House urged to recognize Guanzon as P3PWD representative
MANILA, Philippines — Kabataan Party Rep. Raoul Manuel urged the House of Representatives in a privilege speech on Monday to recognize as its member Rowena Guanzon, the first nominee of the party-list Komunidad ng Pamilya, Pasyente at Persons with Disabilities (P3PWD).
Manuel pointed out that the months-long vacancy of the P3PWD seat had deprived persons with disabilities (PWDs) of representation in the House.
“Every month that the said party has no representative causes irreversible disenfranchisement of persons with disabilities. Also, delays in allowing a duly elected partylist group to sit in Congress will weaken our collective mandate as representatives of the people and can erode public trust in our institutions,” Manuel said, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English,
Manuel, who also spoke on behalf of the Makabayan coalition, said Congress should ensure that the plight of marginalized sectors could be heard in the government.
He pointed out that the PWD sector, in particular, had long clamored for representation to push for inclusive infrastructure, systems, and policies that take into consideration their physical and mental limitations.
“With our P3PWD, we can make certain that our persons with disabilities are always considered in all our activities as lawmakers. To level out representations in our Congress, we are saying that it’s time to accept the P3PWD representative as our fellow lawmaker in Congress,” Manuel said.
The P3PWD secured a total of 391,174 votes in the 2022 elections, earning the sector its long-desired seat in Congress.
However, it hasn’t all smooth sailing for the party-list since on June 14 last year because all its original nominees submitted their resignation or withdrawal to the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The party-list then named Guanzon as its new first nominee.
Guanzon faced a challenge when the Duterte Youth party-list filed a petition questioning her nomination before the Supreme Court, noting that her application was filed only after the deadline.
In view of this, the high court issued a temporary restraining order on the former Comelec commissioner’s substitution bid.
But Guanzon said the petition to keep her from sitting as a House member was “moot and academic” since she had already taken her oath of office as the P3PWD representative before Court of Appeals Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon.
Manuel echoed this explanation, arguing that the issue was no longer a responsibility of the Comelec since it had already proclaimed the P3PWD as a winning party-list.
“Based on the Supreme Court rulings, should there be any issue concerning the qualifications of the P3PWD party-list after the May 9, 2022 elections, it should be the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal or HRET to make the decision.)
Manuel also cited Section 17, Article 6 of the Constitution which states: “The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members.”
He noted that the winning party-list proclamation, oath of office, and assumption of office are the three necessary steps a person must undertake to become a House member — all of which had already been ticked in the to-do list of the P3PWD.
“That said, Hon. Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon, the first nominee of P3PWD Partylist, is a member of the House of Representatives and should be able to participate in our sessions and activities as our colleague. Also, if there are any concerns regarding their qualification, those should be settled in the HRET,” the youth lawmaker said.