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ELECTION WATCHDOG KONTRA DAYA said there are party-list groups, whose nominees are recent incumbent government officials, including some who are still believed to be supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte despite their controversial removal from public office.

It said the first nominee of Pambansang Nagkakaisa sa Paggawa at Agrikultura is Socrates Piñol, a provincial board member of North Cotabato and brother of Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

The first and third nominees of Gawing Una Tagumpay ng Ordinaryong Mamamayan are worth noting, as the first nominee, Rex Anthony Villegas, is a former board member of Nayong Filipino who was fired due to a complaint by another board member who happens to be a niece of President Duterte. The third nominee, Maria Katrina Nicole Contacto, is a legal counsel of Duterte in the latter’s disqualification case in the 2016 elections. She is also chairperson of the Youth Affairs Committee of PDP-Laban.

The Hugpong Federal Movement of the Philippines has as first nominee Peter Laviña, former administrator of the National Irrigation Administration, who resigned amid corruption allegations, according to news reports.

Similarly, ABAKADA Party-list’s first nominee is Jonathan Dela Cruz, former board member of the Government Service Insurance System, who was fired due to alleged contract anomalies.

The first nominee of Bahay para sa Pamilyang Pilipino, Inc., Naella Rose Bainto-Aguinaldo, was appointed member of the Career Executive Service Board by Duterte in 2017. She also happens to be the wife of Commission on Audit Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo.

For the Global Workers and Family Federation, the first nominee is Ermie Lagman Garon, a commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women, representing the business and industry sector and is a member of the People’s National Movement for Federalism.

The first nominee of Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa, Inc. is Aloysia Tiongson Lim, wife of Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Danilo Lim.

Based on its public pronouncements, the Duterte Youth Party-list is apparently supportive of the President and runs on a platform of countering another youth party-list group that is known to be critical of the administration.

It is the only party-list group that has used “Duterte” in its name. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) must examine if such group is legitimately seeking to represent the youth or is merely using the name of the President for political gain. The group is also associated with Duterte appointee Ronald Cardema of the National Youth Commission which raises questions on the role of the government agency in the affairs of the party-list group. 

Calls to COMELEC

COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a media interview that the poll body scrapped the review of party-list groups due to the ruling of the Supreme Court in 2013 that nominees do not have to be part of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors they claim to represent.

However, Kontra Daya asserted that COMELEC can still look into several issues related to the party-list groups. It said for example, the poll body can conduct a public hearing on party-list groups and the track records of their nominees in order to clarify their decision to run in the 2019 elections.

According to Kontra Daya, some nominees appear to have become overnight members and nominees of their party-list groups, particularly during the period of the filing of candidacies, thus raising questions regarding their track record and advocacy. “This may be the case for party-list groups whose nominees only recently resigned from government just in time for the filing of their certificates of nomination and acceptance,” it said.

There were no immediate statements from the candidates mentioned by Kontra Daya, whose convener in Associate Professor Danilo Arao. (With a report from the Mindanao Examiner.)


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