Thursday, February 23, 2012

BANAT vs. COMELEC , GR 17927 [ April 21, 2009 ]

Facts: Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) filed before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) a petition to proclaim the full number of party list representatives provided by the Constitution. However, the recommendation of the head of the legal group of COMELEC’s national board of canvassers to declare the petition moot and academic was approved by the COMELEC en banc, and declared further in a resolution that the winning party list will be resolved using the Veterans ruling. BANAT then filed a petition before the SC assailing said resolution of the COMELEC. 

Issues: 
(1)     Is the 20% allocation for party-list representatives provided in Sec 5 (2), Art VI of the Constitution mandatory or is it merely a ceiling? 

(2)    Is the 2% threshold and “qualifier” votes prescribed by the same Sec 11 (b) of RA 7941 constitutional? 

(3)     Does the Constitution prohibit major political parties from participating in the party-list elections? If not, can major political parties participate in the party-list elections? 

Held:
(1)    Neither the Constitution nor RA 7941 mandates the filling up of the entire 20% allocation of party-list representatives found in the Constitution. The Constitution, in paragraph 1, Sec 5 of Art VI, left the determination of the number of the members of the House of Representatives to Congress. The 20% allocation of party-list representatives is merely a ceiling; party-list representatives cannot be more then 20% of the members of the House of Representatives. 

(2)    No. We rule that, in computing the allocation of additional seats, the continued operation of the two percent threshold for the distribution of the additional seats as found in the second clause of Sec 11(b) of RA 7941 is unconstitutional. This Court finds that the two percent threshold makes it mathematically impossible to achieve the maximum number of available party-list seats when the available party-list seat exceeds 50. The continued operation of the two percent 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.We therefore strike down the two percent threshold only in relation to the distribution of the additional seats as found in the second clause of Sec 11 (b) of RA 7941. The two percent threshold presents an unwarranted obstacle to the full implementation of Sec 5 (2), Art 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)    No. Neither the Constitution nor RA 7941 prohibits major political parties from participating in the party-list system. On the contrary, the framers of the Constitution clearly intended the major political parties to participate in party-list elections through their sectoral wings. However, by 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. 


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