MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 1) - Regional political party Ako Bicol (AKB) filed with the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday a petition questioning its disqualification from the 2013 midterm polls' party-list race by the Commission on Elections.
In its 75-page petition, Ako Bicol urged the High Court to prevent Comelec from implementing its October10 Resolution that disqualified the party for not belonging to marginalized sectors.
The immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction by the high court was sought by the group.
Ako Bicol claimed that the poll body "acted beyond its power in adjudging its qualification as a party-list" since no less than Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes had reportedly admitted that "there is no exact legal definition for 'marginalized and underrepresented sector.'"
"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 pointed out.
The group also said that it was not accorded due process and the opportunity to be heard since it "was not given notice stating the grounds for investigation or review for its accreditation as a party-list."
Ako Bicol insisted that it is qualified under the party-list system as previously ruled twice in the past by the Comelec.
The group was first accredited and registered by the poll body in 2009. The next year, in 2010, the Comelec affirmed Ako Bicol’s accreditation by dismissing a petition that sought the cancellation of its accreditation and registration.
In the 2010 polls, Ako Bicol won the most number of votes in the party-list race, with 1,522,986 votes, representing 5% of the total votes cast.
"Comelec is in serious error to hold in its Resolution dated 10 Oct. 2012 that, for petitioner AKB to qualify as a party-list, it must represent sectors mentioned in the Constitution or in RA 7941 (Part-list System Act), namely, labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals, and LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders).
"A party-list must represent marginalized and under-represented group(s), but it is a mistake to thing that these sectors are the only marginalized and under-represented sectors of society and further that these sectors are necessarily financially poor and destitute," the petition read.
The petition was filed by the group's counsels, former SC Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza and Atty. Alfedo Molo III.