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Ex-Comelec exec decries SC ruling, bares party-list 'formula'

Camille Diola - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Retired Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Rene Sarmiento on Tuesday insisted that the Constitution guarantees that party-list groups have to be part of marginalized or underrepresented sectors.

"Ako ay disappointed sa ruling ng Supreme Court sa party-list system," Sarmiento told Philstar.com.

The sentiment is similar with Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.'s following the announcement of the high court's decision early this month, prompting the election official to consider resigning from the poll body. (Read related stories: SC: Party-list groups need not be 'marginalized' | Brillantes still contemplating on resignation)

Sarmiento, a human rights lawyer, added that the system's intention of giving Congress seats to representatives of marginalized groups is to allow "social justice" to take over in the area of lawmaking.

He added that party-list groups that represent regional and national sectors defeat the purpose of the system.

"The formula is a multi-party system, plus marginalized and underrepresented [sectors], plus social justice, equals the party-list system in the Philippines," Sarmiento explained.

The country's 1987 Constitution provides that "the State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development," as stated in Article II, Section 10.

Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, also criticized the Supreme Court's decision to issue guidelines for the Comelec to follow on screening participating party-list groups, allowing groups outside the said sectors. Like Sarmiento, he cited "social justice" in the argument.

Olalia said in a statement that the move can "open up the floodgates for powerful and privileged traditional parties and a slew of bogus, dummy, or shell organizations at all levels."

"It is our respectful view that it is not faithful to the social justice spirit of giving more chances, even if at times token and insufficient, to the poor and underprivileged in an already flawed and uneven electoral arena and process," Olalia said.

COMELEC COMELEC CHAIRMAN SIXTO BRILLANTES JR. EDRE OLALIA GROUPS LIKE SARMIENTO LIST NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLES PARTY SARMIENTO SUPREME COURT
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