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Jalosjos group barred from party-list polls

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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The Commission on Elections prohibits 15 more party-list groups from participating in the 2013 elections

JALOSJOS' GROUP. Kakusa, which is led by convicted rapist and former Zamboanga del Representative Romeo Jalosjos, has been barred from running in 2013. File photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

MANILA, Philippines – The party-list group headed by Romeo Jalosjos, a convicted rapist and former Zamboanga del Norte representative, has been disqualified from running in the 2013 elections. It currently has one representative in Congress.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes Jr on Wednesday, October 24, announced the disqualification of the group Kapatiran ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala (Kakusa), which has Jalojos as president and chair emeritus. 

Brillantes refused to give an explanation, saying the written decision should be made available soon. 

Kakusa’s sole representative in Congress is Ranulfo Canonigo. Kakusa was the only incumbent group that the Comelec disqualified in the latest update on party-list groups.

Rappler tried to reach Canonigo’s office at the House of Representatives, but no reply was available as of posting time.

The party’s founder, Jalosjos himself is seeking the mayor’s position in Zamboanga City, sparking intense political debate. Convicted in 1997, Jalosjos walked free in 2009 after the government cut short his prison term.JALOSJOS' GROUP. Claiming to represent unjustly detained prisoners, the party-list group Kakusa has been disqualified by Comelec. It is headed by convicted rapist Romeo Jalosjos (left). Photo from Kakusa's website

On Wednesday, Comelec barred 12 registered party-list groups, including Kakusa, from running in 2013. This means Comelec had accredited these groups in the past, and is now withdrawing their accreditation.

The poll body also refused to accredit 3 new applicants.

The registered but disqualified party-list groups include the following:

  1. Agri
  2. Akma-PTM
  3. Ako Agila
  4. Ako Bahay
  5. Bantay
  6. Pacyaw
  7. PM Masda
  8. Kakusa
  9. Cofa
  10. Araro
  11. Katutubo
  12. Opo

The Comelec, meanwhile, did not accredit the following new applicants for the party-list elections:

  1. RAM Guardians
  2. Alyansa para sa Demokrasya
  3. Association of Airline and Airport Workers

The poll body has yet to release its decision on Akbayan, an incumbent party-list group that has widely been criticized for its ties with the Aquino administration. On Tuesday, leftist groups trooped to the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila to file a formal petition seeking to disqualify Akbayan in 2013. (Watch more in the video below.)

Mahiya naman po kayo, Akbayan, sa inyong mga mukha dahil nga po ‘yung mga totoong marginalized ay wala ho talaga sa kalingkingan ng inabot n’yo na,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said. (Shame on you, Akbayan, because the genuinely marginalized have a long way to go to get to your position.)

Comelec is now purging its list of party-list bets, and has disqualified various incumbent groups. The most prominent group among the recently disqualified ones is Ako Bicol, the frontrunner in the 2010 elections that is closely associated with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

Criticized system

A way to ensure that marginalized groups and small-scale political parties get represented in Congress, the party-list system has received criticism for allowing millionaires to run as party-list representatives.

In a previous case, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that party-list groups should enable “Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors to be elected.” The SC established 7 other guidelines for screening party-list groups:

  • The religious sector may not be represented in the party-list system;
  • The parties must not be disqualified under Section 6 of RA 7941 (Party-List System Act);
  • The parties must not be an adjunct of, or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by, the government;
  • The parties must not only comply with the requirements of the law; its nominees must likewise do so;
  • The parties must represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors; so also must its nominees;
  • The parties must likewise be able to contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation

– Rappler.com 

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com