The Mikey Arroyo-represented Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) party-list has been formally disqualified from running in next year’s elections along with media group Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM). The disqualification was confirmed Tuesday by Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez. Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. earlier said they have disqualified AGP for its failure to appear during the hearings for party-list accreditation. But on Monday, he said AGP was disqualified this time "based on merits." “Hindi na lang ‘yung technicality. We’re resolving it on the merits, na hindi talaga sila qualified,” he said. With a net worth of over P95 million, Arroyo, son of former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is among the wealthiest party-list representatives in the 15th Congress. He first served as second district representative of Pampanga from 2001 to 2009 before his stint as party-list representative.
The younger Arroyo has come under criticism for being a part of the AGP group, which claims to represent tricycle drivers and security guards. In 2010, a tricycle driver from Caloocan City named Danilo Antipasado asked the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal to disqualify AGP and Arroyo from the party-list race. The case reached the Supreme Court, which eventually decided that Arroyo could represent the group. Meanwhile, Brillantes, in radio reports, said ALAM is disqualified because it doesn’t have a track record prior to seeking the accreditation to run in the 2013 elections. ALAM had earlier filed a complaint against the poll body for allegedly asking P3 million in exchange for its accreditation in next year's elections. Upon investigation, it was found out that two utility workers from the Comelec, claiming to be working for Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, were behind the alleged solicitation. The Comelec sacked the two, while ALAM cleared the two officials. At that time, ALAM was already disqualified in the second division headed by Tagle and Yusoph. In the May 2010 polls, 187 organizations took part in the party-list system. Since then, 98 groups have been disqualified or de-listed from participating in next year's race, including AGP.
Before this, the Comelec had disqualified six party-list groups that have sitting representatives in the 15th Congress: regional party-list group Ako Bicol; APEC and 1-CARE, which claims to represent electricity consumers; Aangat Tayo, which represents urban poor, women, elderly and youth; and Kakusa (Kapatiran ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala), which is headed by convicted rapist and former lawmaker Romeo Jalosjos. Also disqualified were registered party-list groups Bantay, AGRI, AKMA-PTM, AKO AGILA, AKO BAHAY, PACYAW, PM MASDA, COFA, ARARO, KATUTUBO and OPO. All took part in the 2010 elections. The Comelec has also cancelled the accreditation of three new applicants — RAM GUARDIANS, Alyansa para sa Demokrasya, and Association of Airline and Airport Workers. ALAM was the fourth new registrant axed from the elections.
The party-list system, legislated under Republic Act 7941, aims to open the House of Representatives to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors. Brillantes previously said they are cleansing the party-list system from
those who abused the mechanism’s intent. “We’re applying the rules strictly as we want to interpret it strictly…
Na-abuso ito noong 2010. Gusto naming linisin ito in preparation for 2016,” he said.
— Marc Jayson Cayabyab/KBK, GMA News