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Aquino sisters gave P14M to Akbayan

The three sisters of President Benigno Aquino III contributed P14 million out of the P112 million campaign kitty of the Akbayan party-list group during the 2010 elections, but a Palace spokesman said Thursday there was nothing wrong with the contributions. “We have a democratic process. The sisters are, and continue up to this day as, private citizens. They have a right to contribute to a group they feel which would also support the President’s program of anti-corruption and poverty alleviation,” Lacierda said. “It should not come as a surprise that being private citizens, they choose to support groups which are supportive of the advocacies of the President,” he added. Kris Aquino, the President’s youngest sister, gave P10 million, making her Akbayan’s biggest contributor, while Ballsy Cruz and Viel Dee gave P2 million each. Political groups accounted for P5.2 million while the P106.9 million came from various individuals, including National Anti-Poverty Commission head Joel Rocamora who gave P1 million and Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello who gave P1.4 million. Lacierda also attacked Bayan Muna, which wants Akbayan disqualified from next year’s party-list elections because several of its members are already in key government positions. “Is Bayan Muna claiming to represent the marginalized sector effectively? I don’t believe so,” he said. He said the government’s multi-billion-peso dole program reached “the poorest of the poor” yet Bayan Muna opposed it. Lacierda said the government, including officials affiliated with Akbayan, is doing its best to address the concerns of the marginalized sectors. “So is there a monopoly? Can they be considered as over-represented? I don’t think so,” Lacierda said. “I think we should have more representatives to address their concerns, and we certainly ask the Commission on Elections to be even handed in applying the rules in disqualifying or in qualifying a certain group as representative of a marginalized sector,” he said. Akbayan on Thursday lamented news reports that highlighted Akbayan’s campaign funds and expenditures during the 2010 elections, saying they were being used to raise doubts about its legitimacy as a party-list organization. “We would like to clarify that Akbayan’s election contributions and expenditures were submitted to the Commission on Elections in June of 2010, and, thus, were accounted for by the appropriate authorities,” said Barry Gutierrez, Akbayan national spokesman. “This has likewise been available to members of the press. Because we are committed to the principles of transparency and accountability in government, Akbayan gave a full disclosure of the donations we received.” “Akbayan’s campaign during the 2010 elections was funded mainly by contributions from individuals who believed in Akbayan’s reform platform and partnership with then Senator and Liberal Party presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. To be exact, 95 percent of our funds are donations or contributions from other persons. We ensured that the contributions did not come from illegal, unscrupulous, or tainted sources. Unlike our accusers from the extreme left, contributions to Akbayan’s electoral campaign did not come from illegal ‘taxes’ forcible extracted from logging and mining companies under pain of their installations and equipment being burned and their personnel harmed,” the Akbayan statement said. Of the total campaign expenditures, Gutierrez said radio and television advertisements received the biggest share of disbursements, amounting to over 90 percent. These advertisements promoted Akbayan as a partner of Liberal Party presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino, he added. “All our expenses are duly accounted for, and our total expenditures match the total contributions that we received. In short, we earned not even a single centavo from these contributions. These contributions simply allowed us to run a more effective national campaign that ensured the continued representation of the interests of the marginalized within the corridors of government.” The group said the contributions did not “take away the character of Akbayan as a party-list that represents the interests of the marginalized.” In the 2010 elections, Akbayan’s campaign contributions of P112 million far surpassed those of other party-list groups such as Kabataan, with P12.1 million; Garbriela with P1.7 million; Bayan Muna, with P1.26 million; and Anakpawis with P750,000.
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