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Postpone party list polls to October 2013


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials…” (Exodus 18:21, the Holy Bible).

SC MUST ORDER REVIEW OF ALL PARTY LISTS NOW: I wonder if the Supreme Court can still be persuaded to similarly toss to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at this point the cases of the 28 remaining party list groups which also went to the tribunal after the poll body denied their petitions for accreditation shortly before Christmas 2012.

My submission is that since the Supreme Court already asked the Comelec in a resolution it issued on April 05, 2013 to review the status of 52 other party list groups---39 of them still qualified to join the May 2013 elections but which were disqualified by the Sixto Brillantes Jr.-led poll body anyway, and 13 of them being new applicants but whose applications were rejected by the poll body outright---the status of the 28 remaining party lists could also be reviewed at the same time.

From the point of the law, as well as of expediency, it would serve the ends of justice and fairness for all party list applicants better if their status are jointly determined, in just one sitting, and not on a staggered basis. This joint determination of the qualifications of all party list groups will even be less expensive, and would be more in accord with the new guidelines that the Supreme Court itself directed the Comelec to observe.

USE ONLY ONE GUIDELINE FOR PARTY LISTS: This way, all the groups wishing to be recognized and later on elected as party list organizations under the party list system of representation provided for by the 1987 Constitution and by the existing party list law, Republic Act 7941, could be subjected to only one and the same guidelines which the tribunal itself laid down.

Which should really be the case, considering that all party list organizations must be measured, calibrated and gauged by just one standard, to avoid senseless, wasteful, and even harmful talk that one or the other party list group is not really qualified, or is representing a sector that is not marginalized or underrepresented, and hence is serving illegally, squandering the people’s money.

If the Supreme Court once and for all directs a one-time study of all party list groups, whether already accredited or not yet, and whether already allowed to join in the May 2013 elections or not yet, we may yet empower this system of representing the marginalized and underrepresented towards being more useful along the lines envisioned by the framers of the 1987 Constitution.

POSTPONE PARTY LIST POLLS TO OCTOBER 2013: There should be no problem about the additional period of time that the Comelec may need for evaluating party list groups according to the Supreme Court guidelines. The remedy is to follow the suggestion of well-known election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, that the party list elections be postponed until about October 2013.

What Macalintal is saying is that, since there is going to be an election for barangay officials in October 2013, the elections for party list groups can be held simultaneously with that barangay elections. That way, the Comelec is given the opportunity to comply with the Supreme Court’s directive, as party list groups are given the opportunity to really prove their qualifications to run and be elected.

Certainly, no new funding would be needed for the postponed party list elections, since an election for new barangay officials is going to be held anyway. As it were, the ballots that would be prepared for the barangay elections could contain the list of party list groups that have been allowed to run under the new Supreme Court guidelines.

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