Comelec asks SC to explain party list system
Posted April 23, 2009on:
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 11:21:00 04/23/2009
Filed Under: Laws, Politics, Elections
MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) The poll body has asked the Supreme Court to clarify how it computed the ranking and percentage of votes garnered by party lists in the May 2007 elections, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo said.
The system would pave the way for additional seats at the House of Representatives.
“We will comply to the SC ruling. Sa ngayon (For now), we cannot make an announcement of the additional party lists. We will seek clarification on how the new formula works and if some party lists with cases will be included,” Melo said.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a petition filed by the Barangay (village) Association for National Advancement (Banat) to void the 2 percent threshold previously used to determine which party list groups would get a second or third seat at House of Representatives.
The decision was made to fill in the total of 55 seats or 20 percent of total seats at the House of Representatives allotted for party list representatives. There are currently 22 party list representatives at the House of Representatives.
Melo has directed a technical working group headed by Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino Jr. to meet with the Supreme Court on Thursday to clarify the total number of votes for all party list candidates.
Under the law, a party list group that accumulates 2 percent of the total votes for party lists gains a seat at the House of Representatives.
The percentage of votes garnered by each party is arrived at by dividing the number of votes garnered by each party by the total number of votes cast for all party list candidates.
The poll chief noted party list groups BATAS and PEP have pending cases of cancellation of registration before Comelec, which the Commission en banc needs to resolve soon.
Tolentino said in a separate interview the Supreme Court’s ruling, which canceled the registration of another party list, Filipinos for Peace, Justice and Progress Movement (FPJMP) would affect the computation.
“We will have to decide those cases if they are qualified to be included in the recomputation,” said Melo.
FPJMP received 227, 136 votes in the May 2007 elections, according to Comelec documents.
With the SC ruling, Tolentino said the Comelec would also consult the SC if the votes received by FPJMP would be deducted from the total of 15, 950,900 votes for party lists during the 2007 polls, thus arriving at 15,723,764.
“The total number of votes for party lists is the denominator used to compute for the percentage of the votes a party list received. If the denominator is reduced, the percentage of vote increases,” said Tolentino.
He noted the increase would allow more part list groups to satisfy the 2-percent threshold and gain one guaranteed seat for the first round of allocation of seats.
For groups with at above 2 percent of the total votes, they could qualify to get an additional second or third seat if the total number of party list votes was reduced, Tolentino said.
Tolentino acknowledged Comelec could not proclaim the additional party lists because the formula for the computation has to be clarified with the High court.
After the computations are finished and audited, Melo said the Commission en banc who also sat as en banc for the National Board of Canvassers, would proclaim the additional party list representatives two days from Thursday.
Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the new SC ruling on party lists would allow marginalized groups to gain more representation in legislation and thus pave way for a more democratic lawmaking process.
The term of the 32 additional party lists would end on 2010 because under the law, party list representatives have only a three-year term at the House of Representatives, added Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.
In 2007, Comelec proclaimed the following groups that satisfied the minimum 2-percent threshold:
1. BUHAY – 1,163,218 votes
2. BAYAN MUNA – 972,730 votes
3. CIBAC – 760,260 votes
4. GABRIELA – 610,451 votes
5. APEC – 538,971 votes
6. A TEACHER – 476,036 votes
7. AKBAYAN – 470,872 votes
8. ALAGAD- 423,076 votes
9. BUTIL – 405,052 votes
10. COOP-NATCO – 390,029 votes
11. BATAS – 386,361 votes
12. ANAK PAWIS – 376,036 votes
13. ARC -338,194 votes
14. ABONO – 337,046 votes
Using the traditional Panganiban formula, Buhay got 3 seats, while Bayan Muna, CIBAC, Gabriela and APEC got 2 seats each, for every 2-percent number of votes on top of the 2-percent base threshold. The remaining parties and coalitions received one seat each at Congress.
The Party List Act states the party list system allows for a mechanism of proportional representation of Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and under-represented sectors in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Comelec.