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Party-List Groups and the 2004 Elections

by Alexander Martin Remollino / Bulatlat Monday, Apr. 02, 2007 at 8:53 AM

A review of what happened in the 2004 party-list election is necessary to know not only how many seats were given to party-list groups but also to know the kind of representation the marginalized sectors got.

A review of what happened in the 2004 party-list election is necessary to know not only how many seats were given to party-list groups but also to know the kind of representation the marginalized sectors got.

Based on Comelec data on the 2004 elections, out of a total 66 party-list groups that participated, only 15 of them got the necessary votes to have 24 seats in the House of Representatives.

The party-list representatives in the 13th Congress are: Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño, and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna (People First); Edgar Valdez, Ernesto Pablo, and Sunny Rose Madamba of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC); Etta Rosales, Mario Aguja, and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel of Akbayan; Rene Velarde and Hans Christian Señeres of Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay or Let Life Grow); and Crispin Beltran and Rafael Mariano of AnakPawis (Toiling Masses);

Joel Villanueva of Citizen's Battle Against Corruption (Cibac); Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP); Renato Magtubo of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM or Workers’ Party); Benjamin Cruz of the Butil (Grain) Farmers Party; Eulogio Magsaysay of the Alliance of Volunteer Educators (Ave); Ernesto Gidaya of the Veterans Freedom Party (VFP); Guillermo Cua of the Cooperative-National Confederation of Cooperatives (Coop-Natcco); Florencio Noel of An Waray (literally, Those Who Have Nothing); Mujiv Hataman of Anak Mindanao (Amin or Children of Mindanao), Acmad Tomawis of Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino (Alif or The Struggle of Indigenous Filipino); and Rodante Marcoleta of Alagad (literally, Agent).

Bayan Muna, a consistent topnotcher in the 2001 and 2004 party-list election, has established a reputation for taking the cudgels for the basic masses (workers, peasants, and urban poor) and other marginalized sectors. According to its website, the party-list group is “a national political party composed mainly of workers, farmers, professionals and other progressive sectors that champions the cause of ‘New Politics, the Politics of Change’ in the Philippines.”

PM is a worker-based affiliate organization of Sanlakas, which split from Bayan in the early 1990s over ideological differences.

Akbayan, on the other hand, represents a group that split from Bayan in the late 1990s, also over differences in ideology. It has affiliate groups representing workers, government employees, women workers, peasants, migrant workers, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

For its part, An Waray describes itself as the party-list group of the people of Eastern Visayas, a region encompassing the Samar-Leyte provinces and Biliran. The people of Eastern Visayas are known as Warays. The party-list group has as its adviser former Northern Samar Rep. Wilmar Lucero who was described in the book Pork and Other Perks (published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism) as being rich enough to own a private helipad, among other properties.

Alif’s Tomawis, meanwhile, is said to be a businessman engaged in trucking services in Iraq among other overseas business contracts.

Another party-list group, AMIN, is said to be a representative of the Moro people. In the May 2004 elections, it competed with the Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Moro People) Party for the Moro vote. Amin became controversial when Suara Bangsamoro documented cases of dagdag-bawas (vote-padding and vote-shaving) in the province of Lanao del Norte. Based on election returns from Lanao del Norte, Suara Bangsamoro stressed that in some 20 precincts in the province there were more votes for party-list groups than the total number of actual votes cast. In these questionable election returns, AMIN had remarkably high number of votes.

Two of the party-list winners, APEC and Coop-Natcco, represent large cooperative networks. Coop-Natcco is a member of the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (Code-NGO), a coalition of reformist non-government organizations which initially supported President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but is now critical of the Arroyo administration.

Three party-list groups that made it to the 13th Congress are said to have connections with religious formations. Buhay allegedly has links with the El Shaddai since Rene Velarde, one of the party-list group’s representatives, is a son of El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde. On the other hand, Cibac had Joel Villanueva as its representative in the 13th Congress and he happens to be a son of Jesus Is Lord Movement’s Eddie Villanueva who ran for president under the Bangon Pilipinas (Arise Philippines) Movement. Alagad, for its part, is reportedly supported by the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ). INC claims more than a million devotee-voters.

Meanwhile Butil, as its name suggests, represents the peasantry. Benjamin Cruz, who represented the party-list group in the 12th Congress, served his second term in the 13th Congress. Ironically, however, Cruz, together with House Speaker Jose de Venecia, co-authored House Bill No. 3339 which seeks to eliminate quantitative restrictions on rice imports and replacing these with tariffs. According to critics, HB 3339, if passed into law, will destroy the domestic rice industry by allowing unfair competition with countries with higher agricultural modernization and lower production cost and consequently displace some 2.4 million farmers. Bulatlat

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