Comelec firm on random listing of party-list groups

By Sheila Crisostomo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 22 2012 03:13 AM | Updated as of Jun 22 2012 05:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Despite opposition from some lawmakers, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will not alphabetize the list of party-list groups on ballots in next year’s elections.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the alphabetized system is confusing.

“We are just trying to put order,” he said.

“The new resolution is precisely to avoid confusion. They may only be confused because they do not seem to see the benefit of this system.”

Brillantes said those opposing the resolution doing away with the alphabetical system can just question it before the Supreme Court.

“Put their numbers in the posters just like (in 2010),” he said.

“It will be more difficult for them? There is no difference, it is also mostly ‘A’ and ‘1.’ It will be the same.”

Under Resolution No. 9467, the Comelec will raffle off the names of party-list groups to determine the order of listing in the official ballots for the 2013 polls.

The Comelec has observed that the alphabetical listing has caused an imbalance since many groups have names beginning with either letter A or number 1 to be on top of the ballots.

Under the randomized listing, party-list organizations can campaign using the number assigned to them in the ballots, just like in the 2010 polls.

Representatives Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption, Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, and Raymond Palatino of Kabataan said the system will only cause confusion among voters.

Bayan Muna asked the Comelec yesterday to reconsider its decision to list party-list groups on a random basis.

Colmenares said they will file a motion for the Comelec to abort its randomization plan.

“Our initial reaction to randomization is that the idea is good as it cuts down fake party-list groups using the senseless 1 or AAA in their names,” he said.

Colmenares said the plan could actually favor Bayan Muna.

“Because under the alphabetical system, our organization was way below in the ballot at No. 122 in 2010, and in 2013, we may even be in the tail end,” he said.

“But we realized that randomization will delay the voting as voters will take a long time to find the group they want to vote for. And delay is dangerous in an election.”

Colmenares said party-list groups would have to go on an advertising-information campaign to inform voters of their number in the ballot.

“Only the rich party-list groups can afford national television and radio ads to advertise their exact number in the ballot, while marginalized groups can’t advertise,” he said.

“Even if randomization favors us, public interest dictates that we have to object to it. The Comelec should disqualify fake party-list groups using 1 or AAA.”

The poll body is now in the process of screening party-list organizations applying to participate in the election next year. It has vowed to weed out fake applicants. – With Jess Diaz