Party-list blues

Party-list blues

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

The late Butil Party representative Ka Nellie Chavez did so many things in her life in a great and quiet way, mostly for the coop movement and the peasantry. But what she was proudest of was rejecting the legal ordure called the Con-Ass. On the day she refused to sign that trash of a resolution. She had this feeling that a heavy cross had been lifted off the country.

How many of the self-proclaimed oppositionists in the House had mustered the same courage? Not counting the party-list groups with the Left, only Ka Nellie was the only party-list rep with the silent courage to reject the Con-ass.

But for some self-proclaimed do-gooders and pundits who do not live in the real world, that silent heroism displayed at a critical point of our political history meant nothing.

A few days before the election, these self-proclaimed crusaders for good politics included Butil in the list of party-list groups supposedly allied with the Arroyo administration, party-list groups identified as overly subservient to the Arroyo administration. This is all bunk, of course, given our Con-Ass vote. The Con- Ass vote separated those with principles and those without—it drew the line between those willing to perpetuate an unwanted regime in power and those unwilling to condone such travesty.

In the intense debates by the Council of Leaders of Butil, there was always this bent to do what is for the best interest of the peasantry and what is good for the country—not a sad regurgitation of mendicancy and subservience.

A simple act of fact-checking would have cleared the issue of subservience against Butil. But the supposed crusaders/pundits who warned the voters against Butil were either of two things: too lazy to fact check or too fat to make the elementary movement of Googling the phrase “subservience to the Arroyo administration.”

Of course the vilest of attacks from the lazy cannot, in any way, trump the truth. Butil, which evolved from a peasant group we registered in the early 80s (even before the word party-list existed), won.

The travails of party-list groups, of course, do not end with the conventional wisdom spewed by lazy pundits and fake crusaders for good government, who treat scurrilous e-mails sent to them as gospels of truth. There are others, and some are worse off than being attacked for no reason at all.

Party leaders and members expelled for various reasons pose a greater threat to legitimate party-list groups. And this is precisely the thing that is holding our proclamation as a party-list winner now.

I do not know how many party-list groups are in the same dilemma—in which expelled leaders and members—invoking phony legitimacy and using the party registration—present a separate set of party-list nominees other than the legitimate one to the Commission on Election to confuse the Comelec. In our case, our party-list had been excluded from the initial list of proclaimed party-list groups by that and a great harm has been done.

What I know is that we are the party that truly represents the peasantry in a legitimate and profound way, the party that assists in production, in the provision of technical assistance, scholarship grants to children of poor farmers who are too poor to go to college, and even medical assistance to farm families too poor to get medical treatment. All of these services will be put on hold in July, if Comelec does not render a quick and just judgment on appeal to reject the usurpers.

For the record, we are also the first party-list group to advocate a major agricultural program of the president-elect, Noynoy Aquino, which is to put to productive use some one million idle and underutilized farmland via public and private support.

We are also the first party-list group to advocate a P5 billion starting fund for agricultural research and development (R and D).

On a higher level, the Come-lec should deal with pretenders and poseurs with urgency. A second set of nominee does not usually come from people with the real right to engage in intra-party disputes. They come from sour grapes, expelled leaders and members and even outright pretenders.

The Comelec will not violate any code of laws or basic human rights if such naked attempts from poseurs and pretenders to ride on the hard work of legitimate party-list leaders to secure party list representation are rejected outright and exposed for what they are.

A Comelec resolve to dispose of these nuisance cases with both urgency, justice and fairness will not only help the legitimate party list representatives under assault from pretenders. The other big boost is to the constituencies of the legitimate party-list reps. In our case, these are farmers that are being literally situated between the deep sea and the hard rock: El Niño this season and La Niña the next.

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