MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – The pro-Aquino Black and White Movement has been disqualified from participating in the party-list race in May 2013.
The Commission on Election (Comelec) announced on Wednesday, November 7, that its First Division has denied the group's application to join the party-list election, saying the group is packed with people identified with the Aquino administration.
In a decision signed last October 29, the Comelec First Division said Black and White does not represent and seek to uplift the marginalized.
"There is no problem as to the sectors which Black and White seeks to represent. The petition categorically states that 'the Black and White Political Party is an organized group of women, youth, and urban poor who are committed to ensuring a democratic government that is just and accountable,'" the decision said.
"However, Black and White fails to evidently show through its articles of incorporation, by-laws, history, and track record that it represents and seeks to uplift the marginalized sectors of women, youth, and urban poor," it added.
The decision was signed by Comelec First Division Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Armando Velasco, and Christian Robert Lim. (Watch more in the video below.)
The Supreme Court, in the Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Party vs Commission on Elections case, set 8 guidelines for screening party-list groups like political parties, sectors, organizations, or coalitions:
The Comelec decision should erase doubts that the poll agency is "yellow," said Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr, who announced the ruling in an interview with reporters Wednesday. Yellow is the campaign color of President Benigno Aquino III.
"There are statements coming from everybody na lumilinya raw kami sa yellow. Hindi, pink ang linya ko, pink," explained Brillantes, eliciting laughter from reporters. (There are statements coming from everybody that we are aligned with the yellow. No, I'm aligned with the pink, pink.)
One of the group's proposed nominees is singer Leah Navarro, who campaigned for Mr Aquino in the 2010 presidential race. Its other nominees for 2013 include Marco Elmer Cabrera, Jose Morales, Mary Shinn Ramos, and Nolasco Apolonio.
The group's president, Vicente Romano, previously worked at the tourism department after Aquino became president in 2010.
The Black and White Movement may appeal the decision as this was made only by a division of the poll body. Once it files an appeal, the group's case will be tackled by the Comelec en banc.
Meanwhile, the Comelec is tackling the possible disqualification of another group closely identified with the Aquino administration. This is the incumbent group Akbayan, which has members who now occupy government positions.
The Palace, for its part, said it respects the Comelec's standards in disqualifying certain party-list groups. Those who want to question the poll body should run to the Supreme Court, said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
“The party-list groups must remember that the Comelec is a constitutional commission, separate, and independent from the executive branch... Those who have already been disqualified certainly would have the right to raise their issues before the Supreme Court,” Lacierda explained.
'Lazy, lacking in empathy'
The Comelec has disqualified several other party-list groups, including 19 others on Wednesday. Some of those barred from running have close ties with the Arroyo administration.
The group of Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for example, has been disqualified for failing to represent and uplift the marginalized.
In an en banc resolution, the Comelec said Mikey Arroyo's Ang Galing Pinoy party list has only authored one bill for the sector it claims to represent – security guards.
“The bill has just gone past the first reading and was referred to the House Committee on Public Order and Safety. If one is truly an advocate, he/she is expected to exert his/her best efforts to push for legislation that will alleviate the cause of the sector/s he/she is representing,” the Comelec said in its en banc resolution.
“We do not know if this is just sheer laziness but to us, this is glaring lack of zeal and empathy for the plight of the truly marginalized,” the poll body added.
The topnotcher in the 2010 elections, Ako Bicol, which is also perceived to be pro-Arroyo, has also been disqualified for failing to represent the marginalized.– Rappler.com