“This is absolutely unacceptable. We oppose this. We will oppose before the Supreme Court. No retreat. Never surrender,” said LP president Sen. Francis Pangilinan. The LP is fielding eight opposition senatorial candidates.
Geremy Pintolo/File
LP challenges Comelec ruling on dominant minority
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Liberal Party (LP) will appeal before the Supreme Court the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to declare the Nacionalista Party (NP) of former senator Manny Villar as the dominant minority party in the May 13 elections.

“This is absolutely unacceptable. We oppose this. We will oppose before the Supreme Court. No retreat. Never surrender,” said LP president Sen. Francis Pangilinan. The LP is fielding eight opposition senatorial candidates.

The poll body has named the administration-backed PDP-Laban as the dominant majority party. Members of the NP are mainly allies of the administration.

“How can that happen when PDP and NP are both allied with the administration? How can they be both majority and minority? Is the PDP-NP alliance the new KBL?” Pangilinan said, referring to the political party of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Pangilinan, who is also the campaign manager of the opposition senatorial ticket Otso Diretso, questioned the timing of the Comelec’s announcement.

“The decision was released yesterday, May 9, 2019 or four days before election day. There is no time to appeal. Was this deliberate?” he said.

Pangilinan said the decision of the poll body “runs counter to democracy, to the basic tenets of fair play and common sense.”

“Incredible. You chose to deny the existence of the opposition and gave all the privileges to the administration,” the senator added.

He also likened the Comelec’s decision to the “politicking” in the House of Representatives when lawmakers proclaimed former president and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as speaker and elected as minority leader her ally and partymate Quezon Rep. Danny Suarez.

“Is Comelec also engaged in politicking?” Pangilinan asked.

“We appeal to Comelec, don’t pretend to be blind. Don’t be an instrument and a tool of the administration in trampling on our political rights and mangling our democracy. Has the Comelec become a sycophant too?” he said.

In a resolution issued on Thursday, Comelec said the watchers of the dominant majority and dominant minority parties shall be given preference if space in the canvassing is limited.

Apart from PDP-Laban and NP, the Comelec also accredited the LP, Nationalist People’s Coalition, United Nationalist Alliance, Lakas-CMD, Workers and Peasants Party, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, National Unity Party and Aksyong Demokratiko as major political parties.

Serious reservation

Comelec’s decision was taken with “serious reservation” by one of its commissioners.

“I respectfully submit that the dominant minority party should logically come from the minority, that is, a party that belongs to those that stand opposite the majority,” commissioner Luie Tito Guia said in a separate position.

Guia said he has “no objection on the criteria and formula used in determining the ranking of parties as to their dominance.” 

But he stressed he has “a serious reservation” that NP, a party which obtained “the second highest rating,” had been chosen as dominant minority party.

He cited Sec. 274 of the Omnibus Election Code which states that the “dominant opposition party shall be ... opposed to the majority party which has the capability to wage a bona fide nationwide campaign as shown by the extent of its organization.”

“Obviously, the second most dominant party would not necessarily belong to the minority,” he added.

Commissioner Rowena Guanzon concurred with Guia’s opinion.

According to Guia, the purpose of determining the dominant majority and minority parties is “to ensure fairness in contending or opposing political groups.”

Such purpose “will not be served if the dominant minority party also comes from the majority,” he said.

The poll body’s decision is contained in Resolution No. No. 10538 dated May 8.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez assured critics of the decision that the “alliances are not a criterion” in choosing dominant parties.

“It’s not about who you are allied with. It is about our size and relative strength as political party that they become dominant parties... What you are ranking here is the status of political party, not its allegiance,” he said.

Jimenez said Comelec was only implementing the law, which provides that selection should be based on numerical values. – Helen Flores  

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