3 party-list groups get SC reprieve
Three more party-list groups were given a reprieve by the Supreme Court, which directed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday not to disqualify the organizations from taking part in the May 2013 elections.
While the three groups got a reprieve, the Comelec voted to reject the appeal of the Black and White political party that it be allowed to participate in the 2013 party-list elections. Black and White has close ties to the Aquino administration.
In a notice released only Thursday, Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal said the high court en banc issued a resolution on Nov. 20 stopping the Comelec from implementing its disqualification orders against the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy, the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc. and Agapay ng Indigenous People’s Rights Alliance Inc.
“[The high court] require[d] the parties to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the assailed Comelec resolutions dated Nov. 7 and Oct. 16, without prejudice to the final ruling of this court on the merits,” Vidal said.
The Comelec has so far disqualified 80 groups in the May elections in an effort to cleanse the party-list system of those that do not represent marginalized sectors and those whose representatives are millionaires or members of political clans or dynasties or both.
The poll body has also canceled the accreditation of 47 party-list groups while denying the petitions of 33 others that wanted to register as party-list groups.
In the notice, the high court ordered that the petitions of the three party-list groups be consolidated with the petitions of eight party-list groups that earlier won a reprieve.
The eight were Ako Bicol, Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives, Aksyon Magsasaka-Partido Tinig ng Masa, Kapatiran ng mga Nakakulong na Walang Sala Inc., 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy, Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction Inc., Association for Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership, and Alliance for Rural Concerns.
The Supreme Court directed the Comelec to comment on the petitions within a nonextendible period of 10 days from notice.
The high court also resolved to “note the most urgent motion for special raffle dated Nov. 15” filed by the lawyer of the Guardians.
On leave during Tuesday’s en banc hearing were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Diosdado Peralta and Bienvenido Reyes.
Black and White
In the Comelec, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the poll body en banc voted 5-2 on Wednesday to affirm the decision of its first division to disqualify Black and White.
“More or less, the commission en banc adopted our resolution in the division in denying the motion for reconsideration,” Sarmiento said in an interview.
“While it was recognized that Black and White advocated good governance, it had no track record working for the marginalized sectors. It’s nominees also did not come from the marginalized,” he said.
On Oct. 29, the Comelec First Division, chaired by Sarmiento, voted to disqualify Black and White.
Sarmiento and Commissioner Armando Velasco voted to deny the party. Commissioner Christian Lim took no part, citing his close affiliation to some of the group’s members.
The Black and White Movement is known as one of the staunchest critics of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The group’s nominees for the May elections include Leah Navarro, Marco Cabrera, Jose Morales, Mary Shinn Ramos and Nolasco Apolonio.
“They can still go up to the Supreme Court and appeal the case,” Sarmiento said.