LOOK: Political dynasties use party list as backdoor to Congress

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will spend the next few weeks assessing the applications of party-list groups seeking to join the 2019 polls.

From October 11 to 17, 185 groups filed with the Comelec their certificates of nomination and their nominees’ certificates of acceptance, hoping to get seats in the House of Representatives – specifically, 20% of the House seats, as provided in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the Constitution's intent that the party list is not only for the marginalized sectors. (READ: Fixing the party list) 

Throughout the years, however, the system has become a backdoor or shortcut to the House for those who cannot run in the district elections.

The 2019 exercise is no different, as the list of nominees submitted to the Comelec shows people with familiar surnames, belonging to political dynasties, longtime politicians, and government officials. 

Alberto “Bobby” Pacquiao
1st nominee, OFW Family Club

Alberto “Bobby” Pacquiao, brother of Senator Manny Pacquiao, has been involved in politics since 2013, when he ran and won as a barangay (village) councilor. In 2016, he became a councilor in General Santos City. 

Prior to joining the government, Bobby worked as a professional boxer like Manny. 

OFW Family Club was established in 2000 by the late Roy Señeres Sr, labor attaché to Abu Dhabi during the 1980s.

Leyte Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez (in white blouse) lead other nominees of Tingog Sinirangan. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Leyte Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez (in white blouse) lead other nominees of Tingog Sinirangan.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Leyte Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez
1st nominee, Tingog Sinirangan

Leyte 1st District Representative Yedda Romualdez is the first nominee of Tingog Sinirangan. The group vows to introduce policies to benefit Eastern Visayas. 

She first became a legislator in 2016 – replacing her husband, Martin Romualdez, who eventually lost in his bid for a Senate seat. 

Husband and wife are both gunning for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2019 – with Yedda taking the party list route while Martin seeks to take over the Leyte congressional seat. 

Inang Bayan Party list nominees led by Gina de Venecia. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Inang Bayan Party list nominees led by Gina de Venecia.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Gina de Venecia
1st nominee, Inang Mahal

Former Pangasinan congresswoman Gina de Venecia is the first nominee of Inang Mahal party-list group, vowing to fight for policies benefiting Filipino mothers. 

De Venecia is the wife of former House speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. 

She previously served as Pangasinan 4th district representative from 2010 to 2016. Her son, Christopher de Venecia, replaced him in the position in 2016 and is seeking reelection in 2019.

Former Quezon City representative Mike Defensor, along with Emmanuel Andal and Adorlito Ginete, file their certificate of acceptance of nomination under Anakalusugan. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Former Quezon City representative Mike Defensor, along with Emmanuel Andal and Adorlito Ginete, file their certificate of acceptance of nomination under Anakalusugan.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Mike Defensor
2nd nominee, Anakalusugan

Long-time government official Mike Defensor now seeks a seat in the House of Representative as second nominee of Anakalusugan.

The group, according to its website, “advocates health issues in the country by pushing for implementation of health and wellness benefits and their inclusion in the government’s top social agenda.”  

Defensor served as Quezon City councilor from 1991 to 1995, and as 3rd district representative from 1995 to 2001, before joining the Cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

He first led the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the National Housing Authority before becoming  Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary from 2004 to 2006, and Malacañang chief of staff from 2006 to 2007.

He is the son of former QC representative Matias Defensor Jr.

Emelita Apostol Alvarez
1st nominee, Movement for Economic Transformation and Rights Opportunities (Metro)

Emelita Apostol Alvarez, the estranged wife of former House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, is the first nominee of the Movement for Economic Transformation and Rights Opportunities (Metro).  

Her nomination puts an end to speculations that she would run against her estranged husband for Davao del Norte 1st district representative.

She formerly headed the Congressional Spouses Foundation Incorporated. 

Evangelist Eddie Villanueva accompanies members of CIBAC at Comelec. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Evangelist Eddie Villanueva accompanies members of CIBAC at Comelec.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Eddie Villanueva
1st nominee, Citizen's Battle Against Corruption

Jesus is Lord (JIL) founder Eddie Villanueva is the first nominee of the Citizen's Battle Against Corruption (Cibac), which used to be represented by his son, now Senator Joel Villanueva.

The well-known evangelist seeks to battle corruption in the government if he gets to sit in the House of Representatives.

Villanueva is not new to elections. This is his 4th attempt after losing in both 2004 and 2010 presidential elections and the 2013 senatorial elections.  

Ciara Anna Sotto
2nd nominee, Luntiang Pilipinas

Ciara Sotto is the second nominee of Luntian Pilipinas, a group initially established in 1998 as an urban forestry program by Senator Loren Legarda.

She is the daughter of Senate President Vicente Sotto III and sister of Quezon City Councilor Gian Sotto, who is running for vice mayor in 2019.  

Rudys Ceasar G. Fariñas I
1st nominee, Probinsyano Ako

Rudys Fariñas I is the first nominee of Probinsyano Ako, a group seeking to represent Ilocanos in the House of Representatives. He is the son of former House majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas of the influential political clan in Ilocos Norte.

His sister, Ilocos Norte 1st district board member Ria Cristina Fariñas, is seeking seeks to replace her father in the Congress while his brother, Rodolfo Christian Fariñas III, filed his COC for provincial board member.

Rafael Louie Alunan
1st nominee, One Philippines

Rafael Alunan is the first nominee of One Philippines. He is the son of former interior secretary Raffy Alunanwho is also running for senator in the 2019 polls. 

with reports from Michael Bueza / Rappler.com

This article will be updated once the Comelec releases the official list of nominees.

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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