2016 party-list nominees: Taking a 'shortcut' to Congress?
MANILA, Philippines – On May 9, voters will choose a new set of leaders, including organizations that would get to earn seats in the House of Representatives through the party list.
In principle, party-list representation in the Lower House aims to include members of marginalized and underrepresented sectors in the legislative process to draft laws that will uplift their welfare.
But over the years, while there have been nominees and congressmen from these sectors, some individuals and groups – mostly from political dynasties – have taken advantage of a "loophole" which allows them to treat the party list as a "shortcut" to Congress.
In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that parties and organizations "do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent 'any marginalized and underrepresented' sector" to join the party list.
The crop of party-list nominees for the 2016 polls reflects this. It's a mixed bag – reelectionists, political dynasts, former congressmen and government officials, and legitimate members of marginalized sectors.
It's therefore important to know more about the nominees representing these party-list groups.
All in the family
Among the outgoing party-list representatives, at least 7 are seeking to be replaced by their relatives:
- Michaelina Antonio (Agbiag! Timpuyog Ilocano, 1st nominee) – wife of Representative Patricio Antonio
- Kathleen Briones (Agricultural Sector Alliance Center of the Philippines or AGAP, 2nd nominee) – daughter of Representative Nicanor Briones, who is running for governor of Batangas
- Vini Nola Ortega (Abono, 2nd nominee) – wife of Representative Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III, who is running for governor of La Union
- Maria Rosella Pagdilao (ACT-CIS, 1st nominee) – wife of Representative Samuel Pagdilao, who is running for senator
- Jocelyn Rodriguez and Virginia Sering (Abante Mindanao or AMIN, 1st and 2nd nominees) – sister and sister-in-law, respectively, of Representative Maximo Rodriguez Jr, who is running for district representative of Cagayan de Oro City
- Tricia Nicole Velasco-Catera (Ang Mata'y Alagaan or MATA, 1st nominee) – daughter of Representative Lorna Velasco, who is running for mayor of Torrijos, Marinduque (READ: Supreme Court justice's family building a political dynasty?)
Roy Señeres Jr and Golda Hannah Isadora Señeres-Francisco, children of the late Representative Roy Señeres Sr, are the first two nominees of the OFW Family Club. Butil Farmers Party's 1st nominee Cecilia Chavez is the daughter of the late Representative Leonila Chavez.
Meanwhile, Remedios Arquiza, spouse of former Senior Citizens Representative Godofredo Arquiza, is the #1 nominee of one faction of the said party-list group. Also, Michael Democrito Mendoza – 3rd nominee of the Mendoza faction of TUCP – is the brother of Representative Raymond Democrito Mendoza.
At least 13 more nominees are relatives of current and past legislators, including the son of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Narciso Santiago III.
- Harlin Neil Abayon III (Aangat Tayo, 1st nominee) – son of Northern Samar Representative Harlin Abayon
- Ricardo Belmonte Jr (SBP, 1st nominee) – nephew of House Speaker and Quezon City Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr
- Diana Biron (Abyan Ilonggo, 2nd nominee) – mother of Iloilo Representative Hernan Biron Jr
- King George Leandro Antonio Collantes (Consla, 2nd nominee) – son of Batangas Representative Nelson Collantes
- Jose Ciceron Lorenzo Haresco (Ang Kasangga, 5th nominee) – son of Aklan Representative Teodorico Haresco Jr
- Ernesto Herrera II (TUCP faction, 2nd nominee) – incumbent mayor of Calape, Bohol and son of the late senator Ernesto Herrera
- Julius Caesar Herrera (1-Ahapo, 3rd nominee) – former vice governor of Bohol and brother of ex-senator Herrera
- Nereo Raymundo Joaquin Jr (1-Pabahay 1st nominee) – son of former Laguna Representative Nereo Joaquin
- Jericho Jonas Nograles (PBA, 2nd nominee) – brother of Davao City Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles
- Narciso Santiago III (Sinag, 1st nominee) – son of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago
- Grace Kristine Singson-Meehan (ADDA, 1st nominee) – daughter of Ilocos Sur Representative Eric Singson
- Mariano Jose Villafuerte III (Nactodap, 2nd nominee) – son of former Camarines Sur Representative Luis Villafuerte
Curiously, two of Santiago's fellow nominees in the Sinag Tungo sa Kaunlaran (Sinag) party list are from two political dynasties. Nominee #2 is Nina Ricci Ynares, sister of Antipolo City mayor Casimiro "Junjun" Ynares III, while the 3rd nominee is Gil Raymond Umali, brother of Nueva Ecija governor Aurelio Umali.
Fastlane to Congress?
Names of some party-list groups – like Ako Bicol, Abyan Ilonggo, and Abante Mindanao (Amin) – are straightforward enough, as they represent a region or a group of people.
But if you go only by the name of at least 4 party-list groups, you wouldn't know they have nominees from the same city, province or region. Incidentally, some of them are from political dynasties, too. Some are even incumbent elected officials.
Take the Kasangga sa Kaunlaran party or Ang Kasangga, for example. Its nominees hail from provinces in Western Visayas. The 1st nominee is Aklan Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo. Following her is former transportation undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, who is from Antique.
The rest of the nominees include Jose Ciceron Haresco, son of former Ang Kasangga representative and current Aklan Congressman Teodorico Haresco Jr.
Then there's the Abang Lingkod party list, with its first 3 nominees all from Negros island: reelectionist Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano, current Negros Oriental Representative Manuel Iway, and Jeffrey Hidalgo, who lost in the San Carlos City vice mayoralty race in 2013.
Another party-list group, Association for Development Dedicated to Agriculture and Fisheries (ADDA), has nominees from Ilocos Sur. First nominee Grace Kristine Singson-Meehan is the daughter of Ilocos Sur Representative Eric Singson. Second nominee Jemarose Gomintong is a lawyer based in the province, 3rd nominee Leonofre Gironella is the former mayor of Salcedo town, while 4th nominee Chester Elaydo is the outgoing mayor of San Esteban town.
The first two nominees of the Serbisyo sa Bayan Party (SBP) are outgoing councilors of Quezon City: Ricardo Belmonte Jr and Dorothy Delarmente, both of the city's first district.
See the full list of party-list nominees and Rappler's notes on each of the groups' nominees below.
Meanwhile, some party lists represent various interest groups, such as:
- Alagaan Natin ang Kalusugan (Anakalusugan) – At least 3 of its nominees are affiliated with the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), an international inter-faith network
- Confederation of Savings and Loan Associations (Consla) – All of its nominees are members, or are connected with, the Air Materiel Wing Savings and Loan Association Inc (AMWSLAI)
- Guardians Brotherhood (1GB) and Katipunan ng mga Guardians Brotherhood (KGB)
- Partido ng Bayan ang Bida (PBB) – Its 1st and 3rd nominees, Lorenzo Cadsawan and Roger Federezo, are with the FPJ for President Movement (FPJPM)
- Talino at Galing ng Pinoy (TGP) – At least two of its nominees are leaders of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity
The first two nominees of Tanggol Maralita (TAMA), Darlito dela Cruz and Queen Ashley Ablan, are officers of HPI Direct Sales and Trading Corporation, a firm previously flagged by SEC in May 2015 for the unauthorized solicitation of investments.
In March, the National Bureau of Investigation charged 15 HPI executives, including Dela Cruz and Ablan – for allegedly duping their clients of over P1 billion through an investment scam.
Meanwhile, at least two nominees of One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals or 1Pacman, are connected with the "Pacman" himself, boxer, senatorial candidate, and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao.
Two more nominees are top officials of ports industry company GlobalPort 900 Inc. The group claims on its website that 1Pacman is "for the poorest of the poor" and "a coalition of advocates for the marginalized and displaced in society."
Its 1st nominee is Michael Odylon Romero, the CEO of GlobalPort 900, vice chairman of budget airline AirAsia, and team owner of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) team GlobalPort Batang Pier. Fourth nominee Marvee Espejo is GlobalPort 900's chief finance officer.
Its 2nd nominee Enrico "Eric" Pineda is Pacquiao's business manager and the team manager of PBA team Mahindra Enforcer, which Pacquiao currently plays for. Its 3rd nominee Nicolas "Nick" Enciso VIII is a former deputy director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), a real estate agent, and a close friend of Pacquiao.
Former government officials, appointed and elected, are also vying for party-list seats in the May 2016 polls. Among them are ex-Armed Forces chief Victor Ibrado and former Negros Oriental vice governor Apolinario Arnaiz Jr.
- Apolinario Arnaiz Jr (AAMBIS-OWA, 2nd nominee) – former vice governor, Negros Oriental
- Carlos Cao Jr (PBB, 2nd nominee) – former administrator, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
- Raoul Creencia (An Waray, 2nd nominee) – former Government Corporate Counsel
- Carmelita Crisologo (Akbay Kalusugan or Akin, 1st nominee) – former director at the Bureau of Customs
- Corazon Alma de Leon (Akin, 2nd nominee) – former chairperson, Civil Service Commission
- Victor Ibrado (Abante Retirees, 3rd nominee) – former chief of staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines
- Ramsey Ocampo (Aagapay sa Matatanda or AMA, 2nd nominee) – former director general, Philippine National Police (PNP) Narcotics Command
- Melquiades Robles (Buhay, 3rd nominee) – former administrator, Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA)
- Leocadio Santiago Jr (Agham, 2nd nominee) – former director, PNP Special Action Force (SAF)
- Raul Urgello (Abante Retirees, 2nd nominee) – former commanding general, Philippine Army
- Patrick Velez (Guardians Brotherhood or 1-GB, 1st nominee) – former assistant secretary, Department of National Defense
- Tomasito Villarin (Akbayan, 1st nominee) – former undersecretary for political affairs, Office of the Political Adviser, Office of the President
- Javier Zacate (Umalab Ka, 1st nominee) – former mayor of Sulat, Eastern Samar
Some colorful, prominent and controversial personalities are likewise running for public office under the party list. These include actor Cesar Montano and lawyer Harry Roque.
- Actor Cesar Montano (Aangat Tayo, 2nd nominee)
- Actress Maria Suzette Ranillo (Akin, 4th nominee)
- Lawyer Harry Roque (Kabalikat ng Mamamayan or Kabayan, 1st nominee)
- Lawyer Manuelito Luna (1-Abilidad, 2nd nominee)
- LGBT rights advocate Danton Remoto (Movement of Women for Change and Reform or Melchora, 2nd nominee)
- Retired brigadier general Danilo Lim (RAM, 1st nominee)
- Mary Grace Ibuna (Melchora, 1st nominee), common-law wife of the late Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo
- Evelyn Catherine Silagon (Construction Workers' Solidarity or CWS, 1st nominee), previously linked to ex-Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos
Bona fide advocates
Nevertheless, many party-list nominees are from organizations that have been active in helping the marginalized and pushing passionately for their respective causes.
For instance, Hope Hervilla, the 3rd nominee of Bayan Muna, is a citizen journalist and activist leader. She is the founder of Voices of Hope, a collective of citizen journalists writing about the aftermath and the recovery in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
Sarah Jane Elago, 1st nominee of Kabataan party list, is the president of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP).
From the transport sector are leaders and 1st nominees of the following groups: Ariel Lim of the National Confederation of Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Nactodap), George San Mateo of Piston Land Transport Coalition, and Fermin Octobre of Dumper Philippines Taxi Drivers Association (Dumper).
Many 1st nominees are teachers, professors, and members of the academe: Winifred Ballada of Academicians, Students and Educators Alliance (ASEAN Inc); Renato Legaspi of Central Luzon Alliance for Socialized Education (CLASE); Puramaryver Saquing of 1-Abilidad; Salvador Belaro Jr of 1-Ang Edukasyon; Benjo Basas of Ating Guro; and Virgilio Lacson of Manila Teachers.
Forty-one of the 43 winning groups in the 2013 party-list election want to be part of the 17th Congress, with a term from 2016 to 2019. The remaining two groups, Senior Citizens and Ating Koop, still don’t have representatives in the Lower House due to pending resolution of their cases before the courts.
Out of the 55 incumbent party-list representatives belonging to these groups, at least 33 are seeking reelection: 21 are running for a second term, and 12 for a 3rd term.
|Running for a 2nd term
||Running for a 3rd term|
The list above excludes Representative Raymond Democrito Mendoza of the Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP). Despite being on his third and last term, he remains the first nominee of one faction of TUCP. In 2014, it was reported that Mendoza would be replaced by Roland de la Cruz, the 1st nominee of another TUCP faction. But as of this posting, Mendoza remains on the roll of Lower House members.
Meanwhile, current Negros Oriental 2nd district Representative Manuel Iway, the second nominee of the Abang Lingkod party-list group, hopes to be reelected as a party-list representative.
Twelve former party-list representatives are aiming for a return to Congress:
- Catalina Bagasina – Alliance of Laborers and Employers (ALE), 1st nominee
- Salvador Britanico – Banat, 1st nominee
- Salvador Cabaluna III – 1-CARE, 2nd nominee
- Teodoro Casiño – Bayan Muna, 2nd nominee
- Alfredo Garbin – Ako Bicol, 2nd nominee
- Bernadette Herrera-Dy – Bagong Henerasyon (BH), 1st nominee
- Renato Magtubo – Partido Manggagawa (PM), 1st nominee
- Rodante Marcoleta – 1-Sagip, 1st nominee (he previously represented Alagad)
- Rafael Mariano – Anakpawis, 2nd nominee
- Angelo Palmones – Agham, 1st nominee
- Mark Aeron Sambar – Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA), 1st nominee
- Narciso Santiago III – Sinag, 1st nominee (he previously represented the Alliance of Rural Concerns)
Four ex-district representatives are planning to stage a comeback as well, but through the party list. All are first nominees of their respective groups:
- Plaridel Abaya – Cavite, 1st district (1995-2001) – Abante Retirees
- Jeci Lapus – Tarlac, 3rd district (2007-13) – Aagapay sa Matatanda (AMA)
- Rolex Suplico – Iloilo, 5th district (1998-2007) – Abyan Ilonggo (AI)
- Rodolfo Tuazon – Samar, 1st district (1992-2001) – Ako an Bisaya (AAB)
Two sets of nominees
Six party-list groups submitted two sets of nominees to the Comelec. This is mainly due to infighting between factions in these groups.
These are 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy (1-CARE), Adhikaing Tinataguyod ng Kooperatiba (Ating Koop), Citizens' Battle Against Corruption (Cibac), Mamamayan Tungo sa Maunlad na Pilipinas (MTM Phils), Senior Citizens, and TUCP.
How the party-list election works
In a nutshell, voters choose one among the 115 party-list groups on the official ballot. The winning groups earn a seat (or seats) in the Lower House based on a computation, taking into account the number of votes each group garnered.
Only the party-list groups' names, however, will appear on the ballot; the list of nominees of each group is posted separately on the Comelec website. These lists are submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) months before the polls.
The winning groups then send their nominees to Congress, based on the number of seats they earn and going by the nominees' order on the list. – Rappler.com