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"Ako Bicol" to Vie in 2010 Party List Elections

NAGA CITY, June 3 (PNA) --- A regional political party known as Ako Bicol is vying in the forthcoming party-list elections in May 2010.

Ako Bicol officials were even optimistic that Bicolano voters would support and vote for the homegrown political group.

Arthur Monares, president of Ako Bicol, said the group would primarily focus on laws that improve the livelihood, education and health of Bicolanos and non-Bicolanos alike.

Monares said that Ako Bicol was counting on the votes of the more than 2.5 million registered Bicolano voters.

"We are confident the Bicolanos will not hesitate to support their own homegrown party list group in the 2010 elections," he said.

During the 2007 elections, about 1.9 million of the 2.5 million registered voters in the six Bicol provinces, cast their votes in the elections, Monares said.

Joshua Martinez Jr., Ako Bicol deputy secretary-general for Operations and Media Affairs, said that given this region-wide voters turnout, Ako Bicol, if supported and voted by Bicolanos, could win the maximum number of three seats in Congress as provided for by Republic act (RA) No. 7941.

Under RA 7941, or "The Party-List System Act," party-list groups receiving at least two percent of the total votes cast for the party-list system are entitled to one seat each in the House of Representatives. Groups that gathered more than two percent of the votes are entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes, but not to exceed three seats.

Martinez said the idea behind the formation of Ako Bicol was a result of the havoc wrought by super typhoon "Reming" to the Bicol region and in the lives of its people.

Martinez said that immediately after "Reming" hit Albay province,relief assistance to Albayano typhoon victims started pouring in from their Bicolanos from Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte even if they also suffered from the wrath of the super typhoon. This happened before outside help began coming in.

Prior to the formation of the regional political party, the Albay-based organization composed of traders, professionals, farmers, fishermen and other individuals from various sectors, led efforts in assisting typhoon victims rebuild their lives.

It also provided scholarships and food allowances to hundreds of poor but deserving Bicolano students.

When asked where Ako Bicol is getting money to bankroll its political plans, Dennis Batocabe, the group's deputy secretary-general for administration and finance, said funds come from the contributions of its members.(PNA)