POSTSCRIPT / October 21, 2012 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Akbayan marginalized? No, it is mainstream!

AKBAYAN: After three terms, or a total of nine years, of holding a seat in the House of Representatives and gorging on pork (barrel), a Party-list group should have no more reason to claim being marginalized.

If after that time, its sector is still marginalized, that Party-list group should stop representing it. Obviously it had failed to improve the lot of its sector. Where did the time and the millions go?

One PL that comes to mind is Akbayan. If only for that reason (of failing to rehabilitate the sector it claims to represent), it should be disqualified from running again as a PL group.

If Akbayan wants to stay in the House, aside from possibly grabbing another seat in the Senate, it should reinvent itself as a national party — no longer party-list — and join the regular race like the other political parties.

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ACID TEST: The Commission on Elections faces an acid test in resolving petitions for Akbayan’s disqualification on the basis of, among other reasons, its having been coopted by the Aquino administration and going mainstream.

I am tempted to agree with that. Akbayan appears to represent Malacañang, which is far from marginalized, impoverished, or deprived.

If the Comelec allows Akbayan to run as a party-list group, the poll body headed by Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. will have to allow other PLs of dubious qualifications.

The Akbayan members in the Executive branch include Chairman Etta Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights, board member Mario Aguio of the Government Service Insurance System, and chairman Joel Rocamora of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros is running for senator under the administration coalition.

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CRITERIA: As the Comelec deliberates on which PLs are to be allowed to run in the 2013 midterm elections, here are some thoughts on the matter:

After three terms, a PL should be disqualified. If it has succeeded in de-marginalizing its sector, then its job is done. If it has failed, it has no business staying on and collecting pork barrel, wasting taxpayers’ money and littering the House.

The name that a PL uses should be descriptive of the sector it claims to represent. Only one PL should be allowed to represent one sector.

The PL nominees must show that they are one with the marginalized sector. The Comelec must have clear guidelines/criteria to determine if the PL truly represents a sector and to show its nominees come from that sector and have no partisan connections.

Not all sectors claiming to be marginalized merit special PL representation. Many minority sectors are already embraced or represented by regular congressmen and senators.

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BUMPER CROP: Nobody can tell yet how many PLs will be allowed on the ballot. The Comelec is still screening the bumper crop of applicant groups.

In the May  2010 elections there were 187 groups, organizations or coalitions in the PL certified list of candidates. Three PLs (Young Pinoys, Hapi and UMDJ ) failed to participate or submit manifestations of intent.

Twenty-nine PLs failed to obtain sufficient votes in the two preceding elections.

The last time we saw the list, there were 125 PLs still there, with 155 new ones seeking accreditation after seeing that it is more fun as a PL in the House.

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SAN PEDRO: The Philippines is blessed to have contributed one of the seven servants of God who will be recognized as saints in canonization rites today led by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

The second Filipino to be canonized is Blessed Pedro Calungsod who gave his life for the faith on April 2, 1672. Born in 1654, the lay catechist was killed while doing missionary work in Guam.

Two Chamorro chiefs went after the missionaries when they learned that Fr. Diego Jose Luis San Vitores, a Jesuit, had baptized a chief’s daughter without his consent. Pedro stood to protect Father San Vitores, but both of them were killed.

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MODEL TO YOUTH: Pope John Paul II, himself a blessed, beatified Pedro on March 5, 2000, moving him one step nearer to sainthood. He will be the second Filipino saint after San Lorenzo Ruiz.

“From his childhood, Pedro Calungsod declared himself unwaveringly for Christ and responded generously to his call,” said John Paul II in his homily when he beatified him and others in 2000.

He said: “Young people today can draw encouragement and strength from the example of Pedro, whose love of Jesus inspired him to devote his teenage years to teaching the faith as a lay catechist.”

“In a spirit of faith, marked by strong Eucharistic and Marian devotion, Pedro undertook the demanding work asked of him and bravely faced the many obstacles and difficulties he met,” the Pope added.

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CELEBRATION: Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson of the Cebu archdiocese said Pedro was the first to be attacked in the assault by Chamorros.

“They marveled at how he was so skillful in evading the darts of the spears,” the archbishop said. “When finally he was hit in the chest, he fell, whereupon his attackers bashed his skull.”

The Church in the Philippines has set a nine-year spiritual program, starting on the date of Pedro’s canonization, and lasting until March 2021.

The Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said parishes, youth organizations and religious groups will hold activities today. Youths will gather at the St. Niño de Tondo parish for a program from 2:30 to 7 p.m. followed by a Mass at 8 p.m. Another group has organized an event titled “San Pedro 10.21” at the San Juan Arena in San Juan City from 1:30 to 6 p.m.

The canonization will be beamed to the Philippines via satellite feed in real time. In Cebu, the Commission on Youth of the Archdiocese of Cebu and the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City, together with the city administration, are inviting people to watch a live telecast.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 21, 2012)

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