and underrepresented sectors enumerated by law could not join the party-list election.
“In this case, it is obvious that Kabaka does not represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors. It is a traditional political party, fielding traditional politicians since its establishment,” Dizon told the Comelec. He said Kabaka’s first nominee, Amanda Christina Bagatsing, belonged to a political family and not to a marginalized or underrepresented sector.
Her father was Rep. Amado Bagatsing, who was congressman of the 5th District of Manila from 1987 to 1998 and from 2007 to this day. He said Amanda Bagatsing’s uncle, Ramon Bagatsing Jr., was also congressman of the 4th District of Manila from 1987 to 1998.
“Their father, and Amanda’s grandfather Ramon, was former and longest serving Mayor of Manila (from 1971 to 1986) and also served as congressman of the 3rd District of Manila from 1957 to 1971,” Dizon said.
“Clearly, the Bagatsing family is a powerful political clan in the 3rd, 4th and 5th district of Manila,” he said. Dizon said Amanda had no track record of advocating the rights and welfare of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors.
The same issue is being raised by Kontra Daya against the Velascos who formed the Ang Mata’y Alagaan with nominees Lorna Velasco, Tricia Nicole Velasco-Catera and Vincenet Michael Velasco, which Dizon said was a family enterprise of Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco. Dizon said the first nominee, Lorna Velasco, was the justice’s wife and the second and third nominees, Tricia Nicole and Vincent Michael, were his children.
Justice Velasco’s other son, Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, was the incumbent congressman representing the lone district of Marinduque. “None of these nominees, and even AMA itself, have any track record in adhering or advocating for the interest of the sector they wish to represent.
Neither do these nominees belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector they wish to represent. Even at the minimum, they do not belong to any marginalized and underrepresented sector as required by law,” Dizon said.
He said the Ramiros also put up the Ilaw ng Bayan with nominee Gerard Hilarion Ramiro, the son of former Misamis Occidental Rep. Hilarion Ramiro. “Ramiro’s father is long term congressman Hilarion Ramiro of the 2nd District of Misamis Occidental (1987 to 1995, 1998 to 2001), and his mother is congresswoman Herminia Ramiro also of the 2nd District of Misamis Occidental (1995 to 1998; 2001 to 2010), who is currently the governor of the province of Misamis Occidental. He clearly belongs to a powerful political family and could win in regular elections without exploiting the party-list system and circumventing the law,” Dizon said.
The Kontra Daya also wants the Movement of Women for Change and Reform with Mary Grace Ibuna as its No. 1 nominee disqualified. “While its first nominee, Mary Grace Ibuna, is clearly a woman, this does not automatically entitle her and her group a slot in the party-list system of elections. The 1987 Constitution, RA 7941 and the Supreme Court decision clearly stated that the nominees must belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors. Clearly, Ibuna does not fit to this category,” Dizon said.
He said Ibuna was the heiress to the wealthy Ibuna family whose grandfather was one of the longest serving mayors of San Juan, Metro Manila (12 years) and the heir of the late Negros Oriental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo.
“Even if her husband has died, she is no different from the wives and children of political clans who are disqualified from the party-list system, since she has as resources the political and economic clout of congressman Iggy Arroyo in Negros,” Dizon said.
He said 1Pinoy Para sa Kalikasan Inc., with nominee Roselyn Espina-Paras from the politically powerful and well-connected Espina clan in Eastern Visayas, must be disqualified along with the Alliance for Reforms Towards Effective Management and Sustainable Development represented by Dinagat Islands Mayor Gwendoly Durano, whose term ends in 2013.
Espina-Paras ran but lost for Naval vice mayor in 2010. Dizon said Durano belonged to the rich and politically powerful Ecleo clan whose second nominee was Jose Aspiras, the lawyer of Ruben Ecleo Jr., while the third nominee was Jannis Teopo, the owner of San Jose Dinagat Mining Corp. and whose interest, Dizon said, was “clearly adverse to the interest of the sector he intends to represent.”