MANILA - A labor party-list group has asked the Supreme Court to reverse its disqualification from the midterm elections in May, fearing it may be excluded from the ballots to be printed next week.
MANGGAGAWA Party-list filed a petition on Friday claiming the Commission on Elections en banc gravely abused its discretion when it disqualified the group in December after it failed to mention in its application for registration that it is “not an adjunct or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by the Government.”
Elmer “Bong” Labog, national president and first nominee of the group, called the Comelec ruling an “overzealous” interpretation and enforcement of the poll body’s rules “to the point of denying a legitimate organization of the marginalized from participating in the elections.”
“Sa pagsilang pa lang ng aming organisasyon, malinaw pa sa sikat ng araw na walang pondong nanggagaling sa mga nakaraang at sa kasalukuyang gobyerno,” he told reporters after filing of the petition.
(At the birth of our organization, it was clear as day that none of our funds were from previous or present governments.)
“Malinaw na nanggaling sa mga union dues ang mga pondong ginagamit namin sa bawat organisasyon namin. Kaya walang saysay, walang sapat na tungtungan ‘yung naging batayan upang kami ay hindi palahukin sa darating na eleksiyon,” he added.
(It's clear that funds for all our organizations are from union dues. That's why their reasoning for not letting us join the election is nonsensical and unfounded.)
In its 9-page petition, the labor group said that it already explained that it does not receive any support from any organization, whether directly or indirectly, for partisan political activities.
“After all, if petitioner does not receive any support from any organization, it follows that it is not a project or entity funded or assisted by the government,” read the petition, adding that it even attached documents to show that MANGGAGAWA Party-list group is a non-governmental organization.
The group said Comelec should have adopted a liberal construction of its rules.
Labog warned that about a million Filipino workers stand to lose representation if MANGGAGAWA Party-list is not included in the list of eligible party-list organizations, which the Comelec is set to release on January 23.
“Malalaki pong sector ang dala-dala namin. Kasama po dito ang Migrante, ang mga manggagagawa sa transportasyon, kasama ang malawak na bilang ng mga maralitang taga-lungsod sa ilalim ng Kadamay at ang malaking bilang ng Kilusang Mayo Uno,” he said.
(We bring with us a huge sector. This includes Migrante, workers in the transportation industry, the urban poor under Kadamay, and a large number of Kilusang Mayo Uno.)
Labog lamented that while real marginalized groups like them are being disqualified by the Comelec, bogus party-list groups are allowed to run.
The 1987 Constitution allocated half of the seats for party-list representatives in Congress to labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, among others, for the first 3 consecutive terms after its ratification.
Labog said they have asked the high court to issue a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order to compel Comelec to retain MANGGAGAWA Party-list’s name in the list of eligible party-list organizations and to include it in the ballots for printing.
The group said it will return to the SC on Tuesday, during its weekly en banc session, to call on the justices to act on their plea.