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MANILA, Philippines - Groups led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) have recently asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) through a letter to disqualify the Akbayan partylist group from joining next year's elections.
Akbayan "cannot claim to be marginalized and underrepresented" because it is "well-entrenched" in the government, according to petitioners KMU, Anakbayan partylist, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, National Union of Students in the Philippines, and the Kabataang Artista Para sa Tunay na Kalayaan
The groups claim that Akbayan "is already overrepresented in the Aquino government, yet it still wants to win seats in the House of Representatives."
According to Anakbayan, the rules on the partylist system have been clarified by the 2001 Supreme Court decision of Ang Bagong Bayani. [See letter of the groups to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes.]
"Not only does it reiterate the need for partylist representatives to belong to ‘margnalized’ sectors, it also explicitly forbids the likes of Akbayan from participating,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
The high court in the decision, "laid out an eight-point guideline on the qualifications for those parties and candidates participating in the partylist race," Anakbayan said.
In the guideline, the high court said partylist nominees must belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors and that partylist groups must not be “an adjunct of, or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by, the government.”
Singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon, among Akbayan's founding members, has defended the party-list group's track record.
He said Akbayan continues to represent the interest of the marginalized.
"In its 14 years of existence, Akbayan has weathered through numerous storms, some of which would threaten its very existence, the most recent being the dark era of the Arroyo presidency. And yet, Akbayan is still in Congress. I believe that is proof of the public’s trust in Akbayan," Cabangon said.