Sunday, October 18, 2009

Migrante Canada denounces decision to prevent Migrante Sectoral Party from participating in 2010 elections

Press Release
October 16, 2009
Toronto, Canada

Migrante Canada denounces in the strongest possible terms the decision of the Commission on Elections [COMELEC] to delist the Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) from the list of registered organizations vying in next year’s party-list election in the Philippines.

“This COMELEC decision is unjust and anomalous,” says Marco Luciano, Migrante International Global Council representative for Canada. “Not only is it a violation of due process leading to the disenfranchisement of a group that has truly served the interests of Filipino migrant workers and their families the world over. It opens the door for the Malacanang-backed party-list groups to dominate the coming party-list election, thus serving the ruling administration’s objective of prolonging its rule.”

What ever happened to due process?

In its Resolution No. 8679 issued October 13, 2009, the COMELEC en banc ordered to delete Migrante and 25 other groups “from the list of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions” citing Section 6, item No. 8 of the Republic Act 7941 otherwise known as the Party-List System Act.

This particular section of the Party-List System Act allows the COMELEC to motu propio - "on its own impulse" - remove a sectoral group or party BUT ONLY “after due notice and hearing” if “it fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections OR fails to obtain at least two percentum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections.”

However, the MSP was never guilty of such failures in two preceding elections - in 2004 and 2007.

The MSP participated in the 2004 partylist election, but, unfortunately, failed to garner the required 2% of the votes cast. Then the MSP did not participate in the 2007 election after formally informing the COMELEC months before the election. The failure to gain the two percentum of votes happened only once - in 2004 - not twice, not in two preceding elections; and the "failure" to participate in the election happened only once - in 2007 - not twice, not in two preceding elections. It is therefore erroneous, if not malicious, for the COMELEC to delist the MSP and other sectoral groups on the basis of Section 6, Item 8 of RA 7941.

“Moreover, the COMELEC’s en banc decision is tantamount to suppressing the rights of a party that seeks nothing but to represent in the House of Representatives the millions of Filipino migrants all over the world,” Luciano adds. The MSP announced in September its intention to run again in the party-list election, cognizant of “existing policies and laws that are detrimental to the interest of migrant Filipinos and in order for Overseas Filipino Workers [OFWs] to be represented by their own partylist.”

“Why disenfranchise the MSP which has been in the forefront of helping many distressed OFWs and their families since its formation in 1996?” says Luciano, noting the courageous work of Migrante and its allied organizations in many parts of the world.

If the COMELEC wants to unload itself of election work next year, they should have made efforts to get rid of many sham party-list groups, like Bantay and Kasangga, supportive of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime while masquerading as representatives of the marginalized sectors. Let the axe fall on these bogus groups, but not on the Migrante Sectoral Party which truly represents the interest of the Filipino migrants.

“We call on all Filipino migrants around the world to condemn the COMELEC’s unjust decision,” Jonathan Canchela, chair of the Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement [FMWM], said in a separate statement.

“We encourage them to voice out their opinions against this oppressive decision delisting the MSP from the list of qualified sectoral groups hoping to participate in the electoral process next year. Let the dissenting voices of the Filipino migrants be heard,” says Canchela, who also announced that FMWM and other Migrante Canada member organizations are planning to launch consolidated protest actions in response to this decision of the COMELEC.«

Jonathan Canchela – Tel: +1 647.833.1023

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