Incumbent party-list groups shut down offices

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Incumbent party-list groups suspended their services Tuesday, November 13, to protest Bayan Muna's alleged plan to seek the disqualification of some party-list groups. 

An Waray Rep Bem Noel said that the move came in response to Bayan Muna's pronouncements that it is the only "legitimate" party-list group. 

But Bayan Muna Rep Teddy Casiño denied that that the party-list ever made such statements. 

"We've never claimed to be the only legitimate party-list. We have stated though that there are many fake and unqualified party-lists and they should not feel alluded to if they're not. In fact, it is the duty of all party-lists to ensure the integrity & credibility of the party-list system & help the Comelec (Commission on Elections) weed out the bogus ones," Casiño said. 

Some 17 party-list groups said they will stop receiving solitication requests until the end of the week, and all constituents asking for financial help will be referred to Bayan Muna.  

"'Bayan Muna has been attacking us left and right for the past how many days in the region but when they succeeded with Ako Bicol, of course we were scared," Noel said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

"So you have the monopoly? You're the only ones who can claim that you are able to help people? In Region 8, I'm sure that majority of those who asked for help received those from me. Somehow, they've been making a lot of noise but we have been silent," he added.

The move coincided with the Supreme Court's issuance of a status quo ante order in favor of Ako Bicol, Apec, 1-Care, and Alliance of Rural Concerns, which were earlier disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The Comelec is the process of purging the party-list system. Bayan Muna's allies have also asked the Comelec to disqualify Akbayan, a party-list group identified with the Aquino administration.

"They should just defend themselves in the Comelec just as we've been doing and not resort to such actions that will make their constituents suffer unnecessarily," Casiño said. 

Noel said that An Waray decided to shut down its regional and House offices this morning and other party-list groups followed suit after he called them up.

But he clarified that there is no bad blood between them and Bayan Muna representatives Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares as most of the criticism against the party-list groups are coming from Bayan Muna members in the field.

"Up to now, there is really no bad blood. I have nothing personal against Ted, and Neri. I'm just suprised why they can't tell their people in the region to stop saying these things," he said. 

Casiño had a similar message for his colleagues. 

"We will always be ready to work with other party-lists and hope their actions wont get in the ay of our duties to our constituents," he said. 

Outside Yacap party-list Representative Carol Lopez's office, a sign says: “For solicitations, please proceed to (the) office of Bayan Muna.”

“As a sign of protest [against] Bayan Muna's pronouncement na sila lang ang lehitimong partylist, nagkaisa ang karamihan, kung hindi man lahat, ng mga partylist na incumbent na magsara ng opisina at tumigil muna sa mga tulong pinansyal para sa lahat ng lumalapit para humingi ng tulong,” she said.

Aside from An Waray, other party-list groups that have have closed their offices are:

1.     Senior Citizens

2.     Ako Bicol

3.     Bagong Henerasyon

4.     A Teacher

5.     Citizens Battle Against Corruption

6.     Agham

7.     Youth Against Corruption and Poverty

8.     Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives

9.     1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy

10.   Association of Laborers and Employees

11.   Coop-NATCCO

12.   Butil

13.   Alagad

14.   Aangat Tayo

15.   Abante Mindanao

16.   UNA ang Pamilya