MANILA, Philippines – The fate of party-list groups that are poised to win at least one seat in the 19th Congress but have pending cases before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) hangs in the balance.
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia initially said on Wednesday, May 25, that the poll body, which sits as the National Board of Canvassers (NBC), may skip proclamation of groups whose cases against them filed with the commission are still unresolved.
“If a party-list organization has a pending disqualification case before the commission, and it is not yet resolved as of the moment of the proclamation, we will not issue a certificate of proclamation in favor of the party-list organization,” Garcia said during the canvassing of votes for party-list groups on Wednesday.
“However, if the disqualification is against a nominee of the party-list, we will proclaim the party-list organization, we will issue the corresponding certificate of proclamation, but we will refrain from issuing a certificate of proclamation to the party-list nominee until the issue is resolved,” he added.
This statement did not sit well with groups under the left-leaning Makabayan bloc in Congress, whose party-list groups are facing separate unresolved cases seeking to nullify their accreditations, filed by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
A lawyer for party-list group Act Teachers even pointed out on record during Wednesday’s canvassing that after the 2019 midterm elections, party-list groups under the Makabayan bloc were proclaimed even though there were pending cases against them at the time.
On social media, Kabataan and Gabriela also made calls to include them in the proclamation of party-list groups scheduled on Thursday, May 26.
“This old, fabricated disqualification case is hinged on red-tagging and spurious claims, and should not be made as basis to withhold the proclamation of Gabriela. In fact, the case should be dismissed,” Gabriela Representative Arleen Brosas said in a statement.
“Even if we succeeded in campaigning for Kabataan, the NTF-ELCAC is trying to stop us. We will not allow it,” Kabataan said in Filipino in a separate statement.
Aside from Kabataan and Gabriela, party-list group Senior Citizens also said its motion to deny the registration of United Senior Citizens has not been resolved.
The latter’s accreditation was junked at the division level but it filed a motion for reconsideration with the Comelec en banc, a representative for Senior Citizens said during the canvassing on Wednesday.
Later on Wednesday, Garcia issued a clarification to the media, claiming that his statement was still the “subject to the conformity of the entire en banc.”
“The Comelec adheres to precedents as we have consistently proven. The statement I made is based on the rules as this was the query posited earlier. I did not say that this is what we are going to do. Nobody should second- guess the NBOC,” he told reporters on Viber.
“Better for everyone to wait for the NBOC resolution on the proclamation of party-list groups,” he added. – Rappler.com