Party-list group cries contempt vs Comelec
MANILA, Philippines – Dismayed that its name was withdrawn from the ballot, a disqualified party-list applicant ran to the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, January 10, to cite the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for contempt of court.
For the group Alab ng Mamamahayag (Alam), the Comelec committed “blatant disobedience” to the SC when it removed the group, along with 12 others, from the ballot for the 2013 polls. The group also said the Comelec violated a resolution dated June 15, 2012 when it excluded it from the raffle along with 12 others.
The group complained about a Comelec resolution on Monday, January 7, that withdrew the names of 13 new party-list applicants from the ballot. The poll body ordered this after it "inadvertently" included them, due to clerical error, in an unprecedented raffle of ballot slots last Friday, January 4.
The group Alam, along with over 80 other groups, got an SC reprieve in the form status quo ante (SQA) orders. Alam noted that SQAs directed all parties to “observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the Comelec resolutions.”
Alam said that by excluding them, the Comelec "contemptuously insulted" the SC.
“The status quo orders mean that Comelec cannot make any act that will violate whatever rights existing before the issuance of the election body’s denial of the applications for accreditation of Alam and 12 other new partylist groups,” said Alam president Berteni "Toto" Cataluña Causing.
Weeks before the raffle, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr consistently said the status quo of new applicants, like Alam, is that they remain unaccredited. Only groups already accredited in 2010, like Mikey Arroyo's Ang Galing Pinoy, have "accredited" as status quo.
On Dec 19, 2012, Comelec also issued Resolution No 9591 that said among the disqualified groups, the raffle should only include the previously accredited ones that received an SQA. Alam was not among these.
Th December resolution sought to clarify the rules, promulgated in previous resolutions, on who may join the raffle. It also amended a section of Comelec Resolution No 9467, issued on June 15, 2012, that initially set the raffle rules.
Alam, however, cited the June 15 resolution to defend its claim. It quoted the resolution as saying: “Party-list groups/coalitions whose petitions for accreditation have been denied by the commission and have pending petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the decision of the commission shall also be allowed to participate in the raffle.”
Causing noted that the Comelec had not promulgated a resolution to amend Resolution No. 9467 as of Nov 7, 2012, when the poll body denied Alam's accreditation.
“It simply means that the status quo orders of the Supreme Court ordered the Comelec not to destroy the rights to join the raffle under Resolution No. 9467. It was already a matter of right for Alam and 12 other similarly-situated partylist groups, that cannot be destroyed by the poll body,” Causing said.
Causing noted that on March 20, 2011, the SC already cited the Comelec for contempt after it failed to include the group Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc on the 2010 ballot.
The basis of the contempt charge then, however, was different from Alam's case.
Based on the SC resolution, the Comelec cited “insurmountable and tremendous operational constraints and costs implications in complying with the status quo order.”
The SC found the Comelec's explanation “unacceptable” because the Comelec's self-imposed deadline for revising the ballot was Feb 4, 2010. The SC then issued the status quo order on Feb 2, 2010.
Alam's complaint came amid Comelec's unprecedented purge of party-list groups – the first time that the poll body disqualified up to two-thirds of original applicants for the party list. The party-list raffle last January 4 was also a first for the Comelec. – Rappler.com