More than two weeks after the May 2013 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has finally proclaimed, albeit still incomplete, the winning party list groups. Looking at the composition of the party list representatives who will sit in the 16th Congress, it appears that at least 29 out of the 53 representatives initially proclaimed by Comelec (from 38 party list groups) either come from political dynasties, related to current or former government officials, are former public officials themselves, and/or are multi-millionaires. The remaining five seats (to complete the mandated 58 seats) will likely be bagged by representatives coming from the political and economic elite as well. Thus, when the much delayed proclamation has already been completed, political clans, former public officials and/or multi-millionaires will occupy more than half of the seats intended for the poor and marginalized (at least 34 out of 58 party list seats).
After gaining some ground to rid the party list system of questionable and bogus groups, the people’s campaign was ultimately derailed by the Comelec itself when it allowed some of the dubious parties to run, and further by the Supreme Court (SC) when it decided that the party list system is not exclusive to under-represented and marginalized sectors. (Download the SC decision here.) Because of their power, influence and wealth, many of these questionable and bogus party list groups were able to clinch seats in the incoming 16th Congress while those that genuinely represent the under-represented and marginalized were, well, marginalized.
Political dynasties (at least four reps)
Winning party list groups include those associated with established political dynasties such ABONO (Rep. Conrado Estrella III from the Estrella clan of Pangasinan and Rep. Francisco Ortega III from the Ortega clan of La Union); AAMBIS-OWA (Rep. Sharon Garin from the Garin clan of Iloilo) and; AVE (Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay from the Magsaysay clan of Zambales). Expectedly, the bailiwicks of these political clans delivered votes for their party list groups. Pangasinan and La Union, the bailiwicks of the Ortegas and Estrellas, for instance, accounted for more than 78% of the votes of ABONO, based on partial and unofficial results posted on the Comelec website. Votes from Iloilo, the bailiwick of the Garins, comprised more than 55% of the votes garnered by AAMBIS-OWA.
Related to politicians, public officials (at least five reps)
Other winning party list groups will have representatives related to sitting government officials like Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. of ABAMIN, brother of reelected Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez; and Rep. Raymond Mendoza of TUCP, husband of reelected North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza. Note that more than 19% of the votes cornered by TUCP came from North Cotabato. Others are relatives of high ranking officials of the judiciary such as Rep. Catalina Leonen-Pizarro of ABS, wife of Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Normandie Pizarro and AMA Rep. Lorna Velasco, wife of SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco. Meanwhile, DIWA Rep. Emmeline Aglipay is the daughter of former Philippine National Police (PNP) Edgardo Aglipay.
Former government officials (at least seven reps)
Former government officials are also making a political comeback as party list representatives. They include former Manila Mayor and Environment Secretary (Arroyo administration) Lito Atienza of BUHAY; former Undersecretary for Political Affairs (current Aquino administration) Ibarra Gutierrez III of AKBAYAN; former Labor Attache of the Philippine Embassy in the UAE (Cory Aquino administration), former Ambassador in Washington DC (Ramos administration), and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Commission or NLRC (Estrada administration) Roy Señeres of OFW Family; former National Anti-Poverty Commission or NAPC member (Arroyo administration) and former Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR assistant secretary Rep. Cresente Paez and former National Cooperative Development Council or NCDC officer Anthony Bravo of COOP-NATCCO; former Road Board member (Aquino administration) Jesulito Manalo of Angkla; and former Department of Justice or DOJ Secretary (Ramos administration) Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP.
Multi-millionaires (at least 13 reps)
Finally, multi-millionaires (i.e. those with a net worth of almost or over P10 million as declared in their 2012 SALN and/or are associated with business interests) will again also sit as supposed representatives of the poor and marginalized including BUHAY Reps. Mariano Velarde, son of El Shaddai founder Bro. Mike Velarde, and William Tieng, whose family controls Solar Sports; A Teacher Reps. Mariano Piamonte, board member of a private Bulacan university and former executive director of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), and Julieta Cortuna; 1-CARE Rep. Michael Angelo Rivera; AKO BICOL Reps. Christopher Co (of Albay’s rich Co family that owns transnational group Sunwest Group of Companies, Tektone Global Technologies Foundation, commercial hub Embarcadero de Legaspi, and other construction firms, malls, and resorts) and Rodel Batocabe; AGAP Rep. Nicanor Briones; AN WARAY Rep. Neil Montejo, whose family owns hotels in Tacloban City; YACAP Rep. Carol Lopez; BUTIL Rep. Agapito Guanlao; LPGMA Rep. Arnel Ty, an incorporator of various LPG distributors in the country; and ALAY BUHAY Rep. Weslie Gatchalian, whose family owns Waterfront Phils., the largest Filipino-owned hotel chain in the country;
But note also that those who come from political clans or are related to current and former government officials are also multi-millionaires and have interests in various businesses as well. The table below lists the 16 party list representatives who were members of the 15th Congress with a declared net worth of almost or more than P10 million and will sit again in the 16th Congress as party list legislators.
Remaining five seats
Other party-list representatives who will likely bag the remaining five seats are also former government officials, related to public officials and/or multi-millionaires including former Cagayan congressman Patricio Antonio of AGBIAG!, the richest party-list representative in the 15th Congress with a net worth of P67.87 million, based on his 2012 SALN. Others are ALIF Rep. Abdul Tomawis, whose uncle Jerry Tomawis is currently the administrator of the Southern Philippine Development Authority (SPDA); former Toll Regulatory Board or TRB member (Aquino administration) Pablo Nava III of Append Inc.; PBA Rep. Mark Sambar, who has a net worth of P12.09 million (2012 SALN); and former Angadangan, Isabela Mayor Jose Panganiban of ANAC-IP.
Listed below are some of these questionable groups, based on an earlier research done by poll watchdog Kontra Daya with some additional/updated information:
Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (BUHAY) is associated with the religious group El Shaddai with its top nominee, incumbent Rep. Mariano Velarde, being the son of influential El Shaddai founder and leader Bro. Mike Velarde (who also used to be a nominee of BUHAY). Rep. Velarde is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P52.75 million (2012 SALN). The group’s second nominee is Jose Atienza, a former Manila mayor and secretary of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR). Its third nominee, incumbent Rep. William Tieng, is another multi-millionaire with a net worth of P14.77 million (2012 SALN) and belongs to the family that controls Solar Sports. All three nominees – Velarde, Atienza and Tieng – will sit in the 16th Congress for BUHAY.
The Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment through Action, Cooperation, and Harmony (A TEACHER) claims to represent teachers. But its top nominee, incumbent Rep. Mariano Piamonte Jr., is the former executive director of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and board member of the University of Regina Carmeli in Malolos, Bulacan. Piamonte has a declared net worth of P5.44 million (2012 SALN). Its second nominee, incumbent Rep. Julieta Cortuna is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P16.20 million. Other nominees are associated as well with private school administrators such as its fifth nominee, lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, the vice president for administration of the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) and executive director of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea). Piamonte and Cortuna will sit in the 16th Congress to represent A TEACHER.
The First Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy Inc. (1-CARE) claims to represent not only the rural-based consumers of electricity but consumers of other utility services as well including water, transportation and telephone. The group was earlier disqualified by the Comelec on the grounds that electricity consumers are not necessarily a marginalized sector because they could also include well-off consumers. It second nominee, incumbent Rep. Michael Angelo Rivera is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P9.63 million (2012 SALN). Rivera and first nominee Edgardo Masongsong will sit in the 16th Congress for 1-CARE.
The AKBAYAN Citizen’s Action Party is a close ally of the Aquino administration and many of its top officials have clinched key presidential appointments. They include second nominee Ibarra Gutierrez III (undersecretary for political affairs) & third nominee Angelina Ludovice-Katoh (member of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor); former AKBAYAN representatives Etta Rosales (Commission on Human Rights), Mario Agujo (member of the GSIS Board of Trustees) & Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel (spokesperson of the National Anti-Poverty Commission; also a losing senatorial bet under the Team PNoy); former AKBAYAN presidents Ronald Llamas (presidential adviser on political affairs) & Joel Rocamora (head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission); and former AKBAYAN chairperson Percival Cendaña (commissioner-at-large of the National Youth Commission). AKBAYAN also received P18 million in campaign funds from presidential relatives including P10 million from Kris Aquino during the 2010 polls. AKBAYAN’s incumbent representative, Walden Bello, has a declared net worth of P6.84 million (2012 SALN). Joining Bello to represent AKBAYAN in the 16th Congress is Gutierrez.
The AKO BICOL Political Party claims to advocate progress and development of the Bicol Region. It had three representatives in the previous Congress. First is Christopher Co of the Co clan of businessmen in Bicol. Also members of the current Congress are lawyers Rodel Batocabe and Alfredo Garbin, both multi-millionaires with a net worth of P29.18 million and P13.30 million, respectively (2012 SALN). For the 16th Congress, Co and Batocabe will sit as AKO BICOL representatives.
The ABONO Party List claims to represent the agricultural sector. However, both incumbent representatives, Conrado Estrella III and Franciso Emmanuel Ortega III, come from the Estrella and Ortega political clans in Pangasinan & La Union. Both representatives are multi-millionaires with Ortega III’s net worth pegged at P17.2 million. Conrado III’s brother, Raymund Estrella, is an incumbent representative of ABONO with a net worth of P11.03 million (2012 SALN) while Francisco’s brother, Victor Ortega, also an incumbent ABONO representative, has a net worth of P25.67 million (2012 SALN). In the 2013 elections, other members of the Ortega clan that won a seat in La Union include Victor Ortega (Lakas), first district representative; Manoling Ortega (NPC), provincial governor; and Francisco Ortega Jr. (NPC), member Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Estrella III and Ortega III will represent ABONO in the 16th Congress.
The OFW Family Club Inc. seems to be more of a family club than about the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Its top nominee, Roy Señeres Sr., occupied various positions in past administrations – Labor Attache of the Philippine Embassy in the UAE under Cory Aquino; Ambassador in Washington DC under Ramos; and chairman of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) under Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo. His son, Roy Jr., is the third nominee while daughter Hannah Señeres Francisco is the fourth nominee. Meanwhile, the second nominee, Juan “Johnny” Revilla, is the project manager of Placewell Manpower, one of the three recruitment agencies hired by the Comelec to provide IT technicians to help operate the PCOS machines during the 2010 presidential elections, according to Migrante International. The group also alleged that Placewell is among the most notorious recruitment agencies involved in various cases of illegal recruitment and other violations against OFWs. Señeres and Revilla will sit as representatives of the OFW Family in the 16th Congress.
The Cooperative NATCCO (National Confederation of Cooperatives) Network Party or COOP-NATCCO has as its top nominee incumbent Rep. Cresente Paez, a former appointee of Gloria Arroyo to the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). He was also an undersecretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) during the Cory Aquino administration and a former member of the United Coconut Planters’ Bank (UCPB) Board of Directors. Paez has a declared net worth of P1.19 million (2012 SALN). Its second nominee, Anthony Bravo, is an official of the National Cooperative Development Council. Paez and Bravo will represent the group in the 16th Congress.
The Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (AGAP) claims to represent the agricultural sector including the poor farmers but its top nominee, incumbent Rep. Nicanor Briones, is chairman of big security firm Audacious Services and is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P46.37 million (2012 SALN). Briones and second nominee Rico Geron will sit in the 16th Congress as AGAP representatives.
The group’s top nominee, incumbent Rep. Neil Montejo, is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P17.79 million (2012 SALN). His family owns the Montejo Newspaper and Hotel Alejandro, a prominent and luxurious hotel in Tacloban City. Another current Rep. Florencio Noel, husband of Malabon Congresswoman Jane Lacson-Noel (who was reelected), is also a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P15 million. Its third nominee, Victoria Isabel Noel, is a relative of Reps. Florencio and Jane Noel while fifth nominee Patrick Aguilos was a losing Liberal Party (LP) candidate for Tacloban City councilor in the 2010 polls. For the 16th Congress, Montejo and second nominee, Jude Acidre, will represent AN WARAY.
Abante Mindanao Inc.’s (ABAMIN) first nominee, incumbent Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr., is the brother of Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P9.68 million (2012 SALN). Second nominee Virginia Sering is the sister-in-law of Maximo and is a full-time realtor being a member of the Muntinlupa Realtors Board as well as president of the Soroptimist International of Alabang. Third nominee Irenetta Montinola is also a distant relative of Maximo and was the executive director of the National Historical Institute (NHI) in 2007. Maximo Rodriguez will again represent ABAMIN in the 16th Congress.
The BUTIL Farmers Party was earlier disqualified by the Comelec because the group failed to prove that its nominees belong to the agriculture & cooperative sector. For the 16th Congress, BUTIL will be again be represented by Agapito Guanlao, a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P14.79 million.
The Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support, Inc. (ACT-CIS) is closely associated with the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) whose head, Chief Police Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. is the husband of second nominee Ma. Rosella P. Pagdilao. For the 16th Congress, the group will be represented by top nominee Jerome Oliveros.
The LPG Marketers’ Association (LPGMA) claims to represent independent and small LPG retailers. Its top nominee, incumbent Rep. Arnel Ty, is a multi-millionaire with a declared net worth of P15.13 million (2012 SALN) and is an incorporator of various LPG firms including Omni Gas Corp., Republic Gas Corp., Pinnacle Gas, Multi Gas Corp., Extraordinaire Gas Corp. and Suncrest Gas Corp. Ty will once again represent LPGMA in the 16th Congress.
The Kalinga-Advocacy for Social Empowerment and Nation Building Through Easing Poverty Inc. (KALINGA) claims to work for the youth, senior citizens and poor families. The group is associated with the religious group Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (4th Watch) with top nominee, incumbent Rep. Abigail Ferriol being the daughter of PMCC Bishop Arturo Ferriol. Its fourth nominee, Osinando Quillao, is a PMCC pastor. Ferriol will again represent KALINGA in the 16th Congress.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) claims to represent the ordinary workers. Its top nominee, incumbent Rep. Raymond Mendoza, is a lawyer and husband of North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza. Mendoza is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P3.87 million (2012 SALN). His brother Michael is the group’s fourth nominee while their father Democrito is TUCP President and Chairman of OPASCOR, a cargo handling company for foreign cargoes at the Cebu International Airport. Second nominee Anthony Sasin is Management Consultant & Board of Director of ANFLOCOR, which manages firms engaged in exporting bananas & pineapples, real estate, etc. The third nominee is Miguel Niez, an Assistant Vice President & Manager for Materials Management of banana exporter TADECO. Mendoza will again represent TUCP in the 16th Congress.
The You Against Corruption and Poverty’s (YACAP) top nominee, incumbent Rep. Carol Lopez, is a multi-millionaire businesswoman with a net worth of P16.95 million (2012 SALN). The group used to be Youth Against Corruption and Poverty but “Youth” was later dropped and replaced by “You” as Lopez could no longer represent the youth sector because of age. For the 16th Congress, Lopez will again represent YACAP.
The Agri-Agra na Reporm para sa Magsasaka ng Pilipinas (AGRI) claims to represent farmers but has no track record of promoting its advocacy. It was disqualified by the Comelec because the group stopped existing after the 2010 elections, when it ran but lost, and was only revived in February 2012. Michael Ryan Enriquez will represent AGRI in the 16th Congress.
Ang Partido ng mga Marinong Pilipino Inc. (ANGKLA) claims to represent OFWs/seafarers. Its top nominee, Jesulito Manalo, is a presidential appointee to the Road Board as private sector representative. He is also the corporate secretary of the Philippine Racing Club Inc. and the Heritage Park Management Corp. as well as president of the Summit Rural Bank of Lipa. Jesulito’s relative, Jose Miguel, a lawyer, is Angkla’s nominee. Other nominees include Alfredo Haboc, the Dean of the Mapua-PTC College of Maritime Education and Training. Manalon will represent ANGKLA in the 16th Congress.
The Arts and Business Science Professionals (ABS) has as its first nominee, incumbent Rep. Catalina Leonen-Pizarro who is the wife of Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Normandie Pizarro and is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P39.09 million (2012 SALN). Pizarro will again represent ABS in the 16th Congress.
The Democratic Independent Workers Association (DIWA) claims to represent the labor sector. Its top nominee is incumbent Rep. Emmeline Aglipay, who is a former student council president at the De La Salle University (DLSU) and whose family owns one of the country’s largest security agencies. Aglipay is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P9.64 million (2012 SALN). The group’s second nominee Ramon Bergado is the chairperson and national president of PADPAO (Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agencies Operators Inc.) while fourth nominee Leopoldo Blanco is PADPAO Region VII president and national director, president of NICO Security Agency, former OIC Vice Governor of Bohol and former president of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry. For the 16th Congress, Aglipay will again represent DIWA.
The ALAY BUHAY Community Development Foundation Inc.’s (ALAY BUHAY) first nominee, incumbent Rep. Weslie Gatchalian (proclaimed by the Comelec just last October 2012), is the son of tycoon and so-called “Plastics King” (and alleged crony of ousted President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada) William Gatchalian. He holds key positions in the family’s businesses including as Assistant to the President of Waterfront Philippines (the largest Filipino-owned hotel chain in the country) and Vice President for Investments & International Affairs of the Wellex Group. His brothers Sherwin and Rex are incumbent Mayor & first district Congressman, respectively, of Valenzuela City. Gatchalian will represent ALAY BUHAY in the 16th Congress.
The Asosasyon Sang Mangunguma nga Bisaya-Owa Mangunguma (AAMBIS-OWA) claims to represent “small landowners in far-flung areas”. Its first nominee, incumbent Rep. Sharon Garin, is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P26.66 million (2012 SALN) and comes from a powerful political family in Iloilo that includes her father Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Oscar Garin while her mother is San Joaquin mayor Nimfa Garin. Other family members in government include brother Iloilo vice governor Richard Garin, sister Guimbal mayor Christine Garin and sister-in-law Cong. Janette Garin, one of the richest congressmen with a net worth of P100.89 million (2012 SALN). Another member of the clan, Jimmy Garin, is the group’s third nominee. Sharon Garin is the group’s representative in the 16th Congress.
The Social Amelioration and Genuine Intervention on Poverty (1-SAGIP) claims to represent the poor. It second nominee, Edgardo Madamba is the assistant head of the Quezon City Urban Poor Affairs Office (UPAO) and is facing a graft complaint before the Ombudsman. Erlinda Santiago will represent 1-SAGIP in the 16th Congress.
The Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE) claims to represent the teachers. Its top nominee is incumbent Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay who comes from the known Magsaysay political clan in Zambales that includes former Zambales Governor Vic Magsaysay, former Senator and 2013 LP senatorial bet Jun Magsaysay and incumbent Zambales first district Congresswoman and 2013 PDP-Laban/United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial bet Mitos Magsaysay. Euologio is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P25.92 million (2012 SALN) and will again represent AVE in the 16th Congress.
The 1-BANAT & AHAPO Party-List Coalition’s (1-BAP) first nominee is Silvestre Bello III, a former official of the Aquino, Ramos and Arroyo administrations. Bello was former Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary and head of the government peace panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). He was also a former senatorial candidate and will now sit as representative of 1-BAP in the 16th Congress.
The Abakada-Guro (ABAKADA) claims to represent teachers. Its top nominee, incumbent Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, used to occupy administrative positions at the Ilocos Norte provincial government and counselor of Sen. Bongbong Marcos when he was still second district Congressman of Ilocos Norte. The group’s third nominee Rodolfo Tor is a retired PNP Police Director and former UN Police Commissioner while the second and fourth nominees, Alexander Lopez and Reynaldo Parungao, respectively, are both lawyers. For the 16th Congress, dela Cruz will represent ABAKADA.
Ang Mata’y Alagaan (AMA) claims to represent the blind and the vision-impaired. Its top nominee, Lorna Velasco, is the wife of Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco while the second and third nominees (Tricia Nicole Velasco-Catera and Vincent Michael Velasco, respectively) are their children. Lorna Velasco will represent the group in the 16th Congress.
The Ang National Coalition of Indigenous People’s Action Na! Inc. (ANAC-IP) claims to represent indigenous peoples. Its first nominee is Jose Panganiban Jr., former municipal Mayor of Angadanan in Isabela province. He was also the former President of the Isabela chapter of the League of Municipalities and will now sit as representative of ANAC-IP in the 16th Congress if proclaimed by the Comelec.
The AGBIAG! Timpuyog Ilocano Inc.’s (AGBIAG!) top nominee is incumbent Rep. Patricio Antonio who used to be the first district Congressman of Cagayan and is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of P67.87 million (2012 SALN). If proclaimed by the Comelec, he will make a comeback as a legislator in the 16th Congress as representative of AGBIAG!.
The APPEND Inc. has as top nominee Pablo Nava III who was a member of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) under the Aquino administration, sitting as private sector representative. He will now sit as representative of APPEND in the 16th Congress if proclaimed by the Comelec.
Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino (ALIF) claims to represent the indigenous people. Its top two nominees, Abdul and Agakhan Tomawis, are both sons of the group’s incumbent Rep. Acmad Tomawis, a multi-millionaire with a declared net worth of P18.56 million (2012 SALN). Acmad’s brother is Jerry Tomawis, administrator of the Southern Philippine Development Authority (SPDA). Two of Jerry’s children were involved in the multi-million Rasuman pyramiding scam in Lanao del Sur. Abdul Tomawis, if proclaimed by the Comelec, will represent ALIF in the 16th Congress.
The Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) is associated with Saranggani Congressman and wealthy boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. In the 2010 elections, PBA was among the top spenders among party-list groups with P80 million. Its top nominee, incumbent Rep. Mark Sambar is a multi-millionaire with a delcared net worth of P12.09 million (2012 SALN). For the 16th Congress, Sambar will again represent the group if proclaimed by the Comelec. (End)