November 2, 2012
“An Waray misleads the people for claiming it represents the ‘youth, fisher folks, urban poor, women, labor and farmers’ when in fact it has not even authored essential bills to uplift their sorry condition”, says Jun Berino, Secretary General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Eastern Visayas.
Since 2004 when An Waray secured a seat in Congress from garnering 2.11% of total party list votes, Berino confirmed that it filed ‘not a single bill’ in the 13th Congress while in succeeding Congresses, a total of only 6 House Bills were filed so far by Florencio ‘Bem’ Noel and 2nd rep Neil Benedict Montejo. According to Berino, these bills have “no essential correlation to uplift the condition of any sector” which Montejo enumerated before the Commission on Elections, as quoted in a local newspaper.
More or less 50 newcomer and incumbent party list groups have been axed, so far, from the list of approved party list groups. Three-termer An Waray rep Noel was quick to respond that theirs is not a regional party list group like the disqualified Ako Bicol. He insists it is a ‘multi-sectoral party list organization’ with national scope and represents those who have ‘nothing or less in life’ or ‘ang mga wala’.
Moreover, An Waray’s website says it has since represented the marginalized and underrepresented. Their website qualifies that ‘good representation’ in the context of the Party List System is based on self-imposed terms such as a) gain(ing) greater access to the manner of disbursing public funds, b) directly paricipat(ing) in the creation of legislative policy and c) publicly air(ing) out and be(ing) the voice of the poor and marginalized sectors in most of the national and political issues.
Berino said, however, that instead of forwarding essential legislation in Congress, An Waray indulged itself mainly in well-advertised disbursement of Priority Development Assistance Funds or Pork Barrel. Berino exposed that most of its PDAF-related projects are “conditionally given to favored people to yield political support especially in its 2011 and 2012 PDAF releases to beef up the candidacy of Noel for City Mayor of Tacloban.” Noel filed his Certificate of Candidacy last October 2, 2012. In 2011, over 20,000,000.00 million pesos was allocated for said City alone and most of which amount to a million peso per barangay.
“The Party List System’s main orientation has been desecrated to the level of traditional politicking,” adds Berino. In the same light, Berino also said that An Waray is, in fact, an original creation of well-connected politicians and families from Eastern Visayas. One of its original nominee Darryl Grace Abayon, who eventually became a rep for the disqualified party list group Aangat Tayo, is the husband of former Mayor, Governor and Congressman in Northern Samar. Affluent personalities who could participate in regular elections also made its entry to politics through An Waray. Its first nominee and Congressman Montejo comes from an affluent family and owns hotels in Tacloban City while 3rd nominee Victoria Isabel Noel is Congressman Noel’s family member. Patrick Aguilos, its 5th nominee, is a Liberal Party councilor-aspirant who ran but lost in the 2010 local elections.
“An Waray has practically become a perfect example of fusing into the Party List system the very mainstream-oriented and traditional politics it seeks to provide alternative. Beyond the brand of a ‘Party List organization’, An Waray, in essence, merely indulged the people to get contented from token assistance and traditional ‘State benevolence’. Its legislation thrusts has nothing essential to do in empowering the peasants and workers,” says Berino. The Supreme Court, in the 2001 case of Bayan Muna vs. Comelec, says ‘why segregate 20% of the seats in Congress to the party-list system if we will allow the 80% to join its elections anyway?’
BAYAN-EV mentioned that a bill pertaining to ‘coconut industry development’ has semblance to support coconut farmers but is actually skewed in favor of corporate entities and aggressive coconut exportation without dependable measures to support the basic issues of coconut farmers. In 2010 alone, there are reports that An Waray even engaged in vote buying. BAYAN-EV adds that silence and non-opposition to privatization of the energy industry in Leyte, widespread large-scale mining and landlessness of peasants in the region fails to satisfy self-imposed qualifier at least along ‘publicly airing out concerns of the poor and marginalized sectors’.
“An Waray has gone ineffective in justifying its Party List status but has become more of a staunch operator of traditional politics. As such, it must be totally rejected from participating henceforth in the Party List elections,” ends Berino.
JUN BERINO, SECRETARY GENERAL
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Eastern Visayas