MANILA - Political parties and organizations need not represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors anymore to be allowed participation in the party-list race.
Thus ruled the Supreme Court (SC) in the case of 54 petitions filed by party-list groups disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from participating in the May 2013 party-list elections.
This decision essentially overturned the high court's previous ruling in Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. Comelec which held that for parties to qualify for the party-list elections, they must represent marginalized or underrepresented sectors.
Voting 7-6, the high court, in its recent decision, ruled that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the poll body in disqualifying petitioners because the decision was merely based on previous rulings of the high court.
However, new parameters and guidelines were laid down by the high court changing the landscape for the party-list race.
"We hold that the Comelec did not commit grave abuse of discretion in following prevailing decisions of this Court in disqualifying petitioners from participating in the coming 13 May 2013 party-list elections.
"However, since the Court adopts in this decision new parameters in the qualification of national, regional and sectoral parties under the party-list system, thereby abandoning the rulings in the decisions applied by the Comelec in disqualifying petitioners, we remand to the Comelec all the present petitions for the Comelec to determine who are qualified to register under the party-list system, and to participate in the coming 13 May 2013 party-list elections, under the new parameters prescribed in this decision," the high court said.
Those who were in the majority include: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Martin Villarama, Jr., and Jose Perez.
Those in the minority: Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Roberto Abad, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, and Marvic Leonen.
The new parameters or guidelines set by the high court for the party-list elections in this decision are the following:
1. Three different groups may participate in the party-list system: (1) national parties or organizations, (2) regional parties or organizations, and (3) sectoral parties or organizations.
2. National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent “any marginalized and underrepresented” sector.
3. Political parties can participate in party-list elections provided they register under the party-list system and do not field candidate in legislative district elections. A political party, whether major or not, that fields candidates in legislative district election can participate in party-list elections only through its sectoral wing that can separately register under the party-list system. The sectoral wing is by itself an indepedent party, and is linked to a political party through a coalition.
4. Sectoral parties or organizations may either be “marginalized and underrepresented” or lacking in “well-defined political constitutencies”. It is enough that their principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concersn of the sector. The sectors that are marginalized and underrepresented” include labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, handicapped, veterans and overseas workers. The sectors that lack well-defined political constitutencies include professionals, the elderly, women and the youth.
5. A majority of the members of sectoral parties or organization that represent the “marginalized and underrepresented” must belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector that they represent. Similarly, a majority of the members of sectoral parties or organization that lack “well defined political constituencies” must belong to the sector that they represent. The nominees of either sector must either belong to their respective sectors, or must have a track record of advocacy.
6. National, regional and sectoral parties or organizations shall not be disqualified if some of their nominees are disqualified, provided that they have at least five other nominees who remain qualified.”
However, only 41 of the 54 petitioners may still be granted their plea to participate in the May 2013 polls. The high court ruled that 13 of them, those who were not included in the Comelec's ballot printing, may no longer join in the 2013 polls but their cases are still directed remanded to the poll body for accreditation purposes under the new parameters or guidelines.
The 13 are the following:
AAB -- AKO AN BISAYA
ASIN -- ALAGAD NG SINING
ALAM -- ALAB NG MAMAMAHAYAG
ALONA -- ALLIANCE OF ORGANIZATIONS, NETWORKS AND ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILS, INC
PBB -- PARTIDO NG BAYAN ANG BIDA
PPP -- PILIPINAS PARA SA PINOY
1AAP -- 1 ALLIANCE ADVOCATING AUTONOMY
AKIN -- AKBAY KALUSUGAN INC
ALA-EH -- ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL ATHLETICS ENTREPRENEURS AND HOBBYISTS INC