BAGUIO CITY?The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from enforcing its resolution declaring the coalition of the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the Nationalist People?s Coalition (NPC) as the dominant minority party.
The court, sitting en banc, responded to a suit filed here Monday by the Liberal Party (LP) against the Comelec and its chief political rivals, said Court Administrator Midas Marquez in a news conference.
Marquez said the status quo order requires the LP, the NP-NPC coalition and the Comelec ?to file their comments within a non-extendable period of five days [from Tuesday].?
Because of the directive, the NP-NPC coalition ?cannot be considered the dominant opposition party? until the court rules on the petition after April 26, Marquez said.
Granting an opposition party dominant minority status entitles the party to the sixth official copy of the election returns, as well as access to the server that gives the online results in real time as each return is transmitted from the precincts to the central counting machines, the Comelec said.
Part of the requirements for attaining dominant party status is for a party to have the highest number of incumbent elected officials as well as candidates vying for both national and local offices.
?Our legal consultants are currently working on addressing the matter,? said NPC spokesperson Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian.
?We are confident though that the Supreme Court, after looking at the prevailing facts, will eventually uphold the validity of the coalition,? Gatchalian said.
With their union, the NP and NPC were assured of the status as each party on its own has a large membership.
The NPC does not have its own presidential candidate but has a vice presidential candidate in the person of Sen. Loren Legarda, who is running as a guest candidate on the NP ticket.
The NPC thus was expected to support the presidential bid of NP standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar.
For its part, the LP in a statement said: ?The Liberal Party is elated that the Supreme Court sided with the people in issuing a temporary restraining order against the bogus coalition between the Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People?s Coalition.
?We stand firm in our belief that this supposed coalition serves only the interests of those who wish to remain in power and preserve the rampant system of corruption in our country. The LP remains vigilant in light of this decision, and is hopeful that the Supreme Court, in situations that might later arise, will continue to uphold the truth and deliver judgments that are fair, just and have only the people?s interests at heart, as is its duty.? With reports from Michael Ubac and Gil Cabacungan