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‘Unaccredited’ Labor Party list group FFW
assails COMELEC decision

April 21, 2010

Party list group Free Workers (FFW) lambasted the Commission on Elections for not accrediting the group and declaring that votes cast in their favor will be considered stray.

“To say that the FFW has no track record, non-existent and does not represent labor, as a marginalized sector means that the COMELEC did not do its homework,” said Atty. Allan Montaño, National President of the FFW.

COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez was quoted in news items saying that unaccredited party list groups (including the FFW) failed to prove their constituencies, membership strengths and affiliation with a marginalized sector. “If you vote for them, your votes will be (considered) stray,” Jimenez said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

“This is preposterous. The FFW will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in June as one of the oldest and largest labor federations in the country,” Montaño claimed. “FFW is a duly registered labor federation and recognized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). All its nominees are union presidents of legitimate labor organization and proven labor leaders.”

“The COMELEC made reckless pronouncements resulting from their gross incompetence and serious negligence of their duties. As a result workers will suffer the consequences,” said Montaño.

Gross incompetence

“COMELEC’s gross ignorance of the law made it think that their decision is unassailable and could not be elevated to the Supreme Court through a petition for certiorari,” explained Montaño.

“The damage has been done as the COMELEC pronouncement caused confusion among members and ardent supporters of the FFW,” added Montaño. “This will make the task of campaigning for the FFW doubly difficult as we have to explain to the electorate the implications and consequences of such erroneous pronouncements.”

No prior information

“The COMELEC didn’t even have the courtesy to inform us of their decision prior to announcing it to the media,” lamented Montaño. “We would have felt respected if they advised us of their decision on our case before others knew about it.”

“As a result, we can’t even file a petition with the Supreme Court at this moment since we have not received a copy of their decision,” said Montaño.

“Definitely, the FFW will consider all types of action within its rights to knock some sense into the COMELEC,” declared Montaño.

Supporting documents

The FFW submitted to the election body 91 documents and 37 recent official communications from government, various civil society groups and international organizations to beef up its claim of legitimacy and representation of the marginalized.

Among others, the FFW has been engaged by the DOLE and its attached agencies, the Committee on Labor and Employment of both Houses of Congress, the International Labor Organization and even the World Bank. The academe, research institutions and employers groups also recognize the FFW as representative of workers.

Montaño said the FFW complied with all the requirements ahead of the deadline. FFW filed a petition for accreditation on July 30, 2009—18 days before the extended deadline. The FFW published its petition as required by the Commission. It also filed an intent to participate in the party-list elections on Nov. 30. It also submitted a formal offer of evidence backing their claims within 24 hours of the hearing set by the COMELEC for its accreditation.

“The COMELEC sat on the petition and did not act on it in a timely manner. We even filed two separate urgent motions with the COMELEC to act on our petition,” said Montaño. “We would have had more time to bring our case to the Supreme Court, and more importantly, to explain the issue to our members.”

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