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Disqualified party-list group seeks SC relief

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The party-list group Binhi-Partido Ng Mga Magsasaka Para Sa Mga Magsasaka (BINHI) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to immediately act on its bid for a temporary restraining order against the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last week disqualifying the group from participating in next year’s elections.

In an urgent motion for special raffle filed yesterday, BINHI said there is extreme urgency for the high court to act on its petition and issue a status quo ante order before it goes into long holiday recess from Dec. 12 to Jan. 9 next year.

Otherwise, petitioner argued, it could be deprived of its right to participate the May 2013 polls should the SC later on grant its petition and declare it a qualified party-list group.

BINHI lawyer Charita Agdon cited Comelec’s schedule, showing the official list of candidates to be included in the ballots to be printed next month, is set to be finalized this month.

Agdon argued BINHI would be deprived of its fair chance to prepare in the remaining six months for the midterm polls if it does not make it to the list.

Agdon said this is clear “irreparable injury” the petitioner stands to suffer should the high court fail to stop the implementation of the Comelec resolution it questioned in a petition last Monday.

The high court has not acted on BINHI’s petition, which was not included in the agenda of yesterday’s en banc session since it was filed late Monday afternoon.

It will be included in the SC’s session next Tuesday, a day before the high tribunal goes into month-long break.

While in recess, the high court usually acts only on urgent petitions that involve either national security or life-and-death situation. The Chief Justice calls for special en banc sessions on those extremely urgent cases.

Several disqualified party-list groups have made the same manifestation before the SC.

In its petition, BINHI asked the SC to stop the “whimsical, abusive” cancellation of its accreditation and registration by Comelec for the mere reason that its members are affiliated with a cooperative in Cabanatuan City.

Specifically, the group asked the SC to immediately enjoin the poll body from implementing its resolution last Nov. 28 by covering the petitioner with the status quo ante order earlier issued on other similarly situated party-list groups.

The group argued the Comelec acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in canceling its registration, considering it has fully complied with requirements under the law.

The group cited as basis an earlier resolution dated Nov. 19, 2009 where the Comelec granted the accreditation and registration of the group as a sectoral party duly representing the peasants, farmers and farm tillers sectors covered in Section 5 of Republic Act 7941 or Party-list System Act.

BINHI also questioned why the Comelec disqualified it simply because its members also belong to the Cabanatuan City Seed Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

AGDON BINHI BINHI-PARTIDO NG MGA MAGSASAKA PARA SA MGA MAGSASAKA CABANATUAN CITY CABANATUAN CITY SEED GROWERS MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE CHARITA AGDON CHIEF JUSTICE COMELEC GROUP LIST REPUBLIC ACT
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