Dela Rosa urges Comelec to cancel registration of party-list groups with CPP 'links'

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Tuesday, September 10, asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to help end the communist insurgency in the country by canceling the registration of party-list groups with supposed links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Dela Rosa made the appeal during a discussion on amendments to Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, September 10.

The senator was questioning Comelec Commissioner Antonio Kho on what could be done to parties that were "obviously supporting" the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

"Sana, Comelec, magtutulungan tayo matapos ang problema na ito dahil itong mga party lists na ito, they'. Ginagamit nila ang pagpasok sa gobyerno para sirain ang gobyerno," Dela Rosa alleged.

(Comelec, I hope you can help us end this problem because these party lists, they're using democracy to destroy democracy. They're entering the government to destroy the government.)

Among the party-list groups Dela Rosa that referred to were progressive groups Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT Teachers, Kabataan, and Anakpawis.

Together, the groups make up the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives that have served as an opposition voice in the Duterte-dominated House. (Anakpawis failed to gain enough votes to get a seat in the 18th Congress.) (READ: Bayan Muna, 3 other Left groups defy red-tagging, keep House seats)

Kho, however, answered that if such allegations were true then a case can be filed before the poll body.

"Senator, if they are already a registered political party, anybody can file – I'm not encouraging to file – but there is a remedy provided under our rules to seek the cancellation of registered party list organizations if they violate certain provisions of the party List law," Kho said.

"If the petitioner can prove the grounds, Comelec will act on it," he added.

Dela Rosa then asked if the Comelec was acting on a petition filed last February seeking the cancellation of the registration of the 5 parties under the Makabayan bloc.

"Humihingi ako ng tulong sa inyo. Sana matapos natin na 'yung mga petition na finile na ito (I'm asking for your help. I hope we can resolve these petitions filed)," he said.

Kho said petitions for cancellation of party list registrations were filed but he was not at liberty to disclose if they involved the groups that Dela Rosa mentioned. Despite this, he gave assurances that groups facing such complaints will "be given opportunity to defend themselves...and dispute allegations raised by the petitioner in that case."

Members of the Makabayan bloc earlier decried the “vilification campaign” against them, saying security officials have yet to present evidence of their accusations. 

Dela Rosa had earlier requested the Commission on Human Rights to ask the NPA to “release” minors they allegedly recruited since the two groups were "closer."

President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to end the communist insurgency but attempts at peace talks with the communist party’s political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF) broke down two years into his term. Since then, Duterte and the government have resumed calling them "terrorists." – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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