Akbayan actually received ₱18 million in campaign funds for the 2010 elections from President Aquino’s relatives. RG Cruz of ABS-CBN News reported that Akbayan, which is facing disqualification complaints before the Commission on Elections (Comelec), received ₱14 million from presidential sisters Kris (₱10 million), Ballsy (₱2 million) and Viel (₱2 million). But Akbayan also received funds from Viel’s husband Richard Dee (₱3 million) and Aquino’s maternal relatives from the Lopa family (₱1 million). Thus, the total amount that Akbayan directly received from presidential relatives could reach at least ₱18 million.
(See Table below)
Another ₱1 million came from a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cory and Ninoy Aquino Foundation (NCAF), Daniel Lichauco. As Cruz reported, Aquino family friend and presidential appointee Margie Juico, chair of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), gave another ₱1 million. So that puts the amount contributed to Akbayan by people with direct ties to Pres. Aquino at ₱20 million, a staggering sum by any standard, and especially so in a party-list standard.
Download the full list of Akbayan’s 2010 campaign contributors
It’s safe to assume that there are other rich family friends of the Aquinos who contributed to Akbayan’s 2010 election war chest because of the group’s ties to the then presidential bet. There’s no way that a truly under-represented and marginalized party-list group could have raised a total of ₱112.18 million in campaign funds for a single election, even higher than the declared funds of the Nacionalista Party (NP), pegged at ₱80 million. NP is a major political party that the law bars from participating in party-list elections.
Note likewise that Akbayan officials, who supposedly come from marginalized sectors, have also contributed millions of pesos in campaign funds for the group’s 2010 electoral bid. Akbayan representative Walden Bello, for instance, donated ₱1.4 million on top of another ₱2 million that he loaned for Akbayan’s campaign funds. Former Akbayan president Joel Rocamora, appointed by Aquino as head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) also contributed ₱1 million. Kayrami namang pera ng mga taong ito.
In a statement, Akbayan argued that the campaign contributions did not come from “illegal, unscrupulous, or tainted sources.” And as usual, when faced with an issue it could not confront head on, Akbayan resorted to red-baiting and accused its critics of using NPA (New People’s Army) revolutionary taxes from mining and logging companies for their electoral campaign. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, who it seems is also moonlighting as Akbayan spokesperson, defended the campaign contributions saying that the Aquino sisters, as private citizens, have a right to contribute to Akbayan for supporting the President.
But again, Akbayan and Malacañang are missing, or more likely, sidetracking the real issue. The point is not whether the sources of Akbayan’s campaign funds are illegal or not. The simple fact that a significant amount of their 2010 electoral spending was directly bankrolled by the Aquino family further bolsters the argument that they do not represent the under-represented and marginalized. How can they claim to represent the farmers when Akbayan is being funded by one of the country’s richest and most powerful landlord families? How can Akbayan claim to fiscalize Aquino on the issue of land reform when the president’s family bankrolled their electoral campaign?
Even their claim that their track record is their best defense will not hold water. Their favorite showcase of supposed legislative triumph, the Carper or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms, is not facilitating the massive redistribution of farm lands in the possession of big landlords, but quite the contrary. Case in point is Hacienda Luisita, wherein Carper legitimized the otherwise immoral claim of Akbayan’s biggest patron – the Aquino family – for a “just compensation” worth billions of pesos even after squeezing the farmers dry for decades by owning the land that was never rightfully theirs. Even the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which supported Carper, is complaining the very slow progress in land acquisition and distribution under the Aquino administration.
Really, the best defense that Akbayan could muster to answer the string of controversies it is facing is cheap, baseless propaganda directly copied from the “Palparan Handbook on Red-baiting.” The primary source of RG Cruz’s report was an official Comelec document. To respond to it by maliciously claiming that NPA revolutionary taxes are being used as campaign funds by their critics is outrageously reckless amid the continuing extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances of political activists from people’s organizations tagged as communist fronts by the military.
Backed into a corner, Akbayan has become more vicious in its red-baiting. But while further exposing its true colors as a mouthpiece of the status-quo and an advocate of the bloody military campaign against people who are truly working for the under-represented and marginalized, Akbayan has yet to give a convincing answer to the legitimate question that even the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has raised – marginalized at under-represented ba kayo? ###