By Sugar Hicap and Lollipop de los Reyes
Quezon City, Philippines- Party list coalition Makabayan today strongly urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to reconsider its earlier resolution to remove Migrante Sectoral Party from the list of accredited party-list organizations participating in the 2010 elections.
“Thousands of overseas Filpinos are in danger of being disenfranchised by this COMELEC ruling. They who contribute so much from the economy have for so long been marginalized by the electoral system. Now, once again, they are being denied their right to representation,” said Rep. Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan.
In an en banc resolution last October 13, 2009, COMELEC barred Migrante and 25 other party-list organizations from participating in the 2010 elections. Migrante, according to the commission, participated and failed to gain seats in two straight elections prior to the upcoming polls.
It is on record, however, that Migrante only participated during the 2004 elections and signified their intent not to run in 2007 while maintaining the option to run in the next election.
“It is clear from its track record that Migrante is a legitimate party-list organization, with the largest and broadest membership among overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines. It cannot be denied that to delist Migrante is to disenfranchise their constituency,” explained Ocampo.
The Makabayan president further pointed to COMELEC’s wild inconsistencies in its decision to delist and maintain party-list groups in its accredited list. For instance, groups like BISA, Pinoy Overseas Party and Banat were allowed to run in 2004 even as they failed to garner the required two-percent of total party-list votes to garner seats in 1998. These groups also failed to run during the 2001 elections.
The activist lawmaker lamented that groups with dubious representation like (Mike Arroyo’s sister) Ma. Lourdes Arroyo’s Kasangga Party-list and butcher general Jovito Palparan’s Bantay Party-list were allowed to participate in 2007 and defame the true spirit of the Party-List System Act.
“All these point to a political motive in the delisting of Migrante. After all, Migrante, along with the other progressive party-list organizations, have been the most vocal in criticizing government misdeeds and even exposing electoral fraud during the past elections,” said Ocampo.
Ocampo also urged the commission not to give in to pressure from Malacañang. He asked COMELEC to give progressive party-list organizations like Migrante a chance to finally run for House seats that would represent the millions of Filipinos long denied of due representation.
While Comelec was slapped with criticisms over its decision to delist Migrante sectoral party list, the militant Bayan Muna party list welcomed the statement of House Speaker Prospero Nograles expressing the urgent need to stop the abuses of oil cartel-Shell, Caltex and Petron.
Nograles also said that the Oil Deregulation Law fell short of its supposed intent to put an end to the monopoly of the big three on the oil industry.
“It’s good that Speaker Nograles has seen the light on this issue of oil deregulation. For the longest time, Shell, Caltex and Petron have been abusing the law by jacking up their prices at the slightest excuse. Oil deregulation has only made the cartel even more abusive, and consumers have been at their mercy since the law was approved in 1998. More than a decade later, we have all seen the disastrous impact of oil deregulation, and it’s high time that the law be repealed,” Bayan Muna secretary general Nathanael Santiago said.
Santiago said that despite Nograles’ assertion that there was no more time to repeal the law, he said that “it was still important for Congress to make the attempt.”
He said that “all it will take is strong and determined political will to repeal the law and send an unmistakable signal to the Big Three that their abuses are not being tolerated.”
“There is still enough time to fast-track measures to repeal the oil deregulation law. If bills pushed by Malacanang can be rushed and even passed in a series of overnight plenary sessions, why not a bill putting an end to oil deregulation? It would be a great service to once and for all repeal this law that has brought nothing but added economic burdens to the people,” Santiago said.
“Bayan Muna is certain that our many lawmakers are willing to sacrifice a few sleepless nights for this effort. The oil companies should be taught a lesson, and this could be a good first step towards regulating the oil industry,” he added.
“If Speaker Nograles will put his influence and clout behind calls for the repeal of oil deregulation law, it will be possible to junk the said law before the end of the 14th Congress,” Santiago said. #