dynasties, rich and powerful continue to dominate party-list race
November 5, 2018
MANILA – Five years
after the Supreme Court opened the party-list system to nominees who
need not belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors
they claim to represent, more and more political dynasties and
vested interests have joined the party-list race. Their inclusion
has made it harder for party-list groups genuinely representing
marginalized sectors to gain seats in Congress. The party-list
system has been bastardized and corrupted, becoming an extension of
the political dynasties in many provinces and undermining its
original goal of providing representation to marginalized sectors
such as workers, farmers, women, youth and indigenous people’s among
Initial research conducted
by Kontra Daya shows that many of the 182 party-list groups in the
2019 elections may be classified as (1) those with links to
political dynasties or officials already elected in other positions;
(2) those representing special business interests; and (3) those
with questionable advocacy and nominees.
Among the party-list
groups that have links to political dynasties is Probinsyano Ako
whose first two nominees are related to Ilocos congressman and
former Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas. First nominee Rudy Ceasar is
Farinas son. Second nominee Lira Farinas is also related to the
congressman through Laoag City administrator Jami Farinas.
Tingog Sirangan has as its
first nominee Yedda Romualdez who is an incumbent Leyte first
district representative and part of the Romualdez dynasty in
Tacloban. The Abono party-list remains as the vehicle of the
Estrellas and Ortegas of Pangasinan and La Union. Its first nominee
is Conrado Estrella III and its second nominee is Vini Nola A.
Ortega who is also the wife of La Union governor Pacoy Ortega.
Ang Mata’y Alagaan’s first
nominee, Tricia Nicole Velasco, is the daughter of former SC Justice
Presbiterio Velasco and is part of the Velasco political clan in
Marinduque. Her brother is Lord Allan Jay Velasco is a Marinduque
congressman. Her mother Lorna Velasco was also a past nominee and
representative of the same party-list.
Ako An Bisaya is linked to
the Uy and Tuazon political clans of Samar and the Velosos of Leyte.
Its first nominee is Ramp Nielsen S. Uy, a former vice-governor of
Northern Samar. He ran and lost a congressional seat in 2013. Its
second nominee is Rodolfo T. Tuazon, Jr. Its third nominee is former
Leyte Congressman Eduardo Veloso, who was indicted by the Ombudsman
for graft in relation to the PDAF scam.
AAMBIS-OWA is linked to
the Garin and Biron political dynasties of Iloilo. Its first nominee
is Sharon Garin while its second nominee is former Iloilo
congressman Hernan Biron, Jr. Aangat Tayo’s nominee is Harlin Neil
J. Abayon III, related to the Abayon political clan of Northern
The 1 Alliance Advocating
Autonomy Party has the daughter of former speaker Bebot Alvarez, Ana
Emelita, as its first nominee. Adhikain Tinaguyod ng Kooperatiba has
Marjorie Ann Teodoro, wife of Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro as its
first nominee. Serbisyo sa Bayan party-list, linked to QC
congressman Sonny Belmonte, has end-termer Quezon City councilors
Ranulfo Zabala Ludovica and Vicente Eric De Guzman Belmonte Jr. as
their nominees. PBA Partylist is represented by Jericho Nograles of
the Nograles dynasty in Davao. Abe Kapampangan’s first nominee
meanwhile is Angeles Mayor Ed Pamintuan.
All in the family
Some current nominees are
the spouse or children who seek to replace the current nominees.
These group’s nominations have become a family affair. Agbiag
Partylist’s nominee Michaelina Antonio is the wife of former Agbiag
representative Patricio Antonio. Abante Mindanao’s nominee, Mary
Grace Rodriguez, is the wife of its former representative Maximo
Rodriguez. Ako Bicol’s second nominee is Justin Caesar Anthony D.
Batocabe, son of incumbent Ako Bicol representative Rodel Batocabe.
Some nominees already had
their stint as district representatives. Tingog Sirangan’s Yedda
Romualdez of Leyte, there is Inang Mahal’s first nominee, former
congresswoman Gina de Venecia, wife of former Speaker Jose de
Venecia of Pangasinan. LPGMA’s first nominee is former
representative Rodolfo B. Albano of Cagayan.
Some party-list seem to
represent big business interests. One curious group, the
Construction Worker’s Solidarity is represented by former DPWH
Undersecretary Romeo S. Momo, Sr. who is facing an investigation for
alleged anomalous road projects. Other nominees of his group belong
to the Gardiola family that owns several construction firms that
have been previously been implicated in questionable projects
according to reports by PCIJ. The party list that claims to
represent construction workers is actually a group representing
Another similar group,
Sandigan ng mga Manggagawa sa Konstruksyon has real estate developer
and contractor Enrique Olonan as its first nominee.
ACTS-OFW has two set of
nominees, with one set led by controversial congressman John Bertiz
who heads a manpower recruitment agency. Its third nominee,
Francisco Aguilar, is the president of another recruitment agency.
Anakalusugan has for its
second nominee former congressman and DENR secretary Mike Defensor.
Another example would be Ako Padayon Filipino whose nominees Adriano
Ebcas, Reynaldo Sindo, and Juancho Chong are high-ranking officials
of electric cooperatives in Camiguin, Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon.
A glaring example of how
the party-list system has been used by the rich and powerful is the
One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals, Inc. 1 PACMAN’s
first nominee Michael Romero, happens to be the richest member of
the House of Representatives with a reported net worth of P7
billion. His wealth does not come as a surprise since he is said to
be the chief executive officer (CEO) or chair of, among others, the
Harbor Centre Port Terminal, Mikro-tech Capital, Manila North Harbor
Port, Pacific Inc. and 168 Ferrum Mining. We believe that having
multi-billionaires as party-list representatives were not the
original intent of the party-list law as these billionaires can
easily seek congressional seats through the regular district
In the coming days, Kontra
Daya plans to release its initial comments on advocacies and
nominees of at least 182 party-list groups. We call on the Comelec
to do all it can to ensure whatever integrity is left in the
party-list system will not be further eroded by the entry of more
party-list groups and nominees that do not belong to nor truly
represent the interests of the marginalized and underrepresented. We
call on the people to be extra-vigilant with groups claiming to
represent the voiceless but in fact, are representing dynastic
interests. The SC ruling in Paglaum vs Comelec, which paved the way
for the bastardization and corruption of the party-list system, will
have to be reversed.