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Mar 05

The Long View: Prove it’s a lie

THE LONG VIEW
Prove it’s a lie

By Manuel L. Quezon III
Inquirer
First Posted 00:02am (Mla time) 03/05/2007

MANILA, Philippines-THE PARTY-LIST SYSTEM ACT GIVES COMELEC the power to refuse or cancel the registration of a particular group seeking a seat in the House of Representatives, on eight grounds: (1) it is a religious group or sect; (2) it advocates violence or unlawful means to seek its goal; (3) it is a foreign party; (4) it receives direct or indirect support from a foreign government, political party, or foundation; (5) it violates election-related laws; (6) it declares untruthful statements in its petition; (7) it has ceased to exist for at least one year; and (8) it has failed to obtain at least 2 percent of the votes cast under the partly-list system in the two preceding elections.

A total of 122 party-list groups participated in the 1998 elections, 162 in the 2001 elections, 58 in the 2004 elections. This year, the Comelec recognized 44 party-list groups. Ang Ladlad, which seeks to be the party list for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) individuals, was refused accreditation. The Comelec Second Division decided that the petition for registration and accreditation of Ang Ladlad Party should be “denied for lack of merit.” The reason? The commissioners believe Ang Ladlad lied.

The resolution dated Feb. 27, 2007, signed by Presiding Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason Jr. and Commissioners Rene V. Sarmiento and Nicodemo T. Ferrer, said Ang Ladlad gave untruthful statements in the petition it submitted to the commission on Sept. 15, 2006. The commissioners said: “Contrary to petitioner’s allegation in its petition that its membership is national in scope, reports from our field offices reveal that it doesn’t exist in most regions of the country.”

Are Ang Ladlad and the Comelec arguing apples and oranges? That is, does Ang Ladlad believe it not only has a national constituency, but supporters nationwide, a belief that the Comelec says it has proven false, by means of “reports” from its field offices?

If the Comelec believes Ang Ladlad is a figment of its organizers’ imagination; that it is delusional; and that it cannot claim a national constituency on the level, perhaps, of the legions of supporters of such outstanding public servants as Eulogio R. Magsaysay of the Alliance of Volunteer Educators or Rodante Marcoleta of Alagad; or demonstrate to the Comelec’s satisfaction a national machinery on the level of organizations such as The True Marcos Loyalist (for God, Country and People), then by all means the public should do its bit to prove the Comelec wrong.

It’s a good time to do this. Ang Ladlad will be appealing the Comelec decision. Since Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said “the question of constituency is very important especially if you declare your party or organization as a national party with national membership,” then the urgent task is to prove that that constituency exists, and that the constituency is prepared to stand up for itself on a nationwide basis.

So write or call the Comelec officials to tell them you support Ang Ladlad, that you want to vote for it, that you intend to back it and that you want it to receive accreditation. Either the Comelec or Ang Ladlad was lying – and the way to prove who’s lying is not to take the Comelec’s slander lying down.

Call Commissioner Florentino Tuason at 527-3225. Also, call the Comelec hotline numbers at 525-9295, 525-9294, 525-9302, 525-9334, 525-9335 and 525-9345.

If you’re outside Metro Manila, call your regional Comelec office. National Capital Region: 527-9624 or 527-0846; Cordillera Administrative Region: (074) 304-2444, Region 1 (072) 888-3145, Region 3: (045) 961-5015, Region 4: (02) 527-0835

Region 5: (052) 245-5147, (052) 480-4812, (052) 245-5807, Region 6: (033) 337-4124, (033) 338-1450, Region 7: (032) 416-9773, (032) 416-9774, Region 8: (053) 321-2045, Region 9: (062) 992-0519, (062) 991-2653, Region 10: (088) 350-3512, (088) 858-6269, Region 11: (082) 297-7221, (082) 297-3847, Region 12: (064) 390-2469, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: (062) 991-4011, Caraga: (088) 342-4976. Or if you’re overseas, call your nearest embassy or consulate.

Fax a note to the Comelec at 525-9301. Writechairman@comelec.gov.ph or comm_tuason@comelec.gov.ph, or to Commissioners Tuason, Sarmiento, and Ferrer at this address: 8/F Palacio del Gobernador, Commission on Elections, Gen. Luna St., Intramuros, Manila 1002

Leave a comment online in the Comelec’s blogs: “inside the Comelec” (http://comelec. wordpress.com), “james jimenez” (http:// htt://jimenez.wordpress.com), and “Overseas Absentee Internet Voting” (http://oaiv.wordpress.com)

If you believe Ang Ladlad should be accredited as a party list, you have this week to express support and add your voice to those questioning the decision of the Comelec Second Division. One call. One fax. One e-mail.

To his credit, Sen. Ralph Recto said: “[T]he Comelec may have its reasons in denying the accreditation of this party list, but what can’t be denied is that it clearly passes the marginalization criterion, which is the litmus test in party-list accreditation.”

Our national policy is clear: “The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties of organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives.” Ang Ladlad deserves that opportunity.

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