Comelec hit for late naming of dominant parties

Paterno Esmaquel II
Comelec hit for late naming of dominant parties
The opposition Liberal Party says this gives them no time to appeal the naming of the Duterte-allied Nacionalista Party as the dominant minority party

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) drew flak for naming the dominant majority and dominant minority parties just 5 days before the May 13 elections, preventing the opposition Liberal Party (LP) from filing an appeal.

The Comelec on Wednesday, May 8, accredited parties allied with President Rodrigo Duterte as the dominant majority and dominant minority parties in this year’s elections. Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban, was named the dominant majority party while the Villar-led Nacionalista Party was made the dominant minority party.

This decision by Comelec is late compared to the same rulings in the past two automated elections under then-president Benigno Aquino III. 

In both the 2013 and 2016 elections, the Aquino-led LP was accredited as the dominant majority party, while the Binay-led United Nationalist Alliance opposition ticket was named the dominant minority party.

For the 2013 elections, held on May 13 of that year, the Comelec released its decision on the dominant parties on March 19, 2013. For the 2016 elections, held on May 9 of that year, the poll body issued its ruling on the same matter on April 14, 2016.  

Liberal Party (LP) president Senator Francis Pangilinan scored the Comelec for publicizing its decision on the dominant parties less than a week before elections. Reporters found out about the Comelec resolution only on Thursday, May 9, while the Comelec published it on its website on Friday, May 10.

Pangilinan said in a Facebook post on Friday: “Lumabas ang desisyon kahapon, May 9, 2019, o 4 na araw na lang bago ang araw ng eleksyon. Wala nang oras mag-apela. Sinadya ba ito?” (The decision was released yesterday, May 9, 2019, or just 4 days before elections. We no longer have time to appeal. Was this done on purpose?)

Malaking kalokohan. Dapat tutulan. Tututulan hanggang sa Korte Suprema. No retreat! Never surrender!” Pangilinan added. (This is such a big foolishness. We should oppose this. We will oppose this until the Supreme Court. No retreat! Never surrender!)

Perks received by dominant parties

Rappler is still trying to reach the Comelec for an explanation why the Comelec released its decision late.

Dominant parties receive perks such as the following, according to Comelec Resolution No. 10538:

  • Being “entitled to one official watcher in every polling place and canvassing center”
  • Receiving “copies of the election returns and certificates of canvass”

In a memorandum to the Comelec en banc on Tuesday, May 7, Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia pointed out: “The purpose of determining which are the dominant majority and minority parties is to ensure fairness in treating contending or opposing political groups. This purpose will not be served if the dominant minority party also comes from the majority.”

Guia dissented from the Comelec decision to name Nacionalista Party as the dominant minority party in this year’s elections. Commissioner Rowena Guanzon concurred with Guia, in effect dissenting as well.

“With the current polarized political climate, it is not hard to divine which group belongs to the majority or minority,” Guia said. –

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at