Only one-third of 306 party-list groups can run

Published by reposted only Date posted on December 27, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Only a third of the 306 party-list groups that filed for candidacy in the 2010 elections can actually run, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said.

Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said they are still reviewing the motions for reconsideration of disqualified groups before drawing up the final list of party-list candidates.

“Maybe around one-third of the groups will be left. And hopefully we can come up with the list first week of January,” Ferrer said.

There are more party-list groups that filed their “manifestation of intent to run” in the 2010 elections compared to 200 groups that filed for candidacy in the 2007 mid-term elections, 93 of which were accredited.

“There are so many (applicants now). It’s because of the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) that 20 percent of the composition of the House of Representatives must be filled up by party-list, regardless of whether or not a group has achieved two percent of the entire votes (cast for party-list). Many have been encouraged to run,” Ferrer said.

In April this year, the SC overturned the so-called Panganiban formula used to identify winning party-list groups in the 2007 elections.

The formula has been criticized for limiting the number of party-list groups that can gain seats in the House.

Under the formula, also known as the First Party rule devised by retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, only the party-list group that got the highest number of votes can nominate three of its members to sit in the Lower House.

In its April 21 decision penned by Justice Antonio Carpio, the SC ruled that 20 percent of the total membership of the House will be reserved for party-list representatives.

Groups that secure two percent of the total votes cast in the party-list elections are guaranteed seats in the House.

The party-list system was created to give marginal groups proper representation in Congress, giving them a chance to propose and vote for laws that protect the interest of the sectors they represent.

However, some party-list groups are allegedly being used as fronts of politicians.

Ferrer said the Comelec cannot eliminate such groups on its own.

“Motu propio we cannot investigate. People might think we have vested interests. Ours is merely to entertain the applications and then we determine from the evidence that will be presented to us,” he said.

Ferrer said the Comelec relies on the public which could file disqualification cases against party-lists representing a sector which they think is not really marginalized, groups which they deem are being used by political circles.

Comelec sets requirements for BEIs

The Comelec has also set the requirements for public school teachers that will comprise the Boards of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in next year’s polls.

Comelec has given the Department of Education (DepEd) until Jan. 8 to submit the names of public school teachers who can serve in the BEIs.

In Resolution 8716, the Comelec said the provincial or city superintendents of schools should forward their lists to the election officers assigned in their area.

DepEd will make sure that teachers serving as election inspectors are not related to each other or to any candidate to be voted in the polling precincts where they are assigned, or to his or her spouse, within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity.

The resolution also stipulated that DepEd regional directors, assistant regional directors, provincial and city superintendents of schools, district supervisors, school principals, and public school teachers shall not be transferred to other positions during the election period without the written permission of the Comelec.

The Comelec has also deputized the provincial, city and municipal treasurers of the Department of Finance (DOF) to “preserve, take custody and storage of election forms, ballot boxes, paraphernalia, supplies and materials” under direct orders from election officers.

Election officers, upon the recommendation of the deputy executive director for operations, may authorize the treasurers to distribute the election materials earlier considering the weather condition, distance and number of polling precincts, difficulty of transportation, and prevailing peace and order situation.

Before early distribution of election materials, treasurers must prepare a written notice to candidates and political parties.

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) was also instructed to inform owners and operators of land and air transport facilities and telecommunication services of prohibitions during the election period.

The Omnibus Election Code prohibits any candidate or political party from giving free transportation to a public meeting, on the eve of the elections, and on the day of voting.

The election period runs from Jan. 10 to June 9, 2010. –Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star)

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