Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal has urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc to immediately act on a petition of his client, senior citizen Cecilia Lopez, to cancel the registration of the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines (CASCP), a duly registered party-list in the May 2016 elections for having two factions, making it impossible to determine the voters’ real intention.
In a statement, Macalintal said Lopez filed a petition last December 16 seeking that she be allowed to intervene in two pending petitions at the poll body where two groups are both claiming to be the rightful CASCP representative.
“It is of such urgency that Lopez’s petition be treated by the Comelec with utmost dispatch considering that said cases had been pending with the Comelec for almost a year now and had been causing too much confusion among us senior citizens,” he added.
CASCP officers Francisco Datol and Godofredo Arquiza have filed separate Manifestations of Intent to Participate in the 2016 elections, the same problem they had in the 2013 elections, which caused the non-proclamation of winning CASCP representatives.
“Since the CASCP has two factions, the Datol Wing and the Arquiza Wing, who both presented themselves to the electorate in the 2016 elections, then all votes cast for CASCP should be considered as stray votes or should not be counted since there is no way of determining the real intention of the voters, whether they voted for CASCP Datol Wing or CASCP Arquiza Wing,” Macalintal said.
Macalintal added that “by analogy, Sections 1, 4 and 14 of the Omnibus Election Code could be applied in that when the votes do not sufficiently identify the candidate for whom they were intended, said votes shall be considered as stray votes, but the ballots are still valid for other positions properly voted for by the electorate.”
Lopez also sought the cancelation of the CASCP registration on the ground that the acts of its officers Datol and Arquiza “had created confusion and continue to create confusion among the voters and the members of the senior citizens sectors thus preventing a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate as provided under Section 1(j), Rule 2 of Comelec Resolution No. 9366.”
She said the cancelation of CASCP registration is also justified “because the disputes between the officers of CASCP denied the party-list seats in the 2010 and 2013 elections or it had not effectively won any seat for two consecutive elections as provided for under Section 6(7) of Republic Act 7941, the Party List Law.”
Canceling the CASCP registration and treating votes cast for it as stray votes, according to Lopez, “will serve a lesson to party-list groups similarly situated wherein their officers and members continue to have disputes negating the very purpose and objectives of a party-list system that of unifying people belonging to same sectors of society.”
She asked the Comelec to set her petition for hearing for further clarification.