SC rules Abang Lingkod can take Congress’ 58th seat
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court ruled that partylist Abang Lingkod is entitled to a seat in Congress and ordered the Commission on Elections to push through with its proclamation.
“The Commission on Elections is hereby ordered to proclaim Abang Lingkod as one of the winning party-list groups during the May 13, 2013 election with the number of seats it may be entitled to based on the total number of votes it garnered during the said elections,” the high court said in an 18-page decision made public Wednesday.
Abang Lingkod is a sectoral organization representing farmers and fisherfolk. It participated in the May 2010 elections but failed to get the needed number of votes to have a seat in Congress.
Then, on May 31, 2012, Abang Lingkod manifested before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) their intent to participate in the 2013 polls. After several hearings, the Comelec cancelled Abang Lingkod’s registration for failure to establish its track record in uplifting the cause of the marginalized and underrepresented groups.
The group took the case to the Supreme Court. The high court stopped Comelec from implementing the disqualification order against them. Then, the high court issued new parameters in determining the qualified party-list groups. It also remanded the case to the Comelec.
Still, on May 10, 2013, the Comelec maintained that Abang Lingkod should be disqualified. The group then went to the high court alleging that Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion. The high court allowed Abang Lingkod to participate in the elections while the case is pending before them.
The group has obtained 260,215 votes out of 26,722,131 votes entitling them for a seat in Congress.
Voting 10-4 with one Justice on leave, the high court said the Comelec abused its discretion in disqualifying Abang Lingkod. It pointed that requirement of submitting proof of track record is not part of the new guideline that they have set for groups aspiring for a partylist seat in Congress.
“For purposes of registration under the partylist system, national or regional parties or organizations need not represent any marginalized and underrepresented sector…There was no mention that sectoral organizations intending to participate in the partylist elections are still required to present a track record,” the high court said.
The high court further stated that three of the five nominees of Abang Lingkod are farmers and need not present track record to show their active participation.
“Indeed the disqualification of one or some of the nominees of a partylist group should not automatically result in the disqualification of the group,” the high court said.
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