Sep 222014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1215 2007-04-18 03:05 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
DE RUEHML #1215/01 1080305
O 180305Z APR 07



E.O. 12958: N/A

¶1. (SBU) Summary. The Philippine Constitution provides for a
party-list system to give marginalized and disadvantaged sectors of
the population representation in Congress. Party-list organizations
must obtain at least two percent of the vote nationwide to win a
seat. In the Congress elected in 2004, there were 16 party-list
organizations occupying 24 seats in the 250-member House of
Representatives, including five leftist organizations that occupy 10
seats. The Commission on Elections has accredited 92 party-list
organizations for the May 2007 midterm elections, but opposition
leaders are seeking to disqualify almost a dozen, alleging that
these organizations are fronts for the Arroyo Administration.
Allegations have also surfaced that the Commission on Elections has
secretly offered party-list accreditation in exchange for hefty

bribes. A recent poll found that 11 party-list groups could win up
to 17 seats in the upcoming elections. To many voters, the party
list elections are virtually irrelevant, since these representatives
are doomed toward a minority role within the opposition, with no
chance of passing legislation. Some Administration officials,
however, see a more sinister role, claiming at least some party list
representatives take advantage of “pork barrel” funds directly or
indirectly to help the Communist Party of the Philippines and/or the
New People’s Army. End Summary.

Party List Requirements

¶2. (U) The 1987 Philippine Constitution established the party-list
system to provide marginalized and disadvantaged sectors access to
representation in Congress, reserving 20% of the 250 seats in the
House of Representatives for party-list representatives. However,
Congress did not pass enabling legislation on party-list elections
until 1995, so the first time any party list representatives won was
in the nationwide 1998 elections.

¶3. (U) Voters actually cast two votes for Congress: one vote for
a district representative and another vote for a party-list
organization chosen at large. An organization can win a maximum of
three seats. It must obtain 2% of the votes cast nationwide under
the party-list system to win one seat; 4% to win two; and 6% to win
three. Votes exceeding these exact percentages are considered

¶4. (U) To qualify to run for a party-list seat, an organization
must seek accreditation from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC),
which acts on applications based onthe Party-List Law and a 2001
Supreme Court ruling prescribing an 8-point guideline. Once
accredited, an organization submits to the COMELEC a list of three
to five nominees for the party-list seats. The actual names of the
nominees are not public, however; there is clamor to make them so
this year (see para 10).

Current Party-List Situation

¶5. (U) At present, there are 16 party-list organizations occupying
24 seats in the Congress that emerged from the May 2004 elections.
Five leftist organizations representing peasants, workers, and
women, occupy 10 seats (Bayan Muna and Akbayan each occupy three
seats; Anakpawis occupies two; Gabriela and Partido Manggagawa
occupy one seat each). APEC, representing electric cooperatives,
also occupies three seats. Buhay, a pro-life organization
identified with “Brother Mike” Velarde’s El Shaddai Catholic
charismatic movement, has two seats. The remaining nine
organizations, representing various special interests (including the
son of “Brother Eddie” Villanueva of the “Jesus Is Lord” movement),
occupy one seat each. These organizations won over the more than 60
party-list groups accredited for the 2004 elections.

——————————————— ——
Opposition Ties Party-List Groups to Administration
——————————————— ——

¶6. (U) For the May 2007 midterm elections, the COMELEC accredited a
total 92 party-list organizations, including the 16 currently in
Congress. However, Akbayan Representative Loretta Ann Rosales is
seeking disqualification of 11 organizations that she has alleged
are fronts for the Arroyo Administration. She has further alleged
that these organizations are seeking to edge out the left, calling
them “political insurance” for the Administration against future
impeachment moves against President Arroyo in Congress. If the
COMELEC declines to disqualify these groups, Rosales has vowed to
bring the issue before the Supreme Court, citing a guideline that a
party-list organization “must not be an adjunct of, or a project by,
or an entity funded or assisted by the government.”

¶7. (U) The 11 organizations with alleged ties to the Arroyo
Administration include Babae Ka (Women for Progress) and Ang
Kasangga (Partners for Progress), reportedly organized by the Sigaw

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ng Bayan – a Malacanang-backed private organization behind the
failed People’s Initiative to amend the Constitution in 2006. The
Ahon Pinoy (Rise, Filipino), representing overseas foreign workers,
supposedly has the backing of Dante Ang, Chairman of the Commission
on Filipinos Overseas and chief executive officer of The Manila
Times. Aksyong Sambayanan (National Action) is reportedly
affiliated with government ally Democratic Socialist Party of the
Philippines. Another new group, Biyaheng Pinoy (Filipino Ride) —
supposedly representing pedi-cab drivers — is headed by the
physician brother of COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos.

¶8. (U) The list also includes the National Alliance for Democracy
(ANAD), reportedly an umbrella organization of anti-communist
forces; Aangat Tayo (We will rise), headed by Philippine
International Trading Corporation vice president Teddie Rivera, who
oversees President Arroyo’s campaign for low-cost medicine; and
Agbiag, advocating Ilocano unity and progress, headed by Marcelo
Farinas II, Malacanang’s Assistant Secretary in the Office of
External Affairs. Agbiag reportedly has the backing of outgoing
Ilocos Sur Governor and League of Provinces president Luis Chavit
Singson, now an Administration senatorial candidate.

¶9. (U) Separately, BARA, a new private party-list watchdog, has
alleged that there are “fixers” — with connections to Malacanang’s
Office of External Affairs and the COMELEC — promising party
nomination for a fee ranging from P3 to P7 million (USD 60,000 –
140,000), including accreditation, which would cost P1.2 million
(USD 24,000). Ateneo de Manila University Professor Danton Remoto,
whose gay and lesbian party-list group Ang Ladlad did not receive
COMELEC accreditation, has claimed that he was offered accreditation
for a lower amount of P500,000 (USD 10,000) but rejected it.
Stating these moves undermine the election system as an institution,
the COMELEC vowed to look into the allegations and urged
whistle-blowers to provide specific information.

——————————————— —-
COMELEC Resists Disclosure of Party-List Nominees
——————————————— —-

¶10. (U) The COMELEC has so far resisted pressure from Kontra Daya
— a coalition of private organizations to guard the May 2007
elections — to disclose the names of party-list nominees,
reportedly so as not to “confuse” the voters. Commissioner
Resurreccion Borra explained that the law does not require such
disclosure, and that voters need to know only the organization and
the sector it represents, not its actual nominees. He stressed that
the latter should not be the influencing factor in casting votes
under the party-list system. He added that the right time to seek
disqualification of party-list nominees would be after elections.

SWS March 2007 Survey

¶11. (U) A Social Weather Station survey in March used a national
sample of voters, 58% of whom had previously voted for a party-list
representative. This would represent 26 million of the 45.05
million total registered voters; 2% would represent 520,000 votes.
The survey showed that if the elections were held today, eleven
party-list groups would meet the minimum 2% votes and would obtain
17 seats.

¶12. (U) Leftist groups hold a substantial lead among party list
organizations, including (with percentage support of likely voters
in parentheses):

– Bayan Muna (People First) (28%), the premier socialist party,
garnered the highest percentage and will almost certainly keep its
three seats. (Comment: Bayan Muna Congressman Teddy Casino told
Poloff that the organization would seek to establish more related
organizations to take full advantage of Bayan Muna’s surplus
percentage. End Comment.) (Note: Bayan Muna Congressman Satur
Ocampo is presently facing 15 counts of murder in connection with an
internal purge in the communist movement in the early 90’s. End

– Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) (6.2%), an offshoot of Bayan Muna, has
a good chance to increase its seats from two to three. (Note:
Anakpawis Congressman Crispin Beltran is under hospital detention
facing rebellion charges in connection with the February 2005 coup
plot against the Arroyo government. End Note);

– Gabriela (5.8%), an organization dedicated to women’s rights, has
a good chance of adding another seat to its current one seat; and,

– Akbayan (Embrace) (3.9%), a moderate leftist organization, will
likely retain two of its current three seats.

¶12. (U) Other party-list organizations with a chance of winning a

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seat include:

– Muslim group AMIN (Child of Mindanao) (3%);

– CIBAC (Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption, represented by
Brother Eddie Villanueva’s son, Joel) (2.3%), will likely retain its
current single seat;

– AANGAT KA Pilipino (You will Rise, Filipino) (5%), a new player,
is poised to grab two seats;

– ANAK (Angat Ating Kabuhayan, Pilipinas or Improve our Livelihood,
Philippines) (2.3%);

– A TEACHER (Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment Through Action,
Cooperation and Harmony Towards Education Reforms) (2.2%);

– Aangat Tayo (We will Rise) (2%); and,

– Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Moro People) (2%), affiliated with
Bayan Muna.

¶13. (U) Current party-list organizations at risk of losing seats

– APEC (1.8%) (Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives)
could lose its three seats;

– BUHAY (1.6%) (Let Life Grow) is at risk of losing its two seats;

– Partido Manggagawa (1.8%) (Workers’ Party), a militant labor
group, risks losing its lone seat;

– An Waray (People of Eastern Visayas), (1.8%) also risks losing
its sole seat; and,

– Coop NATCO (Cooperative-National Confederation of Cooperatives
Network Party) (1.5%) also risks losing its single seat.


¶14. (SBU) To many voters, the elections of party list
organizations are virtually irrelevant, since it is a foregone
conclusion that the representatives will be a small minority within
Congress and will almost certainly be on the Opposition side. Their
chance of passing any legislation is almost nil, although Akbayan
Congresswoman Rosales’ long-time quest for legislation enabling
distribution of some of the Marcos wealth to human rights victims
and for small-scale agrarian reform may finally succeed this year;
the bill made it through both houses as well as the bicameral
committee and only needs a final vote by the lower House on the
bicameral version during Congress’ lame duck session in June. At
the same time, many of the party list representatives are personally
popular, especially among the poorer voters, and many have played
prominent, vocal roles in various protest movements, including
anti-Arroyo campaigns in 2005 and 2006. Some in the Administration,
however, see a more sinister role, and have repeatedly alleged that
at least some party list representatives have channeled
Congressional “pork barrel” funding to the Communist Party of the
Philippines or even to the terrorist New People’s Army.



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