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FCAP Protests Tobacco Industry-Backed Party-List Group

A NETWORK of anti-tobacco advocates is asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify a party-list organization, accusing it of being a front group for the powerful tobacco industry

In a letter addressed to Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP), an umbrella organization of groups and individuals from medical and professional organizations, faith-based youth and environmental groups involved in upholding tobacco control laws, opposed the candidacy of the Agrarian Development Association (ADA) whose nominees are closely identified with the tobacco industry.

ADA, a party-list group representing farmers, was accredited by the Comelec but lost during the last sectoral election, is again vying to get a seat in the 2013 elections. The party-list law requires that 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives should comprise of marginalized groups.

A check on the Comelec web site reveals the following ADA nominees: Eric Singson, Eric Singson Jr., Rodolfo Salanga, Blake Clinton Dy, Grace Kristine Singson Meehan and Victor Manuel Jr.

“The four nominees of ADA belong to the affluent, the influential and the powerful by reason of their individual or familial wealth or the political and economic ties they have honed and developed through the years. They are neither marginalized nor underrepresented. They are rich people who use the poor, marginalized sector, in the hope of gaining a seat in Congress,” said FCAP in its letter to the poll body.

Eric Singson was the former representative of Ilocos Sur’s Second District, while his son, Eric Singson Jr., is the incumbent representative of the same district. Salanga is a longtime president of the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI), while Dy operates the Anglo-American Tobacco Corp.

FCAP reminded the Comelec that Section 2 of Republic 7941, or the Party-List System Act, requires nominees of sectoral parties to “belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties.”

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