Disqualified party-lists' rush to SC futile?

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Oct 31 2012 01:25 PM | Updated as of Oct 31 2012 09:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Attempts by some party-list groups to ask the Supreme Court to reverse the Commission on Elections (Comelec)'s decision to disqualify them could prove futile, according to election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.

Macalintal said disqualified party-list groups "are estopped from questioning the authority of the Comelec to review their qualifications.”

Estoppel means a party is prevented from asserting a claim, which is inconsistent with a position he or she took earlier.

In this case, the party-lists were already directed by Comelec as early as May to submit documents of proof of their compliance with the requirements provided by election laws, Macalintal said. Even then, they did not question Comelec’s directive, he said.

“All party-list groups, including those disqualified, submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the Comelec without raising the issue of whether or not Comelec has authority to review the qualifications of party-lists including those who had already been previously accredited and won seats in Congress,” he said.

Therefore, it is already late for the groups to go to the SC, he said. The SC itself is not a trier of facts, which the Comelec used in disqualifying the party-list groups in the first place, he added.

“Unless Comelec violated the party-list law or abused its discretion, its decision against these party-list groups stand valid and subsisting,” Macalintal added.

Ako Bicol Political Party questioned before the high court on Tuesday the legality of Comelec’s decision that junked their bid in the elections.

“Respondent Comelec has no power to determine the qualifications of party-list representatives" and impose "arbitrary assumption that to be qualified as a party-list, petitioner must represent financially poor and destitute constituents," Ako Bicol said.