Comelec gives back party-list seats
MANILA, Philippines—After being bombarded with criticism over its controversial apportioning of party-list seats, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) folded and has allowed the third nominee of the Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) party-list group to sit in Congress.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes said the election body decided to release the certificates of proclamation of Buhay’s third nominee, Irwin Tieng, and the second nominee of the Magdalo party-list group of Senator-elect Antonio Trillanes IV.
However, he said, the An Waray party-list group may still lose one of its two seats in Congress if the Supreme Court allows the party-list group Senior Citizens to sit in the House of Representatives.
“We have released the certificate of proclamation of Buhay’s (third nominee) and the additional nominee of Magdalo,” said Brillantes in an interview.
“So the remaining (seats with no certificates of proclamation) include one from An Waray and the bottom five groups (which have yet to be proclaimed),” he said.
A winning party-list group needs the Comelec’s certificate of proclamation for the House of Representatives to allow its nominee to sit in Congress.
Buhay, Magdalo and An Waray protested loudly when the Comelec announced that they could each lose a seat if the Supreme Court grants the Senior Citizens party-list group’s petition to void the poll body’s decision disqualifying it from participating in the May 13 elections. The high court had ordered the Comelec to “reserve” seats for the group pending its decision on the petition.
Explaining the Comelec’s turnaround, Brillantes yesterday said his previous pronouncement was based on the assumption that 10 other disqualified party-list groups could still make it to Congress, if their petitions are given due course by the Supreme Court.
However, as only Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod still had pending appeals in the high tribunal, this would not be the case, he said.
So the 10 other groups are no longer included as they either did not go to the high court or their petitions were denied.
“Their votes will no longer be counted,” Brillantes said.
He denied that the Comelec had changed its mind because of the flak that it got or because of the formal petition that Buhay filed against its decision to take away its third seat.
“We have never withdrawn our proclamation (declaring that Buhay had three seats). We just held on for some time to its (third) certificate of proclamation, but we never withdrew the old proclamation,” Brillantes said.
“In fact, we are not coming out with a (new) resolution. We’re just issuing the certificate of proclamation,” he added.
However, Brillantes had no explanation for how the Comelec came up with its new computation and why An Waray could still lose one congressional seat.
Or why the seats reserved for Senior Citizens should not come from the five still vacant party-list seats.
Brillantes said the Comelec may proclaim by Tuesday the winners of three of the five remaining party-list seats.
“We could proclaim three. We’ll have to leave out the last two because of the reservation (order from the Supreme Court). So we are reserving one seat from An Waray and the two remaining (vacant seats),” he said.
Brillantes said Senior Citizens would get two of the seats if it wins its petition in the Supreme Court, while Abang Lingkod would get one if the high tribunal grants its appeal.
“So we’ll have to leave three (seats) open,” he said.