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SC: Fill up 32 remaining party list seats

Posted in house of representatives, Partylist, Supreme Court Decisions by Erineus on April 22, 2009

Court voids 2-percent rule

By Tetch Torres
First Posted 19:08:00 04/21/2009

Filed Under: Congress, Elections

MANILA, Philippines – Thirty-two partylist seats at the House of Representatives will be filled up after the Supreme Court voided the two-percent rule to determine whether a partylist should get a second or third seat in Congress.

In a 35-page decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the high tribunal granted a petition filed by the Barangay (village) Association for National Advancement (Banat) and set aside a resolution by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Voting 8-7, the court also affirmed its decision barring major political parties from participating in partylist elections directly or indirectly.

With the ruling, the party list groups Bayan Muna and Buhay will get the maximum three seats each and two seats each for the Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac), Gabriela, Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC), A-Teacher, Akbayan, Alagad, Coop-Natco, Butil, Batas, ARC, Anakpawis, Abono, Amin, Agap, and An Waray.

There are currently 23 partylist lawmakers. The law allows a maximum of 55.

“We declare unconstitutional the two percent threshold in the distribution of additional partylist seats. The allocation of additional seats under the PartyList System shall be in accordance with the procedure used in of this Decision. Major political parties are disallowed from participating in party-list elections,” the court said.

The court said that if the two-percent threshold were followed, it would present “an unwarranted obstacle to the full implementation of Section 5(2), Article 6 of the Constitution and prevents the attainment of the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives.”

Under law, a partylist group must have garnered two percent of the total votes cast for the party list election to get one seat.

According to the Comelec resolution, a partylist group must have garnered another two percent of the total votes cast, or a total of four percent, to qualify for a second seat, or a total of six percent to qualify for the maximum three seats.

But the Supreme Court said that according to the Party List Law, the second and third seat should be based on the total votes garnered by the particular party group, not the total votes cast for all partylist groups.


Partylist ruling stirs constitutional crisis

Posted in house of representatives, Partylist by Erineus on April 22, 2009

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 15:12:00 04/22/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Politics, Constitution

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) The Supreme Court decision to increase the House seats for partylist representatives to 55 could stir a “mini constitutional crisis” in the House of Representatives, a lawmaker said.

Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tanada III said that with the high tribunal’s order, the number of lawmakers would now total to 270, exceeding the limit allowed by law.

Speaker Prospero Nograles called for the immediate passage of the bill increasing congressional representatives to 300 as a way out of the possible quandary. He also said that the House would seek clarification clarification from the high tribunal on the ruling.

The Constitution fixes the composition of the House at not more than 250 members, “unless otherwise fixed by law.”

The Constitution also provides that 20 percent of the House members should be elected through a partylist system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations.

”It may have created a mini constitutional crisis in the House because the number of representatives from the House of Representatives has been fixed to be 250, now if we include the 32 party list representatives that the Supreme Court says are eligible to join the House, that would bring our number to 270,” Tanada said in an interview after the Ayes and Nays forum in Quezon City Wednesday.

”I’m not saying I’m against the inclusion of additional party list but we have to reconcile this with what is stated in the Constitution that members of the House of Representatives should not be more than 250 including partylist,” he added.

Tanada said a clarification should be sought on the tribunal’s ruling.

Nograles said the ruling was a “legal question,” even as he said that the additional partylist representatives had “breached” the allowed number of House seats.

He said the passage of the bill increasing the number of House seats might “cure any possible legal infirmity in the Constitution.”

Nograles said the House was “exploring the option of filing a petition with the Supreme Court for a declaratory relief on the issue of constitutionality as the bigger chamber of Congress is only limited to 250 members with 20 percent partylist members.”

He also said the House leadership was not in a hurry to administer the oath to the new representatives “until the constitutional issue is clarified.”

The committee on revision of laws on Wednesday approved the bills of Nograles and Iloilo Representative Raul Gonzalez Jr. to increase the number of House seats from 250 to 300.

”Meantime, it may be prudent to take things easy and wait a while for some clarification from the Supreme Court,” Nograles said.

He also said the House leadership was not in a hurry to administer the oath to the new representatives “until the constitutional issue is clarified.”

Bayan Muna partylist Representative Satur Ocampo said that while he welcomed the high tribunal’s ruling, he said the implication could be dangerous because this would mean that “special interest groups” could just organize a partylist group and join the elections if there were more slots to be filled up.

Ocampo said the Commission on Election should be “very strict” in ensuring that only marginalized groups are accredited into the partylist system.


P2.57B for 32 new partylist seats – Speaker

Posted in Congress, house of representatives, Partylist by Erineus on April 22, 2009

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 17:23:00 04/22/2009

Filed Under: Congress, Politics

MANILA, Philippines—An additional 32 partylist representatives would cost P2.57 billion for the lawmakers’ priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and operating expenses, Speaker Prospero Nograles said.

As each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to P70 million annually in PDAF or “pork barrel,” the 32 new lawmakers will mean an additional P2.24 billion budget, Nograles said.

There is also need to supplement the present House budget by P330 million for salaries of new staff and other operational expenses of the 32 new lawmakers for the remaining eight months of the year, he said.

The P330 million excludes provisions for new offices, electricity, and other needs, Nograles said.

These have no allocation under the 2009 budget, he said.

Each representative is entitled to six co-terminus staff, he said.

A four-story building, worth P700 million, is being constructed at the south wing of the complex, but this will be completed next year. Nograles said this could serve as the venue for the offices of the new congressmen.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday increased to 55 the number of seats in the House for partylist groups as it ordered the Commission on Elections to implement a new formula for allotting party list seats.

Nograles reiterated that the ruling created a “big constitutional issue” as this would bring the total of House members to 270, exceeding the limit of 250 members set by the Constitution “unless otherwise fixed by law.”