Buhay, An Waray partylists: Why us?
The Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay), which topped the party-list election on May 13, just can’t accept the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to take away one of the three seats in the House of Representatives that it has won and reserve it for another party that is not yet sure of making it to the House.
Another party, the An Waray, is also not allowing the Comelec to take one of the two seats it has won and reserve it for the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens (Senior Citizens).
If the Comelec insists on giving it just one seat, the An Waray said on Saturday that it will bring the matter to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).
Lito Atienza, a nominee of the Buhay, on Friday rejected the Comelec’s decision to implement a Supreme Court order favoring the Senior Citizens at his group’s expense.
“The Supreme Court didn’t say the Comelec should get Senior Citizens’ seat from us. That’s unfair,” Atienza, former mayor of Manila, told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
The Buhay party polled more than 1 million votes, entitling it to three seats in the House.
But the Comelec decided on Wednesday to temporarily give the Buhay only two seats and two other winning parties that each won two seats—the Magdalo and the An Waray—only one seat each and reserve those seats for the Senior Citizens.
The Comelec earlier disqualified the Senior Citizens from contesting the party-list election, but the group, already represented in the House, challenged the Comelec’s decision in the Supreme Court.
Pending resolution of the Senior Citizens’ petition, the Supreme Court ordered the Comelec on Wednesday to temporarily stop the party’s disqualification and reserve a seat, or seats, for it in the House.
To obey the court’s order, the Comelec decided to take one seat each from the Buhay, the Magdalo and the An Waray parties.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the new seat allocations for the three parties would become permanent should the Supreme Court rule with finality in favor of the Senior Citizens.
But Atienza sees the Comelec decision as unsound.
“Where is the arithmetical justification for that?” Atienza asked.
He said the Comelec should instead get seats from party-list groups that were proclaimed winners despite polling only around 300,000 votes.
“Where’s the accurate representation of the people’s will in that?” he asked.
“They should look at the bottom rung. Some groups got one seat when they got only 300,000 votes. If we follow this template, then the Buhay should get four seats because we got 1.3 million votes.”
Should the Comelec decision stick, Buhay Rep. Irwin Tieng would lose another three-year term because he is the party’s third nominee.
The Buhay’s first nominee is Michael Velarde, son of preacher Mike Velarde, leader of El Shaddai Movement. Atienza is the party’s second nominee.
An Waray Rep. Florencio Noel on Saturday said his party was not bothered that the Comelec might take away its second congressional seat.
“I don’t think it’s possible,” he told the Inquirer, citing the previous resolution of the Comelec, sitting as the national board of canvassers, proclaiming the An Waray’s victory.
“It’s clear there that we were allotted two seats even if there is still no certificate of proclamation, which is only ministerial,” Noel said.
Since the An Waray has already been proclaimed winner and allotted two seats, Noel said that the HRET, not the Comelec, now has jurisdiction over the question of the number of congressional seats.
“We’re not bothered because we know that they can’t remove our second seat,” he said. “To us, the issue is jurisdictional. If the Comelec proceeds (with taking away one of our seats), we will write them.”
The Comelec disqualified the Senior Citizens for term-sharing involving the two seats it won in the 2010 election.
Had it not been disqualified, the Senior Citizens would have finished the party-list race in 10th place, having garnered 677,642 votes.
Five seats remaining
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said on Friday that the Comelec could not rescind without due process the Buhay’s proclamation on May 28 as the top party-list group, with an allocation of three seats in the House.
Macalintal said the Supreme Court order should not affect the Buhay.
He said the Comelec should get the reserved seats for the Senior Citizens from the five seats that the election watchdog had not yet assigned to any group.
First posted 6:54 pm | Saturday, June 8th, 2013