Comelec urged to rid party-list system of biz groups

Posted at 11/25/2012 5:12 PM | Updated as of 11/26/2012 11:20 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should also purge the party-list system of business associations that are not representative of the marginalized.

In a statement, the FPI said it “welcomes the recent moves of the Comelec to weed out questionable party-list groups, but this process will be completed only if those actually representing business groups or vested interests are all disqualified. Otherwise, dealers and traders in other industries will be tempted to follow suit. This will surely make a mockery of the party-list law.”

FPI chairman Jesus L. Arranza said the poll body should already render judgment on pending petitions, such as what the group filed against the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Manufacturers Association (LPGMA).

He said he does not understand why the Comelec has not resolved the matter when similar cases have already been decided.

As businessmen engaged in the refilling and retailing of LPG, LPGMA’s members cannot be considered as “marginalized” since it is public knowledge that engaging in this business would require substantial capital, FPI said in its statement.

“LPGMA’s claim that it is protecting the interests of consumers of LPG runs counter to the basic tenet that profit is what propels one to go to business. There is also a conflict of interest when a public office is being used to protect and promote a business group,” FPI added.

It also said LPGMA does not represent the professional sector, which the party-list law covers. “LPGMA cannot exactly pinpoint to which particular profession its members belong. The list of members that was submitted to Comelec does not even indicate the academic degrees obtained by LPGMA members,” FPI added.

“The fact is its members are dealers and traders of LPG as well as their employees and members of their families. Clearly, dealers and traders of LPG cannot be considered as part of a professional sector,” FPI noted.