SC upholds Comelec proclamation of 51 winning party-lists in 2019 polls
File photo shows the Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, canvasses votes.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

SC upholds Comelec proclamation of 51 winning party-lists in 2019 polls

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - September 29, 2020 - 5:34pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has upheld validity of the Commission on Election’s proclamation of party-list winners of the 2019 midterm elections and retained the formula in computing seats for party-list representative at the lower House.

The SC En Banc dismissed the petition filed by three party-list groups that assailed the Comelec’ declaration of winning party-list groups in the last elections, its Public Information Office said in a statement. They challenged the constitutionality of a provision of Republic Act 7491 or the Party-List System Act, but failed to get eight votes to declare a law as unconstitutional.

“As a consequence, the proclamation by the Comelec of the winning party-list groups during the 13 May 2019 elections in accordance with the formula espoused in the Banat Case was upheld,” it said.

“Further, Section 11(b) of RA 7491 was not declared unconstitutional,” it added.

The petition was filed by Angkla: Ang Partido ng mga Marinong Pilipino Inc. (ANGKLA) and Serbisyo sa Bayan Party (SBP), with Aksyon Magsasaka-Tinig Partido ng Masa (AKMA-PTM) coming in as Petitioner-in-Intervention. The three party-list groups ranked just below the 51 winning party-lists groups.

AKMA-PTM was 52, SBP was 53 while ANGKLA was 54.

The SC PIO said that the petitioners questioned the allocation of seats for the party-list sector in the House of Representatives and assailed the constitutionality of Section 11(b) ofRA 7941. The provision states that parties, organizations or coalitions receiving at least 2% of the total votes cast for party-list system shall be entitled to one seat each. Those who secure votes of more than 2% shall be entitled to additional seats “in proportion to their total number of votes.”

The law also stated that each party-list, however, shall not be entitled to more than three seats.

Computation in Banat case

The petitioners, however, argued that the “allocation of additional seats ‘in proportion to the total number of votes” results in “double counting of votes” for the party-list, and is thus unconstitutional.

The SC PIO explained that the interpretation of the specific law provision was settled in the 2009 case of Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) vs Comelec.

“The Banat case laid down the parameters and methodology on how the seats for the party-list sector should be allocated, and the same formula had been used and applied in the allocation of seats for the party-list sector in Congress since then,” the SC PIO said.

The ruling held that in computing the additional seats, “the guaranteed seats shall no longer be included because they have already been allocated, at one seat each, to every two-percenter.”

“Thus the remaining available seats fir allocation as ‘additional seats’ are the maximum seats reserved under the Party List System less the guaranteed seats,” the ruling further read.

Voting: Eight votes not reached

The SC PIO also said that the majority vote required by the Constitution to annul a law as unconstitutional—eight votes—was not reached. Following the internal rules of the SC, the tribunal denied the petition.

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka explained that the voting was 7-3-3-1.

Seven justices voted to dismiss the petition. They are Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, who was joined by Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Jose Reyes, Jr., Rosmari Carandang, Henri Jean Paul Inting and Mario Lopez.

Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa submitted a concurring and dissenting opinion but it is still unclear which issues he tackled in his separate opinions.

Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo filed a dissenting opinion and was joined by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando. Meanwhile Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda also has a dissenting opinion and was joined by Associate Justices Edgardo Delos Santos and Samuel Gaerlan.

A full copy of the ruling has yet to be made public as of this story's posting.

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