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Comelec denies accreditation to workers' partylist 1 day after HK launch

16 January 2019

Cabantac led the HK launch of Manggagawa Partylist on Sunday, Jan. 13

By Daisy CL Mandap

Just a day after it was officially launched in Hong Kong, the Manggagawa Partylist learned that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) rejected its accreditation for the 2019 mid-term election in the Philippines on suspicion of foreign funding.

Victoria Casia-Cabantac, spokesperson of Manggagawa Partylist Hong Kong chapter, assailed the Comelec decision in a press statement released on Jan. 15, saying it deprived Filipino workers at home and abroad genuine representation in the legislature.

Cabantac said the accusation that the group was receiving funds from foreign governments and organizations was baseless, and was just part of the Duterte government’s “increasing attacks on progressive partylist organizations.”

She said Manggagawa will appeal the decision as it is unfair and is based on false allegations.

“There are numerous Comelec-accredited dubious and fake partylist organisations whose nominees came from clans of traditional politicians, landlord families and big businesses misrepresenting the poor and marginalized groups in the Philippines. They are the ones that should be delisted from the partylist election and not the legitimate partylist of the poor and unrepresented Filipino workers,” she said in her statement.

The partylist system was formed under Republic Act 7941 to allow marginalized sectors to have seats in the House of Representatives. The partylist groups are allowed to represent workers, farmers, fishermen, urban poor, ethnic minorities, the elderly, persons with disabilities, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals.

According to Cabantac, Manggagawa is made up of various workers groups in both the Philippines and abroad, including Kilusang Mayo Union, a trade union; Piston, made up of public utility drivers; Kadamay, for the urban poor; and Migrante, for overseas Filipino workers.

Named as first nominee for the May elections is Elmer Labog, KMU national chair; second nominee is Jaime Paglinawan, KMU Cebu chair; and third nominee is Gloria Arellano of Kadamay.

Also among the nominees is Arman Hernando, vice-chair of Migrante Sectoral Party.

In previous elections, Migrante was accredited as a partylist representing migrant workers, and fielded several Hong Kong OFWs among its nominees, including Connie Bragas-Regalado, Eman Villanueva and Caridad Bachiller.

However, it was delisted by Comelec in April last year for failing to win enough votes in two successive elections.

Under the PartyList System Act, Comelec may cancel a partylist’s registration if it fails to participate in the last two preceding elections, or fails to obtain at least 2 percent of the votes cast in the two preceding elections.

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