MANILA, Philippines – Far from representing marginalized sectors, the majority of the 177 party list groups seeking at least one sectoral seat in the House of Representatives in the May 9 elections are linked to powerful interest groups, according to polling watchdog Kontra Daya.
Kontra Daya said that, based on his analysis, at least 120, or 67%, of the 177 party list groups accredited by the Electoral Commission (Comelec) were either linked to political clans, large corporations, politicians in place, in the government or in the army. ; have pending court cases or criminal charges; or have a questionable background.
“The country’s party list system continues to be hijacked by the rich and powerful. About 70% of party list groups are used as a back door to further strengthen their political and economic interests,” Kontra Daya said in a statement on Thursday.
Among the party list groups reported, Kontra Daya named ACT-CIS, Wow Pilipinas, 4P’s, BHW, IPEACEEPANAW, Duterte Youth, Mocha and Abante Sambayanan due to their multiple alleged links to interest groups.
The Constitution provided for party list elections to give marginalized and underrepresented sectors a chance to elect representatives to Congress. However, in 2013 the Supreme Court overturned a previous ruling and allowed political parties and groups not representing marginalized and underrepresented sectors to participate in the party list race.
Under Republic Act No. 7941, a party list group must obtain at least 2% of the total votes cast in party list elections to gain a seat in Congress.
Leading groups can have a maximum of three seats each.
There are currently 63 party list lawmakers in the House.
In the last elections of 2019, Kontra Daya flagged 62, or about half of the 134 accredited party list groups, for their alleged links to powerful interest groups.
Among the 177 party list groups running in the May 9 elections, at least 44 groups are “controlled by political clans”, the group said.
At least 21 groups are linked to big business and at least 32 groups are linked to the government or the military, he added.
At least 26 groups have designated local officials in place and at least 19 groups have pending court cases or criminal charges.
Kontra Daya found that at least 34 party list groups “have unknown or unclear pleas and representations”.
“Comelec should explain why it continues to allow dodgy groups to hijack the party list system, denying marginalized groups a voice in the House of Representatives,” he said.
Comelec declined to comment on the poll’s watchdog findings.
For the May 9 elections, Comelec had listed 10 candidates for the presidency, nine candidates for the vice-presidency, 64 for the senator and a record number of 177 party groups.
A total of 270 party list groups applied to participate in the May 9 elections.
Comelec rejected 93 and accredited 165 groups of party lists; however, he was forced to include in the official list of candidates 12 groups of rejected party lists which obtained a restraining order from the Supreme Court.
What should have been a 178th group of candidates on the party list that won a last-minute restraining order from the Supreme Court were no longer included by Comelec since ballot printing had already begun .
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