Comelec session highlights messy political alliances

Posted at 02/28/2013 11:24 PM | Updated as of 03/07/2013 8:22 PM

Brillantes calls ex-client, Nationalist People's Coalition, disorganized

MANILA (UPDATED) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc session to determine who gets accredited as a dominant majority party, dominant minority party, and major political party nationwide focused on the circuitous and messy alliances of candidates and parties.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, formerly the legal counsel of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), found himself criticizing his former client for being “disorganized.”

Comelec heard the application of NPC to be accredited as a major political party for the 2013 mid-term elections.

Brillantes, however, pointed out that NPC has Senator Loren Legarda running in coalition with the administration’s Liberal Party (LP), while it has Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile running under the banner of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Enrile’s certificate of candidacy was, however, filed as NPC when NPC is supportive of President Aquino, who chairs the LP.

NPC founder and chairman emeritus Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco is the uncle of President Aquino.

NPC was asked to submit a memorandum explaining its position in 3 days.

NPC legal counsel Nelia Aureus explained that she’s not privy to the alliances of the candidates.

She stressed that it’s the candidates’ decision where they will campaign.

NPC fits well, says Danding's son

Cojuangco’s son, former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, commented over Twitter that the NPC is “not disorganized.”

“Well organized given the structural environment! It fits really well,” he said.

Brillantes, in a subsequent press conference explained, “Kasi ako, dati abugado. I’ve been legal counsel of NPC since 1992. Chine-check ko lang, nandoon sila both sides may NPC sa admin ticket at may NPC sa UNA. Saan sila kakampaniya? Sino sinusuportahan nila, are they supporting candidates of both sides? Parang ‘di lang maliwanag ang representation.”

Arroyo's Lakas CMD

NPC was once supportive of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Arroyo’s party, the once dominant Lakas CMD, now finds itself applying to be designated as dominant minority party.

Represented by legal counsel John Carlo Gil Sadian, Lakas cites that while it has no senatorial candidate, it has under 900 candidates for local positions nationwide.

Sadian argued that Lakas is the only party whose candidates come from its own ranks, and not in coalition with any other party.

Lakas, which was used to be called Lakas-KAMPI-CMD, was the party that carried Arroyo and former President Fidel Ramos during their respective administrations. It was the dominant majority party in the last elections. Kampi was Arroyo’s original political party before going to Lakas.

Kampi broke away from Lakas in the early days of the Aquino administration to form the National Unity Party (NUP), which now supports Aquino.

Meanwhile, NUP, claiming 2,200 candidates for various positions this election, wants to be accredited as a major political party.

Lakas now finds itself in an apparent reversal of roles with the Liberal Party, which was designated as a dominant minority party in previous elections.

While Lakas vies to be a dominant minority party, LP now wants to be designated as a dominant majority party. LP cited among its qualifications it being the party of President Aquino.

While Lakas and LP applied for only one of either being the dominant majority or minority party, UNA, the registered coalition of the PDP-Laban of Vice President Jejomar Binay and  Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino of former President Joseph Estrada, applied to be designated as dominant majority or minority and major political party.

It claims to have 2,726 candidates nationwide, with 10 senators.

UNA was given a chance to change the line-up of its candidates after it dropped guest candidates Francis Escudero, Grace Poe and Loren Legarda.

Whoever is determined to be dominant majority or minority gets their own copies of the election returns and gets to deploy watchers in precincts.

Major political parties

Comelec also heard the application of the Nacionalista Party to be a major political party.

Brillantes presided over the session with commissioners Grace Padaca and Christian Robert Lim as members.

Commissioner Elias Yusoph is on official business in Mindanao while Lucenito Tagle is in Berlin, Germany for the preparations for overseas absentee voting.

Padaca was a member of LP when she filed candidacy for Isabela governor in 2010.

Comelec also heard the applications of local parties  Kusog Baryohanon, KAMBILAN, United Negros Aliance, Hugpong, Partido Abe Kapampangan, and Arangkada San Joseno to be designated as major local parties in their areas.

Comelec can accredit 2 local parties in each area.

Brillantes said he has reviewed the qualifications of the parties.

He said the Comelec is allowed to accredit 10 major political parties, but since there are only 6, “they’re practically all in, walang issue. We don’t have to make computations.”

“There are only 3 applying to be the dominant. We’re going to select dominant majority, dominant minority, 2 dun sa 3 pasok na,” he added.

Thirty copies of precinct election returns will be printed, with 10 of those going to the political parties.

Rights and benefits of dominant parties

Comelec Resolution 9611 states that the designated dominant majority and minority parties enjoy the following privileges:

“Section 26. Official Watchers. – Every registered political party or coalition of political parties, and every candidate shall each be entitled to one watcher in every polling place and canvassing center: Provided, That, candidates for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, or Sangguniang Bayan belonging to the same slate or ticket shall collectively be entitled to one watcher.

The dominant majority party and dominant minority party, which the Commission shall determine in accordance with law, shall each be entitled to one official watcher who shall be paid a fixed per diem of Four hundred pesos (P400.00).

There shall also be recognized six principal watchers, representing the six accredited major political parties excluding the dominant majority and minority parties, who shall be designated by the Commission upon nomination of the said parties.

Section 19 and Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9369 require that copies of the election returns and certificate of canvass be given to the (a) dominant majority party; (b) the dominant minority party; (c) ten (10) major national parties; and (d) two (2) major local parties.”
 
Comelec Resolution 9611 also imposes the following criteria:

“Section 3. Criteria for determining the dominant majority party, dominant minority party, ten (10) major national parties and two (2) major local parties. – The dominant majority party, the dominant minority party, the ten (10) major national parties and the two (2) major local parties shall be determined on the basis of the following criteria:

(a) The established record of the said parties, coalition, of groups that now composed them, taking into account, among other things, their showing in past elections;

(b) The number of incumbent elective officials belonging to them ninety (90) days before the date of election;

(c) Their identifiable political organizations and strengths as evidenced by their organized chapters;

(d) The ability to fill a complete slate of candidates from the municipal level to the position of the President (Senators); and

(e) Other analogous circumstances that may determine their relative organizations and strengths.

For purposes of the foregoing, petitioner shall include in its petition, pertinent data and statistics to support its arguments in accordance with the above criteria.”

The same resolution also says:

“These political parties shall be determined by the Commission upon notice and hearing on the basis of the following circumstances:

(a) The established record of the said parties, coalition of groups that now composed them, taking into account among other things, their showing in past elections;

(b) The number of incumbent elective officials belonging to them ninety (90) days before the date of election;

(c) Their identifiable political organizations and strengths as evidenced by their organized chapters;

(d) The ability to fill a complete slate of candidates from the municipal level to the position of President (Senators); and

(e) Other analogous circumstances that may determine their relative organizations and strengths.”