SC gives one party-list seat to Abang Lingkod
MANILA, Philippines – A new lawmaker will be added to the House of Representatives roster 4 months after the 16th Congress opened.
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to proclaim previously disqualified Abang Lingkod as one of the winning groups in the May party-list elections.
In its October 22 decision – made public on Wednesday, November 27 – the SC granted the petition of the group to reverse the disqualification only a few days before the May 13 polls.
Abang Lingkod is among the groups disqualified in May after they were found not to represent any marginalized sectors.
In its petition, Abang Lingkod claims they were disqualified after submitting to Comelec photographs of its activities, all with the group's name and logo digitally superimposed, as proof of their track record as a party-list group.
The Comelec stated in its resolution that "photoshopping images to establish a fact that did not occur is tantamount to declaring unlawful statements," hence barring the group from participating in the midterm elections.
The High Court, however, said the Comelec "gravely abused its discretion in cancelling the registration of Abang Lingkod under the party-list system."
The SC stated that the party-list law does not require groups to submit proof of their track record as a group, as "it is enough that their principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concerns of their sector."
Also, the Court states that evidence of track record is required only of nominees "who do not factually belong to the sector represented by their party or organization."
Nominees of Abang Lingkod are:
- Joseph Stephen Paduano
- Patrick Leonard Lacson
- William Saratobias
Lastly, the Court pointed out that the group had participated in the May 2010 elections, and was also able to get enough number of votes this year to secure a seat in Congress.
The official tally of votes shows that the group garnered 260,215 votes, or 0.91% of the total number of votes for party-list groups.
Based on the computation for party-list seat allocation, the group managed to secure one seat, allowing its number one nominee to join Congress.
The 16th Congress opened on July 22 with only 54 party-list representatives, 4 representatives short of the maximum seats allocated for the party list, which is 20% of the total seats in the House.
A day after Congress' session started, the SC ordered Comelec to proclaim two nominees from another previously-disqualified group, the Senior Citizens, after they obtained 677,642 votes or 2.38% of total votes for the party list.
Cases involving other disqualified groups are still pending with the poll body. – Rappler.com