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Cocofed asks Comelec to clarify House seat

Posted on: April 29, 2009

Cocofed asks Comelec to clarify House seat

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:11:00 04/29/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Congress

MANILA, Philippines—Is there a 55th seat for party-list representatives?

The Philippine Coconut Producers Federation (Cocofed), which represents over a million coconut farmers, filed on Wednesday a motion for reconsideration and clarification with the poll body on the issue of its seat at the House of Representatives.

Cocofed Representative Domingo Espina urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to explain why his group was not proclaimed alongside party-list groups that took additional 29 seats on April 24.

Espina said the “Comelec should not overrule the Supreme Court ruling that allocated one seat for Cocofed in the 32 additional party list seats” after the SC voided the 2-percent threshold or the Panganiban formula.

The Comelec explained that since the province of Shariff Kabunsuan was nullified by the Supreme Court, only 219 seats for legislative districts were available and thus seats allotted for party-list groups were reduced from 55 to 54.

Quoting its en banc resolution, Comelec chairman Jose Melo said Cocofed, which occupied the 55th seat for the party-list, would “no longer be accommodated” because only 54 seats were allotted.

Southern Leyte farmer Espina said prior to resolution on Kabunsuan, it was the second district of Maguindanao now represented by Congressman Didagen Dilangalen.

“Even if the province of Shariff Kabunsuan was annulled, bumalik siya as second district of Maguindanao–wala namang na-erase sa political map (there is no legislative district erased from the political map),” said Espina, who said by his calculation there were still 220 legislative districts.

Regarding the reduction of legislative districts from 220 to 219 after Shariff Kabunsuan was nullified, there would still be 55 seats for party lists, Espina argued.

The ratio of House seats between regular district representatives and party-list groups is 4:1.

“If the legislative seats were reduced to 219, 20 percent of that is 54.75–which when rounded off gives 55 seats,” said Espina.

Responding to this, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body would look into the motion filed by Cocofed.

“We will consider the motion arguments carefully, with every intention of adhering to the Supreme Court ruling and the party list law,” said Jimenez.

Asked about his projects for his constituency, Espina said his major projects include coconut research like the tissue culture for macapuno, research for the use of coconut oil as cure for cancer, coconut replanting and scholarship for deserving coconut farmers and their family.

“If we are granted the seat, I can serve my constituency until June 2010 and I will implement these projects immediately,” said Espina.

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