Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Comelec: Over 250 party-list groups seek accreditation for 2010 polls

More than 250 party-list groups have applied for accreditation to participate in the 2010 elections, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said Tuesday.

Comelec law department director Ferdinand Rafanan said that 106 party-list groups filed their petitions for registration last Monday, bringing to 252 the total number of civic groups seeking accreditation for the 2010 polls.

"Sobrang dami nila na nag-last minute filing (A lot of groups filed at the last minute)," Rafanan told dzBB radio in an interview.

The Comelec set August 17 as the deadline for the "filing of petitions for registration of political parties…, organizations and coalitions under the party-list system of representation."

Rafanan, however, did not mention how many political parties have filed their petitions.

In a phone interview with GMANews.TV, Rossie Palacio of the poll body’s Office of the Clerk of the Commission said they are still finalizing the tally of the political parties and party-list groups that have submitted their petitions.

First step

Lodging a petition is a party-list group’s first step in getting accredited, Rafanan said.

“Mayroong preliminary screening, pagkatapos tayo ay magsa-submit ng recommendation sa Commission (all Comelec commissioners) en banc, ihi-hearing nila ‘yon (After a preliminary screening, we would submit a recommendation to the Commission en banc, who would hear the petitions)," Rafanan said.

During the hearing, the Comelec commissioners would verify whether the applicant group exists, whether it has complied with all requirements, and whether it represents "marginalized and underrepresented sectors."

Republic Act No. 7941, also known as Party-List System Act, lists the following qualifications for a group to be considered marginalized, or belonging to the underrepresented sectors: "labor, peasant, fisher folk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals."

The hearings would help the commissioners decide whether a party-list group is eligible for accreditation.

Results by October

Rafanan said that while the whole process might be tedious, the Comelec is targeting the release of the results of the hearing "by October," and that the Comelec would try to hear 10 petitions a day to meet the deadline.

Among the 252 party-list groups that filed for accreditation are the Alyansa ng Sabungero, Aabot, All Rainbow Party, Alab ng Lahi, Partido Lakas ng Masa, Citizen Call for Action, One Nation Empowered with Technology, Liwanag sa Bilangguan, OFWs, Alagaan Natin Ating Kalusugan, Grand Bohol, Balikatan and Ang Ladlad. [See: Cockfighting aficionados eye congressional seat] - GMANews.TV

Senate panel defers dismissal of Jarvinia case vs Villar

A Senate panel on Tuesday deferred its action on the dismissal of the ethics complaint filed against Senator Manny Villar Jr. in connection with his alleged land-grabbing case in Bulacan province.

The decision was made after senators noted the similarities of the evidence in the so-called Jarvinia case with those presented during last week’s hearing of the committee on the whole on a separate ethics complaint against Villar.

Senators Panfilo Lacson, ethics committee chairman, Manuel Roxas II, Gregorio Honasan II and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri agreed to “temporarily hold in abeyance the decision on the complaint until we can firmly ascertain its connection with the evidence presented on Thursday."

Roxas said the case could be connected with the subject of the ethics complaint filed by Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo “Jamby" Madrigal that was tackled by the committee of the whole last Thursday.

In the complaint, which was also filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, private citizen Gina Jarvinia accused Villar and his wife, Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar, of land-grabbing in Norzagaray, Bulacan.

Lack of quorum

Laywer Jhomuel Mendoza, committee general counsel, recommended the dismissal of the Jarvinia complaint three months ago but the panel was not able to act on it due to lack of quorum.

Mendoza said he recommended the dismissal of the compliant since based on documents, Villar’s alleged acts were committed before he became a senator.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said after Thursday's hearing that acts committed by a senator before he or she assumes his or her post are beyond the jurisdiction of the Senate.

The ethics committee's legal counsel will submit next week a matrix on the similarities of Jarvina's complaint with that of Madrigal's.

'Simple politicking'

Villar, for his part, accused the panel of politicking in deferring the dismissal of the Jarvinia case.

"I see no other reason why fellow presidentiables seem to be employing foot-dragging tactics in the dismissal of the Jarvinia case but plain and simple politicking," Villar said in a text message to reporters.

He noted that the case had been junked by the Ombudsman in 2008, and that several senators had already expressed their intention to dismiss the case as early as May 2009.

"The move to defer action on the recommendation to dismiss (the case) is nothing but another desperate attempt by my political rivals to malign my reputation," said Villar, who is being groomed to run for president in next year's national elections.

Liban vs Gordon

The committee on the other hand approved the junking of the complaint filed against Senator Richard Gordon by former Quezon City Representative Dante Liban as the Supreme Court had already issued its decision on the matter.

Liban had accused Gordon of holding two positions in the government, being a lawmaker and a chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross.- GMANews.TV

Palace defends govt ‘infomercials’

A Malacañang official on Tuesday defended Cabinet members who have infomercials on television and radio, saying these is part of their mandate to inform the public about the programs of their departments.

“As far as I'm concerned, what the Cabinet members are doing is just within their mandate to be able to disseminate information pertaining to their departments," said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita in an ambush interview.

Ermita made the statement three days after the Manila Regional Trial Court issued a temporary restraining order against the airing of the infomercials.

The issuance of the TRO was based on a petition filed by lawyer Ernesto Franciso Jr.

Ermita said government lawyers would address the cases against the Cabinet members.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who was one of those affected by the issuance of the TRO last Friday, expressed regret that his constitutional duty to inform the public has been stifled.

Duque is one of several Cabinet members being eyed by the administration to run for senator in the 2010 national elections.

But in radio interview earlier in the day, he said he is not inclined to “waste his time" if the surveys show that he has little chance of winning.

“Tingnan natin ang survey. Kung kulelat tayo sa survey huwag natin pagsayangin ng panahon (I’ll look at the surveys. If I fare poorly, I’d rather not waste my time)," Duque told dzXL radio. - GMANews.TV

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Legarda sets eyes for presidency, not VP

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Loren Legarda rejected suggestions on Wednesday that she run again for vice president in 2010 and stated that she could serve the people effectively if she were the “captain of the ship.”

She was reacting to reports that the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the party led by billionaire businessman Eduardo Cojuangco, was considering a team-up of Senators Francis Escudero and Legarda for the 2010 presidential elections.

But when asked if she would consider running for vice president again, Legarda said, “It’s highly unlikely because ... been there, done that.”

“I want to serve our people and that can only be done if I am the captain of the ship,” she said in an interview.

Legarda talked of her “passion and compassion for good management and governance.”

“It is this passion and compassion that will eventually drive me to run for the highest post if and when I so decide and I so declare. And I will make such decision at the proper time,” she said.

She said she would “continue the fight” started by the late opposition standard bearer, movie star Fernando Poe Jr.

Legarda was handpicked by Poe as his running mate in 2004, but they lost to the team of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli de Castro.

“If and when I declare to run for President,” it would be based “on a vision and platform of good governance,” she said.

“I will not just be a whim—because I want to run—and timing. It will be based on a platform and vision for our country. A vision of good governance, sustainable development, transparency and accountability to the people,” she said.

During the NPC Christmas party that Cojuangco hosted on Monday at the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club, the talk was of an Escudero-Legarda or Legarda-Escudero ticket in 2010.

According to Legarda, the “informal agreement” was for Cojuangco to anoint the topnotcher in the presidential surveys as the party standard-bearer.

“Of course, [Cojuangco] will endorse the one who’s winnable,” she said.

Legarda and Escudero are both members of NPC which also counts 28 congressmen and hundreds of local officials from governors down to mayors in its roster.

Legarda did not rule out the NPC coalescing with other parties. “The party is strong in itself but coalitions are usually entered into during elections.”

As for Senator Manuel Villar and Vice President Noli de Castro, the two other known presidential aspirants that have been consistently topping the surveys, she said: “I can take on anyone. In the end I only compete with myself, not with other people.” inquirer.net

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Palace slams Roxas for ‘stooping so low’ with crude language

MANILA, Philippines - Malacaňang on Saturday denounced Sen. Manuel Roxas II for uttering invectives in public during the interfaith rally in Makati on Friday against Charter change (Chacha).

Leaders of different sectors who joined the rally were allowed to talk on stage for three minutes and Roxas used his time to admonish the Arroyo administration, which he said wanted to cling on to power beyond 2010 by amending the Constitution.

In a statement, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza on Saturday accused the presidential wannabe for "stooping so low."

In his speech, the Liberal Party president said: "Ngayon gusto ni (President) Gloria (Macapagal Arroyo) na baluktutin ang ating Saligang Batas para manatili sa poder … p____ ina, ano na 'to!," Roxas shouted in front of the crowd, something which he apologized for later.

"We are saddened that he stooped so low in his tirades," Dureza said, adding that the incident will definitely not help Roxas’ impending presidential bid.

"We don't think his crass language will help in his desperate drive to catch up with the popularity ratings of other leading presidentiables," Dureza added.

Among the so-called "presidentiables" present in the rally were Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, president of the United Opposition; former Senate President Manny Villar, president of the Nacionalist Party; Sens Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda, both members of Nationalist Peoples Coalition; Panfilo Lacson, and Roxas.

Of those "presidentiables," only Villar begged off to go on stage to deliver his piece on the Chacha issue. gmanews.tv

Palace to bare administration slate for 2010

MANILA, Philippines — To allay persistent fears that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo intends to stay in power beyond 2010, Malacañang will announce soon its bets for the 2010 elections, a Palace executive said Saturday.

But Presidential Management Staff (PMS) head Cerge Remonde refused to elaborate, saying it is up to presidential political affairs adviser Gabriel Claudio to make the announcement.

"Abangan nyo yan, meron siguro tayong balita diyan lalabas sa susunod na araw galing kay Sec. Gabby Claudio (Just wait for it. Claudio will make the proper announcements)," Remonde said on government-run dzRB radio.

When asked if Claudio will make the announcement before Christmas Day, he said, "kay Sec. Claudio ang timing (I leave the timing to Claudio)."

Remonde also would not say if the slate includes bets for president and senators. Malacañang earlier hinted it is grooming Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. as standard bearer.

The Palace is also eyeing Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Bayani Fernando as a possible presidential bet.

But Remonde hinted there will be Cabinet members in the lineup.

"I am sure there are so many outstanding members of the Cabinet who are qualified," he said when asked if there will be Cabinet members in the administration slate.

When asked if there will be a Cabinet reshuffle or a revamp once the slate is announced, he said, "’pag may vacancy I am sure papalitan ‘yan ngequally capable Cabinet members (if there are vacancies I am sure they will be replaced with equally capable Cabinet members)." gmanews.tv

Friday, December 12, 2008

Makati rally a virtual political sortie for 2010 ‘presidentiables’

MANILA, Philippines - The massive anti-Charter change rally in Makati City on Friday appeared to be an early campaign sortie for "presidentiables" in the upcoming 2010 elections, a radio report said.

In a report, dzBB's Nimfa Ravelo said potential presidential aspirants Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, Sen. Loren Legarda and Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero were present at the rally.

Former President Joseph Estrada - who had earlier said he might make another presidential run in 2010 - was also briefly present in the rally but had to cut his participation to attend to his ailing mother.

Organizers earlier said they will allow key political figures - presidentiables included - to have a three-minute speaking time during the rally program which is expected to extend up to 9 p.m.

In the rally, supporters of Binay - who, in November announced that he will be running for president in 2010 - were stationed close to the stage, some on them were even carrying banners saying, "Binay for President!"

Meanwhile, Legarda's supporters, mostly women, were identified with their uniform white shirts bearing Legarda's name.

Escudero, who is regarded as another possible presidential candidate, was not able to escape fanfare as several women fans flocked to him and planted kisses on his cheek and took pictures with him.

"Nakakatuwang makita na magkakalaban man sila sa darating na eleksyon, sama- sama sila para tutulan ang Cha-cha... iba-iba man ang kanilang partido, ang kanilang paniniwala... nagkakaisa sila laban sa Cha-cha," the report quoted Escudero as saying.

Escudero also expressed confidence that moves in the congress pushing for Charter change will not prosper without the Senate's nod.

"Liwanagin ng Kamara ang kanilang posisyon. Gusto ba talaga nilang balewalain ang Senado o hindi? Kaya ba nilang makapasa ng bill na hindi kasama ang Senado? Hindi nila kayang gawin yun (The Lower House should state their position. Do they really want to ignore the Senate or not? Do they think they could pass a bill without the Senate's approval? They can not do that)," Escudero said. gmanews.tv