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MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday, May 22, proclaimed 51 party-list groups as winners in the May 13 polls.
Out of this number, at least 19 groups consider the 18th Congress as their first foray into the House of Representatives. But not all are completely strangers to government service nor to dealing with huge power.
Rappler found that many of the nominees who will fill in the seats allocated to the neophyte groups are either former elected government officials, a member of a political or influential clan, or linked to a powerful individual.
This information is based on the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) they submitted to the Commission on Elections.
Photo from the group's FB page
Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) topped the race and will be allotted 3 seats in the House of Representatives – the maximum allowable slots.
According to its Facebook page, ACT-CIS seeks to pass legislation that will ensure peace in the Philippines.
“Sa darating na Kongreso, may mga bagong kakampi na kayong maaasahan na magbabalangkas ng mga batas para sa kapayapaan at kaayusan ng ating bansa at maghahatid sa inyo ng tunay na serbisyo publiko,” it said.
(In the coming Congress, you will have new allies whom you can depend on who will legislate laws for peace and order in the Philippines, in addition to delivering good public service.)
Based on its submitted CONAs, the first 3 nominees of ACT-CIS are Eric Yap, Jocelyn Tulfo, and Rowena Niña Taduran. Tulfo is the wife of radio personality Raffy Tulfo and sister-in-law of former tourism secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo.
The Tulfos faced controversy after the Commission on Audit previously questioned the P60 million paid by the Department of Tourism for ad placements on Kilos Pronto, the show co-hosted by the Tulfo brothers, citing the lack of supporting documents.
Photo from Ang Probinsyano Facebook Page
Ang Probinsyano, according to its Facebook page, aims to give a better life to Filipinos living in the provinces, especially the poorest communities.
“Nais naming maging tagapagtanggol at tagapagligtas ng karaniwang tao, ng mga inaapi, at nakakalimutan,” Ang Probinsyano said. “Ang aming pangarap ay isang bansa kung saan walang mamamayang naiiwan sa kaunlaran, lalo na ang mga taga-kanayunan.”
(We want to be the defender and savior of the common people, of the oppressed, and the forgotten. We dream of a country where no citizen is left behind, especially in the provinces.)
The group is assured of two seats in Congress which will go, based on CONAs submitted, to Alfred delos Santos and Ronnie Ong.
The high number of votes garnered by Ang Probinsyano is no suprise as it banked on the popularity of a television action series of the same name starring Coco Martin – who also endorsed the group, together with actress Yassi Pressman. (READ: Ang Probinsyano heading to Congress: Where did its votes come from?)
News reports state that it plans to set up an "agri-tech extension program" to help farmers push for an "open high school" concept for students, and also promote Philippine history and culture.
Photo from Marino Facebook Page
Samahan ng mga Seaman Inc (Marino) wants to implement programs to benefit Filipino seafarers, including forming a comprehensive National Maritime Development Policy and ensuring proper basic social services.
It also vows to “support and sustain the development program and accomplishment of President Duterte towards a modern and vibrant maritime industry and a globally competitive Filipino seafarer for a more progressive, developed and secure Philippines.”
The nominees of Marino are all from Davao, according to their CONA. Its two seats will go to Carlo Lisandro Gonzales and Jose Antonio Lopez, both from Davao City.
Marino was endorsed both by the President and Davao City mayor Sara Duterte, according to its Facebook page.
Probinsyano Ako refers to itself as the voice of the Ilocano community in Congress.
The group’s creation stemmed from “the plight of a probinsyano,” according to its Facebook page. It also aims to promote “noble endeavors for the upliftment of the general welfare of the probinsyano with an attached sense of pride.”
It won two seats in Congress and based on its CONAs, these slots will go to members of the influential Fariñas clan of Ilocos Norte.
The group’s first nominee is Rudys Caesar G. Fariñas I, son of former House majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas, while Lira Fariñas is the daughtet-in-law of the late Laoag vice mayor Michael Fariñas and incumbent mayor Chevylle Fariñas.
Philreca is an umbrella organization of electronic cooperatives (ECs) across the Philippines. It currently has a roster of 121 ECs, according to its website.
Established in 1979, Philreca fashions itself as “the watchdog of the implementors of the rural electrification program and the consumer-members they serve.” It aims to help safeguard the concerns and interest of its member-cooperatives as part of the House of Representatives.
“The program of rural electrification would always be confronted by an endless stream of challenges and threats,” Philreca said on Facebook.
Its sole seat in the House of Representatives will go to Presley de Jesus, a businessman based in Isabela.
Photo from Sonny Lagon's FB page
Established in 2011, Ako Bisaya seeks to use the power of legislation to improve the lives of the urban poor.
According to a SunStar Cebu report, the group wants to prioritize proper housing for the urban poor once it wins a seat in Congress.
The group’s first nominee, Capiz-based businessman and engineer Sonny Lagon, said that it is counterproductive for many to uproot the poor communities and give them housing in faraway towns.
“The government has a hard time taking our urban poor away from the esteros because the proposed relocation sites are too far from their places of work. This is why you will never see them leave,” he said in the report.
Ako Bisaya was endorsed by many politicians and celebrities, including President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler
Tingog Sinirangan “seeks to bring forth pagbag-o (change), paglaum (hope), and pag-uswag (progress)” in Eastern Visayas, according to its Facebook page.
In January 2019, a Journal report quoted its president Glenn Capucion as saying that the group’s core advocacies include pushing to “establish, promote, foster and preserve the political, legal, social and economic foundations of a truly just, free and democratic Filipino society through a three-point approach: transformational politics, shared governance, and development of the peripheries.”
Its one seat will go to incumbent Leyte 1st District Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez, a member of the influential Romualdez clan.
Her husband is former representative Martin Romualdez, who lost his Senate bid in 2016. He will be taking over Yedda’s seat as 1st district representative in the coming Congress.
In a statement following her filing of candidacy, Yedda said she hopes to “give one strong voice to the people in the region and champion the cause of authentic regional development.”
Photo courtesy of Duterte Youth
Duterte Youth is the controversial party-list group that has been very vocal about its support for the President, to the extent of attacking other progressive groups critical of the administration.
The group is given one seat in Congress but who will fill it is yet to be determined. The 5 people who previously filed their CONAs in 2018 withdrew and former National Youth Commission Chairperson Ronald Cardema allegedly filed for substitution a day before the May 13 elections.
Groups have criticized this move, saying that the 33-year-old Cardema is too old to represent the youth sector. They also said that Cardema's filing cannot be accepted as it was filed on a Sunday, past office hours at 5 pm. (READ: Groups ask Comelec to junk Duterte Youth Cardema's substitution bid)
The Comelec’s resolution on this matter, however, will also only tackle the timing of Cardema’s filing, according to Commissioner Rowena Guanzon. The Comelec en banc has yet to release a decision on his substitution bid. (READ: Duterte Youth's Cardema already proclaims himself congressman on Facebook)
Photo from group Facebook page
Rural Electronic Consumers and Beneficiaries of Development and Advancement, Inc (Recoboda) is another group that seeks to represent electronic cooperatives (ECs) in Congress.
According to its Facebook page, Recoboda wants to be the formal representative and voice of member-consumer-owners (MCOs) in discussions on legislation involving the energy industry, including those related to energy prices and electric cooperatives.
Its sole seat in the upcoming Congress will go to Maguindanao-based farmer, Akmad Mamalinta, according to the group’s CONA.
Photo from Buhay Facebook Group
Bahay Para sa Pamilyang Pilipino (Bahay) wants to help Filipinos “acquire necessary information and capacity to own their own homes.”
In Congress, the group wants to push for socialized housing and livelihood programs, most especially for members of urban poor communities.
“As a partylist, Bahay seeks to represent the rights and the welfare of Filipinos, especially the homeless and underprivileged citizens,” the group said in its Facebook page.
It will have one seat in Congress. Its first nominee is lawyer Naealla Bainto-Aguinaldo of Taal, Batangas.
Photo from CWS Facebook Page
Construction Workers' Solidarity
Construction Workers’ Solidarity is reportedly an organization of groups working in the construction sector in the Philippines. It aims to “help the construction workers help themselves” by pushing for the promotion of stable and secure employment, improve working conditions, and enhance workers’ skills, according to its Facebook page.
CWS also wants to “provide the government and the construction industry skilled and effective workers that would help provide the best quality of work for the good of the public."
The group was endorsed by actor Alden Richards.
CWS first nominee is Romeo Momo, a former undersecretary at the Department of Public Works and Highways.
In 2014, he was one of the government officials slapped with criminal and administrative charges over the alleged overpriced Iloilo Convention Center. Momo was also previously impliciated in an alleged anomalous road rehabilitation project in Masbate in 2014.
He was also one of the DPWH officials who drew criticism after posting an alleged Photoshop photo of themselves inspecting the damage caused by Typhoon Pedring in 2011.
Photo from BHW Facebook Page
Barangay Health Wellness
Barangay Health Wellness (BHW) wants to address the problems faced by health workers working in barangays by pushing for regular compensation and other benefits.
“Nakaka-alarma ang malalang sitwasyon ng mga BHW sa bansa, karamihan sa kanila ay tinuturing ‘job of passion’ ang boluntaryong pagtulong sa mga barangay, ngunit wala silang natatanggap na maayos na balik sa kanilang serbisyo,” the group said in its Facebook page.
(The situation of BHWs in the Philippines is alarming and many of them treat their work as "job of passion" because they are volunteers but they do not get anything in return.)
Its first nominee is Angelica Co who is an interior designer, according to her CONA filed in Comelec.
Galing sa Puso Party
The platform of Galing sa Puso (GP) is all over the place. According to its Facebook page, it wants to promote programs for livelihood, justice, health, knowledge, and environment.
Its first nominee is outgoing Nueva Ecija Vice Governor Jose Padiernos.
Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM)
Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM) wants to fight “for what is true, for what is just, for what is right” in the Philippines.
According to its website, the present RAM is an offshoot of the group consisting of junior military officers who dissented against corruption and cronyism in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
It now seeks to promote the “idealism and nationalism of Philippine heroes and martyrs in their fight for independence.”
RAM’s one slot will be filled by Aloysia Lim, its first nominee based on the CONA submittted to Comelec. She is the wife of Metro Manila Development Authority chairperson Danilo Lim who is also the chairperson of RAM.
Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler
Anakalusugan wants to use its space in Congress to push for health-focused legislation that will benefit all Filipinos and address the problems the health sector is facing.
Its platform includes removing additional taxes for vitamins and other medicines, improving health insurance premiums, and ensuring regular and just allowances for barangay health workers (BHWs).
It also wants to push for 5% of the Internal Revenue Allotment of local governments for health and nutrition services.
Anakalusugan’s first nominee is Adorlito Ginete, a lawyer and former mayor of Sta Teresita, Batangas.
Ako Padayon is another group that seeks to promote the interest of member-consumer-owners of electric cooperatives across the Philippines.
It wants to enact laws in Congress that will push for improvements in the energy industry, particularly in rural areas.
Its first nominee is Adriano Ebcas from Camiguin. He is currently the general manager of the Camiguin Electric Cooperative Inc.
Photo from Bautista Facebook Page
Dumper Philippines Taxi Drivers Association, Inc (Dumper-PTDA)
Dumpter-PTDA aims to represent workers in the transportation sector in Congress. It wants to push for better benefits for taxi drivers across the Philippines covering hospitalization and livelihood programs.
“Pagbabago, pag-unlad, pagkakaisa ng drayber at pasahero tungo sa maunlad na Pilipinas,” are its objectives, according to its Facebook page. (Change, improvement, unity of drivers and passengers towards a better Philippines.)
Its first nominee is businesswoman Claudine Bautista from Davao Occidental. She is the daughter of Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista.
The group was endorsed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Talino at Galing ng Pinoy
Talino at Galing ng Pinoy wants to give better opportunities to members of the poorest communities, according to its Facebook page. It wants to create programs that will address health problems and livelihood issues, among others, of the poor.
“Naniniwala ang TGP na ang edukasyon ay isa sa mabisang lunas sa paghihirap ng mga Pilipino at ang pagkakaroon ng pantay na karapatan dito, ay magbubunga ng isang progresibong lipunan,” he said.
(TGP believes that education is the best solution against poverty in the Philippines and fair treatment results in a progressive society.)
Its first nominee is former Catanduanes vice governor Jose Teves Jr.
Public Safety Alliance for Transformation and Rule of Law, Inc (Patrol) aims to push for bills that will help ensure public safety in the Philippines
Founded in 2015, the group said that it wants to transform communities “into peaceful, safe and progressive havens through the vibrant partnership among stakeholders supported by a revitalized public safety system.”
Its first nominee is retired policeman Jorge Bustos of Masantol, Pampanga. He was quoted in a SunStar Pampanga report as saying that he wants to give Filipinos a “secure community to live in day and night.” – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.