20 October 2018
Labor group tells Comelec Commissioner to stand firm vs. ‘political bullies’
Commission on Elections commissioner Rowena Guanzon gained the support of a militant labor group and urged her to “stand firm against politicians and incumbent partylist groups in pushing for the dire reforms needed to make our electoral processes more inclusive”.
Speaking before the launching of “Eleksyon 2019,” Guanzon said she supported moves to amend Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-list System Act since the anti-political dynasty constitutional provision lacks an enabling law to deter members of political clans to use the partylist elections as a backdoor for their ambitions.
Several incumbent officials came out with statements castigating Guanzon and reminded her to abide by the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that allows established political parties and non-marginalized groups to participate in the partylist elections
“Incumbent officials are doing everything in their power to stifle the electoral process by discriminating against the marginalized sectors who seek societal change via the elections. Waged and salaried workers account for almost 43 million of our population and yet we are the least represented in Congress,” lamented Luke Espiritu, president of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP).
The group welcomed the statements of Commissioner Guanzon and says it is refreshing to know she seeks that our elections return to the spirit to why the partylist system was infused in our electoral process in the first place.
Espiritu asserts that, “this is precisely the reason why we seek change by vying for a seat in Congress because discrimination and injustice has been molded and structured in our laws, making it impossible for democracy to work”.
Despite the 2013 SC decision, the group admits that it will take a Herculean effort on their part to come out triumphant in the 2019 elections.
Another obstacle to the inclusivity of the electoral process BMP claims, is the Senate bill 911 (SB 911) of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian that proposes to penalize those the COMELEC may deem as nuisance candidates.
SB 911 did not gain the support of the poll commissioner and called it discriminatory.
He adds, “Gatchalian’s bill is elitist to say the least. There should be no monopoly in public service. The barring of candidates from marginalized sections and even branding them as nuisance practically makes elections an exclusive exercise of the rich and famous”.
“Penalizing poor candidates will further breed marginalization and social injustice. SB 911 is not only a mockery of the elections but a mockery of democracy as well”, the labor leader reasoned.
The group advised Senator Gatchalian that if he genuinely seeks to reinforce the sanctity of our electoral processes, he must enact a bill that will prohibit candidacies of those with major offenses against the people.
“Plunderers, human rights violators, protectors of criminal syndicates, those who tolerate impunity and the like are the ones that should be prohibited from running. They are the ones who mock the entire legal system even if their day jobs are legislators,” he suggested.
BMP banded with groups Teachers Dignity Coalition, womens group Oriang, Sanlakas and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod to form Partido Lakas ng Masa Coalition which seeks a Senate seat as well as representation in House of Representatives through the partylist elections.###