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BANAT v COMELEC

BANAT v COMELEC

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Published by Stef Macapagal
21 april 2009 political law case digest on the allocation of seats for party-list representatives
21 april 2009 political law case digest on the allocation of seats for party-list representatives

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Published by: Stef Macapagal on Jul 22, 2010
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BANAT v. COMELEC GR Nos. 179271 & 179295, 21 April 2009 Carpio, J.

Facts: COMELEC applied the Veterans Federation Party v. COMELEC formula upon the completion of the canvass and party-list results, thereby proclaiming 15 party-lists to have obtained 21 seats in Congress. Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) filed a petition to proclaim the full number of party-list representatives (all 55 seats have to be proclaimed) provided by the Constitution before the COMELEC en banc. The COMELEC denied the said petition, stating that it had already become moot and academic. Issues and Ruling: 1. W/N the three-seat limit provided in Section 11(b) of RA 7941 is constitutional. YES. The three-seat cap, as a limitation to the number of seats that a qualified party-list organization may occupy, remains a valid statutory device that prevents any party from dominating the party-list elections. 2. W/N the 2% threshold and qualifier votes prescribed in Section 11(b) of RA 7941 is constitutional. NO. In computing the allocation of additional seats, the continued operation of the 2% threshold for the distribution of the additional seats as found in the second clause of Section 11(b) of RA 7941 is unconstitutional. The Court finds that the 2% threshold makes it mathematically impossible to achieve the maximum number of available party list seats when the number of available party list seats exceeds 50. The continued operation of the 2% threshold in the distribution of the additional seats frustrates the attainment of the permissive ceiling that 20% of the members of the House of Representatives shall consist of party-list representatives. The Court strikes down the 2% threshold only in relation to the distribution of the additional seats as found in the second clause of Section 11(b) of RA 7941.1 The 2% threshold presents an unwarranted obstacle to the full implementation of Section 5(2), Article VI of the Constitution and prevents the attainment of “the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives. 3. How shall the party-list representatives be allocated? In determining the allocation of seats for party-list representatives under Section 11 of RA 7941, the following procedure shall be observed: (1) The parties, organizations, and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections. (2) The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least 2% of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one guaranteed seat each. (3) Those garnering sufficient number of votes, according to the ranking in paragraph 1, shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes until all the additional seats are allocated. (4) Each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than 3 seats. In computing the additional seats, the guaranteed seats shall no longer be included because they have already been allocated, at one seat each, to every two-percenter. Thus, the remaining available seats for allocation as “additional seats” are the maximum seats reserved under the Party List System less the guaranteed seats. Fractional seats are disregarded in the absence of a provision in RA 7941 allowing for a rounding off of fractional seats. 4.
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Does the Constitution prohibit the major political parties from participating in the party-list elections? If not, can the major political parties be barred from participating in the party-list elections?

Section 11. Number of Party-List Representatives. In determining the allocation of seats for the second vote, the following procedure shall be observed: (a) The parties, organizations, and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections. (b) The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least 2% of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one seat each: Provided, that those garnering more than 2% of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes: Provided, finally, that each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than three seats.

NO. Political parties, particularly minority political parties, are not prohibited to participate in the party list election if they can prove that they are also organized along sectoral lines. Neither the Constitution nor RA 7941 prohibits major political parties from participating in party-list elections through their sectoral wings. In fact, the members of the Constitutional Commission voted down any permanent sectoral seats, and in the alternative the reservation of the party-list system to the sectoral groups. In defining a “party” that participates in party-list elections as either “a political party or a sectoral party,” RA 7941 also clearly intended that major political parties will participate in the party-list elections. Excluding the major political parties in party-list elections is manifestly against the Constitution, the intent of the Constitutional Commission, and RA 7941. Furthermore, under Section 9 of RA 7941, it is not necessary that the party-list organization’s nominee “wallow in poverty, destitution, and infirmity” as there is no financial status required in law. It is enough that the nominee of the sectoral party/organization/coalition belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors. However, by a vote of 8-7, the Court decided to continue the ruling in Veterans disallowing major political parties from participating in the party-list elections, directly or indirectly. According to Chief Justice Puno’s dissent, the party-list representatives are no match to our traditional political parties in the political arena; and that if major political parties are allowed to participate in the party-list system electoral process, the voices of the marginalized would be surely suffocated, and that the democratic spirit of the Constitution would be betrayed. He cited the 2001 party-list elections where the major political parties figured in the disproportionate distribution of votes. 8 Justices concurred. Additional Note: Justice Nachura concurs with Justice Carpio and further adds that the 2% threshold vote required for entitlement by a political party-list group to a seat in the HR in RA 7941 is unconstitutional because, according to him, there will never be a situation where the number of party-list representatives will exceed 50, regardless of the number of district representatives. He then submits the standard of “proportional representation” and the adoption of a gradually regressive threshold vote requirement, inversely proportional to the increase in the number of party-list seats. He proposes this new formula for the threshold: 100% (total number of votes cast for party-list) -------------------------------------------------------- =1.818% 55 party-list seats And that the minimum vote requirement should gradually lessen as the number of party-list seats increases. Doctrines: A Philippine-style party-list election has at least four inviolable parameters: 1. 20% allocation. The combined number of all party-list congressmen shall not exceed 20% of the total membership of the House of Representatives, including those elected under the party list; 2. 2% threshold. Only those parties garnering a minimum of 2% of the total valid votes cast for the party-list system are qualified to have a seat in the House of Representatives; 3. Three-seat limit. Each qualified party, regardless of the number of votes it actually obtained, is entitled to a maximum of three seats; that is, one qualifying and two additional seats; 4. Proportional representation. The additional seats which a qualified party is entitled to shall be computed in proportion to their total number of votes. In declaring the 2% threshold unconstitutional, the Court does not limit the allocation of additional seats to the twopercenters. The percentage of votes garnered by each party-list candidate is arrived at by dividing the number of votes garnered by each party by the total number of votes cast for party-list candidates. There are two steps in the second round of seat allocation. First, the percentage is multiplied by the remaining available seats (the difference between the maximum seats reserved under the Party-List System and the guaranteed seats of the two-percenters). The whole integer of the product of the percentage and of the remaining available seats corresponds to a party’s share in the remaining available seats. Second, one party-list seat is assigned to each of the parties next in rank until all available seats are completely distributed. Finally, the three-seat cap is applied to determine the number of seats each qualified party-list candidate is entitled.

The 20% allocation of party-list representatives is merely a ceiling; party-list representatives cannot be more than 20% of the members of the House of Representatives. Obiter: It is the intent of the sovereign people that matters in interpreting the Constitution. It is ironic, therefore, that the marginalized and underrepresented in our midst are the majority who wallow in poverty, destitution, and infirmity. It was for them the party-list system was enacted—to give them not only genuine hope, but genuine power; to give them the opportunity to be elected and to represent the specific concerns of their constituencies; and simply to give them a direct voice in Congress and in the larger affairs of the State. Time changes and the laws change with it. – Justice Nachura

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