Bayan hints at Aquino, Akbayan 'connivance'

Posted at 10/29/12 1:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines – An official of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) suspects party list group Akbayan may have been used by the Aquino campaign in 2010 to go around election laws.

In his blog, Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes said Akbayan received more than just the P14 million from President Aquino’s sisters -- Kris, Ballsy and Viel – during the 2010 campaign.

He said Viel’s husband and close allies also contributed to the campaign.

He said based on the statement of election contributions and expenses received by the Commission on Elections, Akbayan had around 115 cash donors and had a total of P110 million in donations as reported to Commission on Elections.

Aquino meanwhile had 96 donors for a combined P440 million. Common donors of Akbayan and the President are the Aquino sisters, cousins, the Juicos, businessman Gregorio Yu and Daniel Lichauco of the Ninoy and Cory Foundation.

Reyes, however, noted that Aquino’s sister – Viel – and her husband Richard Dee gave a combined P5 million to Akbayan’s war chest  “but did not contribute to Noynoy’s presidential bid, at least as far as submissions made by Aquino’s camp to Comelec will show.”

“Could it be that there’s more to these campaign reports that the parties and candidates are telling us?  How much of these reported contributions are real and how much are just for the sake of compliance with Comelec rules? How much of the donations were really intended for Aquino but were being made to appear as donations for Akbayan to circumvent the law?” he asked.

Reyes said the huge donations only show that Akbayan is “definitely beholden to the Aquinos.” He said that if Akbayan admits spending the money on shared TV ads with Aquino, “then this is also unacceptable since this is already a circumvention of the law as stated by Comelec.”

“Aquino wanted to exceed his allowed airtime for TV ads so he charged some airtime to Akbayan through the use of joint TV ads that featured mainly Aquino. With common donors between them, the ties between Aquino and Akbayan are indeed deeper that previously known,” he added.

Akbayan senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros meantime maintained there was nothing irregular with their arrangement with Aquino in 2010.

“There was no airtime sharing agreement and we abided by election regulations. We were in partnership with the presidential campaign of Noynoy Aquino and there were ads where he was featured w/ Akbayan, but these were all for our account,” she said. 

For his part, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said having members in the Cabinet and receiving donations from relatives of the President is not a ground to lose marginalized status of a party.

“There’s no specific standard set as to who is really marginalized. Even the SC and Comelec could hardly define marginalized for purposes of party list Philippine-style. The Supreme Court even held that the members of the party list need not 'wallow in poverty' to qualify. Thus, even if a party list succeeds, it’s still a matter of factual investigation if the party has lost its marginalized status,” he said.