Comelec told to proclaim party-list rep
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to proclaim Abang Lingkod group as one of the winners in the party-list race in last May’s elections.
“The Comelec is hereby ordered to proclaim Abang Lingkod as one of the winning party-list groups during the May 13, 2013 elections 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. Its ruling was dated Oct. 22 but it was just recently uploaded on the SC website.
Voting 10-4, the high court reversed and set aside the May 10, 2013, Comelec decision canceling the registration of Abang Lingkod as a party-list group.
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno was one of those who dissented together with Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and Associate Justice Arturo Brion and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
In an 18-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes Jr., the high court said Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it canceled Abang Lingkod’s registration for failing to show a track record in representing the marginalized and underrepresented.
“The flaw in the Comelec’s disposition lies in the fact that it insists on requiring party-list groups to present evidence showing that they have a track record in representing the marginalized and underrepresented,” the high court said, stressing that this was not a requirement of the law.
It said Section 5 of Republic Act no. 7941 or the Party-list Law stated that groups intending to register under the party-list system are just required to attach to their verified petitions “constitution, by-laws, platform of government, list of officers, coalition agreement and other relevant information as may be required by the Comelec.”
The high court pointed out that “there was no mention that sectoral organizations intending to participate in the party-list elections are still required to present a track record.”
On Comelec’s cancellation of Abang Lingkod’s registration because it submitted as proof of its qualification digitally-edited photographs to show it undertook activities related to their organization’s advocacy, the high court made it clear that it “(did) not condone the deceit perpetrated by Abang Lingkod.”
“The Court does not tolerate Abang Lingkod’s resort to chicanery and its shabby treatment of the requirements for registration under the party-list system. Nevertheless, considering that track record is no longer a requirement, a group’s misrepresentation as to its track record cannot be used as a ground to deny or cancel its registration—it is no longer material to its qualification under the party-list system,” the high court said.
The high court noted that Abang Lingkod obtained 260,215 votes out of the 26,722,131 votes cast for the party list.
It told the Comelec that “upholding the cancellation of Abang Lingkod’s registration, notwithstanding that it was able to obtain a sufficient number of votes for a legislative seat, would serve no purpose other than to subvert the will of the electorate who voted to give Abang Lingkod the privilege to represent them in the House of Representatives.”