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Rough Cuts: The proliferation of Partylist groups

This one is something for the books.

We mean this news about the Municipality of Jose Abad Santos (JAS), a municipality in Davao Occidental, declaring the rebel New People’s Army (NPA) as persona non grata.

The declaration was made through Council Resolution 04-2019 that JAS mayor Jason John Joyce signed and was disclosed to the public by Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesman of the 10th Infantry Division during the AFP-PNP press forum in a local hotel.

What made the JAS Municipal Council declare the NPA persona non grata?  Isn’t it that a declaration of one person, organization, or entity as a persona non grata premised on the fact that he/she, they have been accorded certain concessions or favor?

Does this act of the municipality an admission that it has, one way or the other, given accommodation to the rebels to make their operation in that Davao Occidental town relatively unhampered thus creating a “debt of gratitude” situation to the local government on the part of the rebels?

How come the LGU of JAS consider the rebels to have no “utang na loob” if it has not “extended” such?

We suspect that the members of the JAS Municipal Council may have erroneously used the terminology.

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In Davao City we have noted that there are at least some five Partylist groups most advertised in public places like walls, tree trunks, electric and communications poles and even in some house frontage. Leading in the most number of posters installed are the PBA, the ACT-CIS of gutsy journalist Mon Tulfo, Dumper, a group that is apparently the first time to surface, May Pag-asa, Coop NATCO, and ACT Teachers.

One Partylist group we are at a loss trying to figure out the sector it wants to represent, is Dumper.  From the root of the word it means something to dispose of.  So who or what constitutes the sector of the Philippine population Dumper wants to represent?

Per provision of the 1987 Constitution that allows the creation of Partylist groups, their nominees are to represent their supposedly under-represented sectors in the national legislature. Unfortunately, based on the number of Partylist groups now accredited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and already included in the ballots, it appears that the poll body is convinced that a much bigger number of the population are denied representation by  the congressmen and women elected from mainstream parties.

It can also be easily noted that most Partylists included in the ballots for the May 13, 2019 elections are creations of vested interest groups like businessmen, sportsmen, corporate and large plantation owners, and political clans who want to expand their base and tighten their grip on their turfs. Even organizations that are ideologically against the government system in place in the country are now able to get into mainstream politics by “Partylisting” their sector.

How some of the accredited Partylist groups that are clearly creations of aspiring politicians are able to circumvent the constitutional requirements to enroll in the Partylist system, we have no idea.

We only have a suspicion that the crafters of the Constitution who were at that time already in politics, or aspiring to be into, may have deliberately provided the “tiny loopholes” wherein skirting can be made possible.

That is why today, the Partylist groups are sprouting like mushrooms. And they are even aggressive in posting campaign materials more massively than the candidates with long-standing parties like the NP, the LP, the Lakas-NUCD, the NPC and others.

We can only hope that they are true to their declared intentions.

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