MANILA, Philippines — TheMonday proclaimed the first 13 winners in the party-list elections held on May 14, allowing at least their first nominees to finally sit in the 14th Congress.
In a six-page resolution, the Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, proclaimed Buhay with 1,163,218 votes; Bayan Muna, 927,730; Cibac, 760,260; Gabriela, 610,451; Apec, 538,971; A Teacher, 476,036; Akbayan, 470,872; Alagad, 423,076; Butil, 405,052; Coop-Natco, 390,029; Anakpawis, 376,036; Alliance of Rural Concerns, 338,194, and Abono, 337,046.
This is “without prejudice to the proclamation of the other party-lists which will get 2 percent of the total number of party-list votes,” it said.
The resolution, read before the national canvassing began at around 4 p.m., caught everyone at the Comelec session hall in Intramuros, Manila, by surprise.
Even Bayan Muna’s third nominee and legal counsel, Neri Colmenares, had to ask the NBC if this was indeed the official proclamation of the party-list groups.
“We were not even invited or notified about our own proclamation. This proves once again the Comelec’s dismissive and discriminatory attitude toward the party-list system,” said Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros in a text message to journalists.
‘Party, not nominee’
Explaining why the poll body did not invite the nominees to the proclamation, Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. said in a press conference early Monday night: “It’s the party that has been proclaimed and not the nominee.”
The Comelec proclaimed those that had already garnered at least 334,462 votes, the equivalent to 2 percent of the projected maximum total party-list votes pegged at 16,723,121.
Only the winning groups’ first nominees are recognized at the moment, Abalos said. But he added that it would be safe to say that Buhay, which garnered more than a million votes, bagged three seats.
The Comelec resolution cited the first-party rule, or the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) formula in determining the additional number of seats for the party-list groups after Buhay. Also known as the Panganiban formula, the VFP formula means that the additional number of seats of a party-list group is pegged on the number of votes of the first, or No. 1, party.
The Supreme Court upheld the formula in April, which was derived from its ruling of the VFP case in October 2000.
Cibac has explained the scheme, through Dr. Felix P. Muga II of the Mathematics Department of the Ateneo de Manila University:
The formula allocates one seat to the parties with at least 2 percent of the total party-list votes. The additional number of seats is computed by dividing the number of votes of the concerned party by the number of votes of the first party. The quotient is multiplied by the additional number of seats of the first party.
The integer part or the whole part of this computation is the additional number of seats of the concerned party.
The Supreme Court refers to the “first party” as the party-list group that obtained the highest votes in the party-list election. The first party has one additional seat if it garnered at least 4 percent but less than 6 percent of the total number of party-list votes, or it has two additional seats if it obtained at least 6 percent of the total number of party-list votes.
The formula imposes a three-seat cap consistent with the provision of the Party-List System Act, or Republic Act No. 7941.
Colmenares told reporters Monday that Bayan Muna will ask the Supreme Court to declare the first party rule unconstitutional.
Various party-list organizations had been asking the Comelec to proclaim those that had already reached the 2-percent threshold. They stressed that the marginalized sectors had become “disenfranchised” in the 14th Congress, which has begun important activities such as the selection of the next House Speaker.
Even if it was already assured of three seats in the House of Representatives, Buhay still has to contend with a problem of which of its two factions will represent the group.
“Only the Commission on Elections, acting as a court of law, can decide on that matter and there can only be one decision — either they grant our petition or the other group’s petition,” Buhay Rep. Hans Christian Señeres told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone Monday.
Two sets of nominees have been submitted to the Comelec. Buhay president Mel Robles, an El Shaddai leader who heads the Light Rail Transit Authority, sent one list naming Rene Velarde, son of the Catholic charismatic movement’s top personality Bro. Mariano “Mike” Velarde, Ma. Carissa Coscolluela, William Irwin Tieng, Melchor Monsod and Teresita Villarama.
The other list was submitted by Señeres, Buhay acting secretary general who represented the group in the 13th Congress together with the young Velarde. Robles, he noted, was already considered resigned when he forwarded his own set of nominees before the elections.
When asked if he was willing to accept or offer an amicable settlement with Robles’ group, Señeres said: “The party-list law is very strict; we can’t just change the nominees even if someone asks for a negotiation.”
He said the Comelec could not even offer such idea because it was not a mediation board.
But Señeres was optimistic that it will uphold his list of nominees composed of himself, Hermenigildo Dumlao, Antonio Bautista, Victor Pablo Trinidad and Eduardo Solangon Jr.
‘Better late than never’
In a press statement, detained Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran, the group’s first nominee, was relieved over the Comelec’s announcement and called for the immediate formal proclamation and swearing in of the winners.
“Better late than never. There have been strong suspicions that the Comelec has been deliberately sitting on the results of the party-list polls and delaying the announcement of winners in acquiescence to some scheme of Malacañang and the National Security Council to deny the progressive party-lists Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) of their hard-earned victory,” said Beltran.
“The Comelec should immediately expedite the process of the swearing in of the nominees of the winning party-lists. No time should be wasted. There has been too much delay already. We fought long and hard for our victory, and it’s an insult against our members and supporters that we have yet to be proclaimed,” he added.
The proclamation of the party-list group Batas was deferred pending the Comelec’s resolution of a petition to cancel its registration.
The list of proclaimed winners will be forwarded to the House of Representatives.
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