FORMER Manila mayor and now Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Representative Lito Atienza on Tuesday said they will “exhaust all legal remedies” to prevent the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from withholding the group’s third Certificate of Proclamation.
Atienza said his group will seek the Supreme Court’s (SC) intervention on the matter because Buhay, being the top party-list winner, garnered more than 1.3 million votes that qualifies it to have three seats in the House of Representatives.
“Definitely, we will exhaust all legal remedies. All of these are questions of the law. I am sure the SC will understand and will probably support our position,” Atienza said during a weekly forum in Manila.
He pointed out that Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.’s decision to withhold the group’s certificate was baseless because Buhay is not included in the petitions filed by the Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod party-lists before the High Court.
“What the SC said was for Comelec not to touch the five remaining unfilled seats since they are still discussing the cases of Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod. The order is clear. Why would we then be included in the discussion? I don’t know where it came from,” Atienza said.
“Wala akong nakikitang reasoning why we will have to reduce one seat, samantalang kami ang top notcher with 1.3 million votes,” he added.
For the meantime, Atienza said they remain to have three seats in Congress because the Comelec chief’s statement was not official.
“If and when there is a resolution issued by the commission en banc, then we will react also on legal grounds. But, as of now, there is really no document. At this point, we have three seats,” Atienza stressed.
Last week, Brillantes said they will withhold three more seats from three winning party-list groups that the commission already proclaimed.
He explained that the decision was made because of the status quo ante order issued by the SC on the poll body’s disqualification on the Coalition of Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod party-list groups.
“What we are saying is we will issue only two seats for Buhay and one each for Magdalo and An Waray, because we want to be safe, so we are reserving more seats,” Brillantes told the reporters.
Magdalo and An Waray are the tailenders among the 13 groups that qualified for two seats based on the National Board of Canvassers (NBoC) Resolution No. 0008-13.
The Comelec had already proclaimed 38 party-list groups, entitling them to 53 seats in the incoming 16th Congress.