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How to fill the 58 party-list seats

Felix P. Muga II
Posted on 05/20/2013 12:47 AM  | Updated 05/22/2013 6:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines – As of 4:30 p.m. of May 17, the Comelec website showed 14 party list groups that obtained at least 2% of the total number of party list votes. We shall call them the two-percenters.

However, Rappler’s website reported 13 two-percenters only even though the two websites had the same number of votes for each of the party list groups.

The 14th two-percenters in the Comelec website was Magdalo, with 451,377 votes. The website reported 22,574,337 for the total number of party list votes (TPLV) . At the Rappler’s website Magdalo had the same figure. The TPLV was also identical.

The party list law (Republic Act Number 7941) requires that the percentage share of the total party list votes of each party list groups shall be computed. It is determined by the formula:

Total votes obtained by a Party List Group x 100%

If the percentage share of Magdalo is expressed in two decimal places we have:

451,377 x 100% = 2.00%

If it is expressed in six decimal places we have:

451,377 x 100% = 1.999595%

Since the Comelec website is expressing the percentage share in two decimal places it considered Magdalo as a two-percenter. Rappler must be using 4 or more decimal places since it did not place Magdalo in the list of two-percenters.

The importance of the two percent

Since 1998 the Comelec has already used 3 different formulas in determining the number of seats to be allocated to a party list group. But what is common to all of these formulas is to guarantee one seat each to the two-percenters.

The latest formula was mandated by the Supreme Court decision (G.R. 179271) in 2009. It ordered that “The allocation of additional seats under the Party-List System shall be in accordance with the procedure used in Table 3 of this Decision.”

Note that the two-percenters are given one guaranteed seats each. Then the remaining number of seats after the guaranteed seats are given is distributed in two stages.

In the first stage, additional number of seats is given to the two-percenters by determining the whole number obtained when the percentage share of the party list group is multiplied by the remaining number of seats.

Suppose, for example, that there are 40 remaining seats.

  1. if Party List A (PL-A) has 6% of the TPLV then 6% x 40 = 2.4. Thus, PL-A is given 2 additional seats.
  2. If Party List (PL-B) has 3% of the TPLV then 3% x 40 = 1.2. Thus, PL-B is given 1 additional seat.
  3. If Party List (PL-C) has 2% of the TPLV then 2% x 40 = 0.8. Thus, PL-C is not given an additional seat.

There is a second stage if there are still vacant seats.

In the second stage, one seat is awarded to the highest ranking (in terms of percentage share) party list group that did not receive any additional seat in the first stage. If there are still vacant seats, then one seat is awarded each to the next ranking party list groups until all the vacant seats are given.

Therefore, a party list group with at least two percent of the TPLV is always assured of at least two seats by the Supreme Court Decision (See Table 3 of the Decision).

Obtaining 3 seats

In a proportional party list system, if a party list group has 10% of the total party list votes then it will be awarded 10% of the total party list seats.

The Philippine party list system is not proportional since our party list law provides a ceiling of 3 seats that party list group may obtain.

A two-percenter may be able to get 3 seats if its percentage share of the TPLV is greater than or equal to the following:

2 x 100%
Available Number of Party List Seats - Number of Two-Percenters

In the 2013 party list election there are 58 available party list seats. If the final canvassing has 13 two-percenters, then a two-percenter with at least [ 2 / ( 58 - 13 ) ] x 100% = 4.444444%.

Since Buhay the leading party list group in the 4:30 p.m. May 17 posting of the Comelec website had 4.680620% of TPLV, it will be awarded 3 seats if it were the final posting.

The table below shows the percentage share of TPLV needed to get 3 seats given the number of Two-Percenters.

Number of Two-Percenters Percentage Needed for 3 Seats
10 4.166667%
11 4.255319%
12 4.347826%
13 4.444444%
14 4.545455%
15 4.651163%
16 4.761905%
17 4.878049%
18 5.000000%
19 5.128205%
20 5.263158%


Felix P. Muga II, PhD, is associate professor of mathematics at the Ateneo de Manila University and a fellow of the think tank Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG).

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