Comelec backs bid to cancel Gabriela party-list registration

By Benjamin Pulta

December 3, 2020, 11:20 pm

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has upheld a government anti-insurgency body’s petition seeking cancellation of the Gabriela Women’s Party’s registration in the party-list system for violations of the election law and the Constitution.

In an order dated November 27 and signed by presiding Commissioner Socorro B. Inting, the Comelec's Second Division ruled that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) "has the legal standing to file" a petition to void the registration of Gabriela Women’s Party for receiving foreign government funding and supporting terrorists’ activities.

The NTF-ELCAC, which was created under Executive Order No. 70 adopting a whole-of-approach against insurgency, also named Gabriela, Inc. and General Assembly of Women for Reforms as respondents in its petition filed before the Comelec in May last year.

The poll body’s ruling, however, does not yet resolve the main case brought by the government's petition against the respondents.

Section 8 of the Rule 32 of the Comelec Rules of Procedures provides that upon verified complaint of any interested party “registration of any political party under the party-list system may be cancelled after due notice and hearing on the following grounds,” including acceptance of financial contributions from foreign governments and/or their agencies for activities related to elections.

The case stemmed from the document entitled “Overview of Non-Government Actors in the Philippines-Program 2017-2021,” shared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium to Philippine delegates during a meeting in Brussels in February 2019.

“Said document revealed that the Belgian Government, through its accredited non-government organizations (NGOs) particularly G3W, also known as Viva Salud, funded the respondents,” the petitioner said.

It also cited the report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, that from 2012 to 2016, the respondents received more or less PHP22.7 million.

“Respondent’s act is a blatant and direct violation of the Constitution which prohibits, in no uncertain and equivocal trend and qualifications, political parties, coalitions of political parties or organizations from receiving support from any foreign government,” the NTF-ELCAC said.

The NTF-ELCAC added that the respondents have violated the Constitution for their “acts of helping and supporting a declared terrorist organization”, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

At the same time, the petition cited the sworn statement of Edison Coloma Villanueva attesting that the Gabriela Party-list supports the outlawed advocacies and principles of the NPA.

“What is more revealing, Villanueva, in his salaysay (testimony), states that Gabriela utilizes its funds for the procurement of firearms and ammunitions for the CPP-NPA.,” it said.

“Since the CPP-NPA has been declared as a Terrorist Organization, through Proclamation No. 374, s. 2017 under Republic Act No. 10168, and having also been declared as a Terrorist Organization by the United States of America through Public Notice 9768 and the European Union Council Decision, Common Foreign and Security Policy dated August 4, 2017, respondents acts of helping and supporting a declared terrorist organization is violative of the Constitution, and are clearly advocating and or using violence and other unlawful means to advance their goals,” the petition added.

The CPP-NPA-NDF is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)