Party-list ruling detrimental to marginalized–Sereno


Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno disagreed with the majority decision of the Supreme Court that opened the party-list system to national, regional and sectoral parties and organizations that do not represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

Sereno aired her views in a separate opinion after she and Justice Bienvenido Reyes were outvoted by 10 justices who granted the petitions for review of 54 party-list groups and set six new “parameters” that the Commission on Elections should observe when it rescreens the party-list groups.

“I believe the ponencia (majority decision) may have further marginalized the already marginalized and underrepresented of this country. In the guise of political plurality, it allows national and regional parties or organizations to invade what should be constitutional and statutorily protected space. [It] fails to appreciate that the party-list system is not about mere political plurality, but plurality with a heart for the poor and disadvantaged,” said Sereno in her 22-page opinion.

The Supreme Court public information office clarified the justices did not vote on each of the parameters. The PIO said the “votes” recorded in the case summary it released to the media pertained to the positions aired by the justices in the marginal notes beside their signatures on the main decision and on the separate opinions they wrote or supported.


Disagreeing with parameters

The Chief Justice disagreed with three of the parameters, particularly the second which opened the party-list system to national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations that do not represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

Sereno said the party-list system was “primarily a tool for social justice.” She said Republic Act No. 7941, or the Party-List System Act of 1995, was crafted in line with constitutional provisions (Section I, Article XIII) which mandates Congress to give highest priority to enacting measures that “reduce social, economic and political equalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.”

Social justice was the underlying philosophy of the drafters of the Charter as shown by the records of their proceedings, she said, adding that the party-list system was intended as “a countervailing means for the weaker segments of our society to overcome the preponderant advantages of the more entrenched and well-established political parties.”

However, Justice Arturo Brion, who voted with the majority, said Sereno’s position was “totally incorrect.”


‘Not to create policy’

He defended the majority decision: “The business and principal function of this Court is not to create policy or to supplant what the Constitution and the law expressly provide. This Court and its members cannot likewise act as advocates, even for social justice for, any ideology for that matter, as advocacy is not the task assigned to us by the Constitution,” he said.

For Brion, the party-list system as defined in the Constitution is one that is primarily grounded on electoral reform and one that was “principally driven” by electoral objectives.

The party-list system, he explained, aimed to benefit “those who were marginalized in the legislative district elections because they could not be elected in the past for lack of the required votes and specific constituency in the winner-take-all legislative district contest, and who, by the number of votes they garnered as 3rd or 4th placer in the district elections, showed that nationally they had the equivalent of what the winner in the legislative district would garner.”

This was how the concepts of “marginalized and underrepresented” and the “lack of political constituency” found its way into the Constitution and RA 7941.

Justice Bienvenido Reyes, who, like Sereno, is an appointee of President Aquino, sided with the Chief Justice on the party-list system being “a social justice tool.”

“It is not simply a mechanism for electoral reform. To simply regard it as a mere procedure for reforming the already working and existing electoral system is a superficial reading of RA 7941 and the Constitution, from which the law breathed life. The idea is that by promoting the advancement of the underprivileged and allowing them an opportunity to grow, they can rise to become partners of the State in pursuing greater causes,” Reyes said in his own separate opinion.

The other Aquino appointee, Justice Marvic Leonen, did not dwell on the “social justice versus electoral reform issue” but agreed with the majority that the “marginalized and underrepresented” requirement should be done away with because it was “too ambiguous” and subject to abuse.

“We [must] maintain full fealty to the textual content of our Constitution. It is ‘a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.’ Nothing more, nothing less,” he said.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Pompeyo Pedroche

    The Supreme Court has been making ridiculous decisions, but so far this one on Party List is the most supreme. When did “election” ever become the jurisdiction of the court? Even a simpleton knows that there iks separation of power, This one belongs to the legislative not judiciary branch of government.

    • Benigno the Turd

      since the 1986 cory constitution gave them power to review nearly everything, including political questions.

      • Pons Corpuz

        do you have a better constitution?

    • white scorpion

      mukhang this set of associates justices DOESN’T know their work. ibalik na lang sa lower court na lang. NAKAKAHIYA!!!!

  • ninestrokes

    Since when did the SC become endowed with the power to create policies?

    • oaba09

      They have the power to review pretty much everything…Blame the framers of our constitution…

  • IronMan8888

    GMA bastardized our SC.


    The next Congress must impeach them all. Then the new Senate must make a swift decision.

  • Atawid

    Partylist is for the marginalized, why the SC ruled otherwise (para lang ba ang makapasok ang millionaire security guard)

  • regd

    The SC majority decision got it all WRONG! I concur with CJ Sereno on this one. Poor decision again by the arroyo-riddled appointees.

    • white scorpion

      that only proves pres aquino is right in selecting cj sereno. sabi mababa raw pscho test. EH, ang mga kasama naman puro BATANG ISIP naman…..

  • farmerpo

    Mikey is happy, that is what counts. Mikey’s mommy is doubly happy, she can now get to organize all the party list she wants. She needs warm bodies in congress. Thanks Justice Brion for confusing the already confused masses. You are a true lawyer praised in the Bible.

  • repapips

    malabo kasi ang batas. dapat repasuhin ang batas na yan. and i think it’s too late, kasi ang mga uupo sa kongreso ay may mga pansariling interes din. kaya goodluck!


  • virtualnook

    SC on the wrong side of history…once more

  • Jake Lopez

    Now who is going to check and balance the Supreme Court? The Legislative body full of rich partylist representatives and the dynastic Senate? GMA really bastardized our system..hanggang kailan kaya matatapos ang paghihirap ng bayan?

    • HarryK

      The framers of the 1986 constitution “batardized” our legislative branch with the party-list system.

    • Guest

      Isn’t the

  • anu12345

    Mayroon bang partylist para sa mga engot?

  • oaba09

    I don’t agree with the decision but I respect it…The supreme court has the final say on policy and legal questions…..

  • RyanE

    I’m not a lawyer but I guess the SC majority has committed an error. I believe the intent of the Constitution framers is indeed about social justice. The SC should instead laid-out clear and specific boundaries on what “marginalized and underrepresented” constitute.

  • Albert Einstien

    AKALA ko nag-resign na si mam…..nanjan pa pala ..PAKAPALAN talaga sa pnas….alam ng boung mundo ito…

    news 12/21/12..Sereno has been trying to hide the fact that she had obtained a grade of 4, out of 5, 1 being the highest and 5 failing.
    A Grade of 1 is considered as Excellent, a Grade of 2 is Very Satisfactory, a Grade of 3 is Satisfactory, a Grade of 4 is Not Satisfactory and a Grade of 5 is Very Unsatisfactory.
    Under the JBC rules, obtaining a grade of 4 automatically disqualifes her for the position.

    news before her appointment as CJ..

    The trick of Justice Sereno and HLI’s proposal is that if the date of taking would be fixed at a more recent date, in this case Jan. 2, 2006, the government would be paying Luisita a bigger bonanza in the form of “just compensation.” Obviously, the Tarlac estate has a much higher “fair market value” in 2006 than in 1989, when malls and industrial parks were not yet established inside the property.

    How much we taxpayers will pay the landlords of Tarlac should the court decide to peg the date of taking on 2006? Farmers’ estimates put the “just compensation” plus the interest which the President and his relatives are adamantly demanding at a whopping P10 billion (at P2 million per hectare)! How the government will pay Luisita is beyond the capacity of the national allocation, as P10 billion is 286 times the allocation for the DAR’s land acquisition and distribution program for 2012 (P35 million).

    BUT there is ALREADY an RTC ruling on just compensation.of 3.9 million .and is it the FARMERS fault if LANDLORDS prolonged the case by APPEAL..why would the VALUE will increase if theres already a COMPENSATION ruling?..di po ba DOUBLE GANASYA naman ang landlords GINAMIT at PINAGKAKITAAN na nila ang lupa..patataasin pa ang VALUATION dahil gusto nila patagalin..kung 500 years ala..kung ano market value after using & abusing the land ang magiging valuation? sobra naman sila..

    Dec. 2, 1985—Manila RTC
    orders the Cojuangcos to transfer control of Hacienda Luisita to the Ministry
    of Agrarian Reform, which will distribute the land to small farmers after
    compensating the landowners P3.988 million. The Cojuangcos elevate the case to the Court of Appeals.( after 2 months of this decision MARCOS was deposed). MORAL ASCENDANCY pa ba ang CJ na magsalita as if CONCERN cya sa MARGINALIZED..? yung farmers ABUSED ho di lang MARGINALIZED ..kasali pa kayo sa mga LANDLORD nag pahirap sa KANILA..

  • buttones

    This Party List/ Trades Union Congress is ridiculous anyway. In a ‘normal’ democracy a Rep/ MP sits in the House representing all of the electorate in his constituency no matter who they are, or of what political color. If I did not vote for a Rep, nonetheless he is obligated to address the concerns I might have about this or that [if I can track the guy down of course] . Clearly, these Party List types over the last 25 years, representing ‘marginalized’ sections of our society have failed miserably, otherwise had they succeeded there would be no marginalized sections of society- a quarter of a century is quite a long time. And what happened to the pork that 20% of the House have been getting at the rate of 70 million peso pa or so over 25 years? Not only that, but ’marginalized’ is a euphemism for ’poor’- the poor, with corruption eroding at the speed of light, which results in NO poverty as we are led to believe [doh!] there soon won’t be any poor and we won’t need parties to represent them- will we?

    As for Sereno’s sesquipedalian rants, well that’s about what they are, designed to show us how clever she thinks she is in using big words in an effort to confuse- learn to speak plain English Sereno and drop the Latin as well, the saving grace in this last profuse offering was the woman at least omitted endless references to her god….

    • Eric Samuel P. Joven

      And who is using big words now? sesquipedalian, euphemism? Seriously?

      • buttones

        Just going with the flow sweetie, If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em …..and yes I know what words mean, and the words I used are hardly ‘big’ my dear, just a basic grasp of what English words actually mean- it is no big deal- are you that impressed? OMG! Can I have your vote?

  • RegineMarfie

    1. Motion For Recon
    2. Ammend the Law

    nuff said…

    • RegineMarfie

      Na infect ng ijut-thinking si Brion on this one… he just made a mockery of the priciples riding behindi this law… it was common knowledge this law was intended to countervail the weaknesses of marginalized sectors who’s ideologies do not subscribe to regular party principles… what this decision does is fill the party list system with Listings as Long as the out moded telephone directory… wtf

  • roansanjuan

    who will now prevent the gasoline dealers association to form their own party list with the backing of the big 3?

  • whyinthisworld

    Another stupid decision. If that is the case, reduce the number of another stupid congressmen and install party lists representative as many as they can. The problem in congress why some sectors in this society has not been properly represented is because many elected congressmen are doing nothing, know nothing, lazy, imbecile and corrupt. Am sure this will result to more corruption and burden on the part of juan dela cruz.

  • boybakal

    Party-list ruling detrimental to marginalized–Sereno….How’s that.
    Dapat simplify na lang explanation.

    • Eric Samuel P. Joven

      binasa mo ba ang dissent niya?

  • disqusted0fu

    The judicial and executive branches are quite similar. Both branches have inexperienced, authoritative leaders who are obviously trying so hard to inject their personal agenda in the government with the use of their authority, regardless of its legalities.

  • white scorpion

    i don’t precisely knows the laws. but i hope the associates justices are not running counter to chief justice opiniion just to prove na mas marami kayo. you guys are disgraceful to the very institution you’ve work for many years to obtain. and disservice to the people.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos