Party-list groups win 1st round at SC

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 13 2012 04:10 PM | Updated as of Nov 14 2012 12:20 AM

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Supreme Court (SC) prevented the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday from implementing its resolution that disqualifies 4 party-list groups from participating in the 2013 mid-term polls.

Well-placed ABS-CBN sources bared that the high court, in its en banc session, issued a status quo ante order (SQAO) in favor of AKO BICOL (AKB), Association of Philippine Electric Cooperative (APEC), 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy, Inc. (1-CARE), and Alliance of Rural Concerns (ARC), and ordered the Comelec to file its comment on the petitions.

The SQAO essentially preserves the status quo prior to the disqualification of the petitioners.

In their petitions, AKB, APEC, 1-CARE, and ARC claimed that the poll body committed grave abuse of discretion in cancelling their respective accreditation. They also assailed the Comelec for violating their right to due process.

They pointed out that Republic Act (RA) No. 7941 or the Party-list System Act does not provide for a re-determination of compliance by the Comelec of an already accredited and duly registered party-list organization.

The Comelec said it will "honor and respect" the high court's order.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the poll body hopes that the merits of the consolidated petitions will be decided before January 2013 in time for the printing of the ballots.

Asked what the Comelec will do should a ruling not be handed down by then, Sarmiento said the 4 party-list groups shall then be retained on the ballot.

Sources said the high court intends to rule on the merits of the case on or before Feb. 12, the start of the official campaign period.