MANILA – National Security Adviser (NSA), Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., said women’s party-list group Gabriela is receiving financial assistance and support from foreign sources which is a clear violation of the Philippine Constitution.
This was part of Esperon’s testimony given via video teleconferencing before the 2nd Division of the Commission on Election (Comelec) on Aug. 12, in support of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) petition for the cancellation of registration of Gabriela Women's Party (GWP) and the General Assembly of Women and Reforms (GAWR) in the party-list system
Gabriela is short for General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action, Inc.
The NTF-ELCAC petition contends that Gabriela is violating Section 2, Paragraph 5, Article 9 (C) of the Philippine Constitution by receiving financial assistance from a foreign government and non-government organizations (NGOs).
Political parties found guilty of such offenses can have their registration with the Comelec canceled.
Also, Rule 32, Section 8 (D) of the Comelec Rules of Procedure states that receiving support from any foreign government is one of the grounds for the cancellation of the registration of any political party.
Esperon added that Gabriela is receiving Belgian financial support, through Belgian accredited NGOs that were subjected to external financial audit by international accounting firm Mazars that was contracted by the Belgian government to audit or review its 2014-2016 and 2017-2021 programs.
Mazar's report showed that Gabriela, together with Ibon Foundation and Karapatan are the local partners of Viva Salud VZW., a Belgian accredited NGO.
Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report, he said, shows that Viva Salud sent a remittance to Gabriela amounting to PHP1,811,867.35 on March 28, 2019, and six remittances from Intl. Fstone Ltd. of London, United Kingdom in amounts ranging from PHP1,058,392.42 to PHP2,190,628.52 from September 2015 to March 2019.
Esperon, who is also NTF ELCAC vice-chairperson, added that Gabriela, Inc, GWP, and GAWR are closely interconnected.
He said the past representatives to Congress of GWP were Incorporator(s) of Gabriela Inc. in their registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
"For example, Rep. Emerenciana de Jesus representing GWP in Congress for the period of 2016-2019 was also an Incorporator and Chairperson of Gabriela, Inc., for the period of 2013-2015," he added.
Esperon also noted that Representatives Liza Maza and Lana Linaban, all of GWP, were also Incorporators of Gabriela, Inc.
The GWP, he said, used the same acronym Gabriela in its 2016 Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) submitted to the Comelec and 2014-2015 General Information Sheet (GIS) with the SEC.
He also presented AMLC report stating that GABRIELA, GABRIELA, Inc., and GWP used their names interchangeably.
It was also noted that GWP representative, Congresswoman Emerenciana A. de Jesus, a Gabriela party-list member and chairperson of Gabriela, Inc., from 2013-2015, contributed a total of PHP930,000.00 to GWP during the 2019 national and local elections as shown in GWP’s 2019 SOCE.
To reiterate, she was also the representative to Congress under GWP from 2016 to 2019.
Esperon said the party-list group has willfully and deliberately circumvented the provisions of the Constitution and Comelec rules. (PNA)