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SC asked by ex-justice to allow Ako Bicol partylist to run in 2013 polls

/ 06:44 AM November 12, 2012

Supporters of Ako Bicol gather at the Peñaranda Park in Legazpi City to show their support to the party list, which was earlier disqualified by the Commission on Elections to participate in the May 2013 elections.INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—A former Supreme Court justice is asking the high court to act with “extreme urgency” in barring the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from disqualifying  Ako Bicol party-list group (AKB).

Retired Supreme Court justice Vicente Mendoza, lead counsel of the AKB,  has filed in behalf of the Bicol party-list a petition with the high court seeking for a temporary restraining order or writ of injunction against the Comelec’s order on October 10 striking out AKB from the list of accredited party-list groups for the 2013 mid-term elections.

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Mendoza said that with the Comelec scheduled to finalize its list of candidates from December 2 to 31 this year and the ballot to be formatted between January 20 and April 23 next year, “the onset of several public holidays in the coming months, including the looming Christmas break inserts added urgency since said holidays lessen the time to resolve these issues, effectively depriving petitioner AKB of a fair chance to prepare for a nationwide campaign,” Mendoza said.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to resume its en banc session this week with AKB’s petition part of its agenda on Tuesday. The Supreme Court will go on a Christmas break next month and will return on January 7 or two weeks before the start of the printing of ballots.

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Mendoza said that the AKB should be allowed to mount a national campaign during the allotted period especially if the SC would rule against the Comelec and uphold the party-list group’s accreditation.

In a ruling issued October 10, the Comelec ruled  that the AKB did not represent any marginalized sector cited in the Constitution or Republic Act  794l, namely, labor, peasant, fisher folk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals and lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders or LBGT.

Mendoza argued that while a  party-list should  represent marginalized and under-represented groups, “it is a mistake to think that these sectors are the only marginalized and under-represented sectors of society and further that these sectors are necessarily financially poor and destitute.”

AKB has three representatives in Congress — Rodel Batocabe, Christopher Co and Alfredo Garbin Jr.

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TAGS: 2013 midterm elections, Ako Bicol, Comelec, Party-list System, Supreme Court, Vicente Mendoza
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