Three party-lists to get seats in Congress

Posted on July 22, 2013

THREE ADDITIONAL party-list groups have been assured of seats in the House of Representatives, leaving only two vacancies to be filled up in the 16th Congress which opens session today.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), proclaimed Ang National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples (ANAC-IP), Agbiag! Timpuyog Ilocano, Inc. (AGBIAG), and Append, Inc. (Append) as winners during the midterm elections last May.

Nominees who will sit for the party-lists are Jose T. Panganiban, Jr. (ANAC-IP), incumbent Rep. Patricio T. Antonio (Agbiag) and Pablo R. Nava III (Append).

In NBOC Resolution 0020-13 promulgated on July 19, the three party-lists were given one seat apiece, bringing the number of proclaimed seats to 56 representing 41 groups.

The remaining two seats are reserved for Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod whom the Comelec disqualified but were granted a stay order by the Supreme Court.

Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. said in May the winning party-lists may still change based on how the high court will decide on the disqualification cases of Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod, a peasant farmer group.

Based on NBOC Resolution 08-13, Senior Citizens obtained 677,642 votes which would entitle it to two seats while Abang Lingkod could obtain one seat with 260,215 votes if the high court will issue a favorable decision.

Party-list seats are allocated based on a 2009 high court formula whereby groups that obtain at least 2% of the total party-list votes have a guaranteed seat. Additional seats are allotted based on the party-list rank and percentage in relation to the unfilled seats.

The Comelec tallied more than 26.72 million votes for party-list groups. However, the total party-list votes may climb to 27 million if the votes of the two disqualified are counted.

The Comelec disqualified Senior Citizens after the group entered into an “illegal term-sharing” agreement whereby the second nominee quit to pave the way for the third nominee to sit in Congress. The group said the deal fell through.

Party-lists are allocated 58 seats in the House of Representatives, or about 20% of the chamber’s membership.

Meanwhile, voter registration for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls will start today, according to the Comelec.

Comelec spokesperson and Director James Arthur B. Jimenez reminded the public through his Twitter account that voter listing will be from July 22 to 31 in Comelec field offices nationwide.

Registration will be from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., including weekends.

The continuing registration will include new voters, registered voters who will transfer or change registration records, and reactivation of records.

The applications will be filed with the Office of the Election Officer where the applicant resides. Qualified voters are Filipinos who are at least 18 years old on Oct. 28, 2013, a resident of the place he/she intends to vote for at least six months before election day and not disqualified by law.

Qualified SK voters should at least be 15 years old but not more than 18 years old on Oct. 28.

Mr. Jimenez said voter validation remains suspended. The poll body suspended indefinitely on July 12 the implementation of mandatory biometrics to focus on preparations for the October elections.

The Comelec originally scheduled the validation of records starting July 1.

As this developed, the Supreme Court (SC) granted reprieve to a winning Ilocos Norte mayor disqualified by the Comelec last April.

According to an SC Public Information Summary, the clerk of court issued a stay order in the disqualification of Marcos Mayor Arsenio A. Agustin.

The Comelec on April 23, canceled the certificate of candidacy of Mr. Agustin for failing to comply with the one-year residency requirement for mayoralty bets.

The issue stemmed from a disqualification case filed by his rival, Salvador S. Pillos, on Oct. 23, 2012. On Jan. 28, the Comelec second division denied the petition for lack of merit. This was, however, reversed by the full commission and granted Mr. Pillos’s appeal.

Mr. Agustin then filed a petition for review with the SC on May 28 that sought to reverse the Comelec decision to disqualify him. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores