Do Not Obscure the Essence of the Party List System: A Rejoinder to ‘Livewire’ Anchor Mr. Mark Morallos’ Rash Commentaries and Red tagging of Progressive Groups in Eastern Visayas

October 31, 2012

Dear Mr. Morallos,

Sir,

Foremost, thanks for taking cognizance of our statements and comments regarding An Waray Party List over the radio and in the social networking site Facebook. We hope you have read first all the essential points there before you commented over the radio last Monday night in your radio program Live Wire. Likewise, we have also listened to your commentaries and noticed the thread of your remarks in Facebookas well. Hence, we respond to you with this letter.

Once again, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN formation in Eastern Visayas reaffirms our position to disqualify An Waray. In the context of advancing the people’s agenda for genuine social transformation and representation, we strongly believe that the perpetuation of bogus and/or well-connected Party Lists in Congress would only marginalize further the powerless, poor and voiceless. We believe that the Party List space is not given to the ‘abled’ and ‘moneyed’ that could compete in regular elections provided their resources.

For clarification, BAYAN (not Bayan Muna) is not a political party list but a political organization that also participates in the electoral struggle. Our alliance is an umbrella organ of the real marginalized sectors – from peasants, workers, urban poor, women, youth & students, small professionals, among others – who are deprived by the status quo of their full civil, political and socio-economic rights including representation. You can even see it for yourself because aside from the fact that we work for their welfare without expecting pay in return, you could also see the validity of our actions and campaigns that they truly serve the interest of the voiceless and oppressed majority.

Moreover, BAYAN’s principal effort is to educate, organize and mobilize its ranks and empower all allied sectors to secure through various forms of struggles their rights and welfare. This includes, but not limited to, the electoral system.

To respond to your unfair and premature insinuations over your radio program against our organizations and the progressive bloc in general, please be clarified that we are not being ‘manipulated’ by certain politicians as you and your fellow An Waray supporters alleged in your block time programs. We protest your accusation that we act at someone’s behest because we are ‘paid’. Mr. Morallos, had we asked payment from you before to support the struggle against union busting of the Bombo Radyo management? You have witnessed yourself that we are not the kind of people you allege.

Your tirades against us in defense of An Waray did not even bother to justify amply why it ‘must be spared and not be disqualified’ but you responded to the issue by accusing instead our alliance of being paid agents by your political camp’s opponent. You also accused us of spinning mere ‘black propaganda’ against An Waray’s Noel. In our statements, we do not even criticize Rep. Florencio Gabriel ‘Bem’ Noel because he is running for Mayor of Tacloban City. Let he be judged on the merits of his platform as he runs for Mayor of the City not necessarily because he is himself ‘An Waray’. The row between Noel and incumbent City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is yet another issue.

Our call is firm to reject Party List organizations undermining the limited space for marginalized sectors because there is a legitimate issue involved. Beyond the issue of disqualification for these party lists, we would continue exposing the rottenness of the system and would apply the same amount of work to expose these bogus officials and organizations enjoying the perquisites of power and political space constitutionally provided to the underrepresented.

On another issue, it is important that you make clear the basis of your statements especially when you red-tag organizations like BAYAN. Red tagging has been a vicious tool of the Armed Forces of the Philippines of the reactionary government to suppress legitimate issues of human rights violations, corruption in government and deprivation of basic social services. In practice, these counter-progressive elements continue to become instrumental to perpetuating various human rights violations with impunity. We observed in the past that some of our members were later extra-judicially executed after being red-tagged systematically.

Party list organizations like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela were also red-tagged as you alleged that their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) goes to the Communist Party of the Philippines. Save for their own reply, this prompts our alliance to defend them at once as we criticize such unfair and old-tuned accusations against all progressive organizations in Eastern Visayas. We also challenge you to make in-depth research and expand your sources beyond the circle of your politician-friends and the fascist AFP.

In this case, please take more prudence in understanding what pushes people further to protest against a lopsided status quo and take more prudence from insinuating twisted criticisms, otherwise, we would elevate this to a more serious battle and might deem you accountable for whatever that might happen to anyone of us because of your irresponsible and hasty commentaries.

We lament when some ‘media personalities’ themselves become conscious instruments of the rich and powerful to further suppress and unjustly vilify the merits of the people’s issues. When the people who are supposed to cater to the voiceless and oppressed just care less about these, it is further marginalizing the voiceless like how keeping ‘silence’ preserves a crooked system. We respond to you with firm resolve to stop such a vicious habit against us. Impunity must not prevail even in this case and we demand that you cease baseless attacks against the progressives and focus on the issue instead.

Again on the issue of An Waray, we believe that it has become one of the ‘trapos’ and now a bogus party, based on the essence of the law, that must be junked altogether with Akbayan, Ako Bicol, ANAD, Bantay, Ang Galing Pinoy, etc., by the Commission on Elections. Without prejudice to the issue whether there are projects/programs that benefitted a number of Warays, there are also numerous points that are quite essential to remove particularly An Waray from the legislative body of Congress as a Party List, i.e., the performance of An Waray, thus far, within three Congressional terms.

In the Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. Comelec and Bayan Muna vs. Comelec ruling of the Supreme Court, former Justice Panganiban writes: “The party-list system is a social justice tool designed not only to give more law to the great masses of our people who have less in life, but also to enable them to become veritable lawmakers themselves, empowered to participate directly in the enactment of laws designed to benefit them. It intends to make the marginalized and the underrepresented not merely passive recipients of the State’s benevolence, but active participants in the mainstream of representative democracy. Thus, allowing all individuals and groups, including those which now dominate district elections, to have the same opportunity to participate in party-list elections would desecrate this lofty objective and mongrelize the social justice mechanism into atrocious veneer for traditional politics.”

In the case of An Waray, we know that for nine long years, its representatives were only able to author six House Bills from the 13th until the 15th Congress aside from co-authored bills. We have also known that there was not even a single bill of An Waray that has successfully become law unlike any other multisectoral Party Lists that principally authored bills catering to the interests of the marginalized sectors. We have also known that in the Department of Budget and Management’s Fiscal Year reports for 2011 and 2012 PDAFs releases, we observed that at least 50,000,000.00 million pesos was channeled to Tacloban City alone. What about the other members of the ‘sectors’ outside Tacloban City? What about the more essential bills?

Despite that, our allied organizations urged progressive representatives to legislate bills for the marginalized including those in the Eastern Visayas region. Unlike An Waray, the progressives in Congress militantly debated and fought for bills such as the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill. Unlike An Waray, there are representatives who have maintained initiative and independence despite the threat of blocking PDAF releases. In stark contrast, though, what did An Waray do during the heat of the anti-GMA protest and impeachment campaign? Did it not compromise its previous stand just to maintain its Pork Barrel? Is one of its representatives not involved too in the anomaly of overpricing laptops at the Committee on Accounts he leads as Chairperson?

As such, we end this rejoinder with another quote from Justice Panganiban: “Verily, allowing the non-marginalized and over-represented to vie for the remaining seats under the party list system would not only dilute, but also prejudice the chance of the marginalized and underrepresented, contrary to the intention of the law to enhance it. The party-list system is a tool for the benefit of the under-privileged; the law could not have given the same too to others, to the prejudice of the intended beneficiaries…This court cannot allow the party list system to be sullied and prostituted by those who are neither marginalized nor underrepresented.”

Thank you very much!

 

In behalf of the alliance,

 

 

JUN BERINO, SECRETARY GENERAL

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Eastern Visayas

Tacloban City, Philippines, 06500

bayansb@gmail.com, 0916-911-2676

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