• Party-list balks at decision of poll body

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    Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay), the top party list with most number of votes, on Friday rejected the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) decision to withhold one of its seats in the incoming 16th Congress.

    Buhay, in a statement issued through its lawyer, said that it is unacceptable for their group to be directly affected by the status quo ante order (SQAO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) on the disqualification cases of the Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod party-lists.

    “Comelec cannot withhold the issuance of the Certificate of Proclamation for Buhay’s three seats since it has the effect of suspending the effects of their previous proclamation without due notice and hearing, thus violating the constitutional provision on due process,” lawyer Romulo Macalintal said.

    “Such proclamation, like the proclamation of a regular winning candidate, cannot be annulled or set aside nor the effects of such proclamation be suspended without due notice
    and hearing,” he furthered.

    Macalintal also stressed that Buhay is not even a party to the petitions filed by the Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod to the High Court.

    He also added that, the Comelec should already exempt the 53 party-list seats proclaimed last May 28 from the SQAO.

    “Since Buhay had already been proclaimed, the directive to ‘reserve’ seats for the Senior Citizen and Abang Lingkod party-lists should refer only the five still un-proclaimed seats and not to the seats already proclaimed for Buhay,” the election lawyer pointed out.

    “The 53 seats of the proclaimed PLs cannot be the subject of the SQAO because it is no longer subject to any ‘reservation’ as these were already given by the Comelec when it proclaimed them and taken by the PLs upon such proclamation,” he added.

    On Thursday, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said they will withhold three seats from three winning party-list groups for now because of the SQAO issued by the SC on the poll body’s disqualification on Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod.

    “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 reporters.

    The poll chief said that they have to withhold the issuance of their certificates because their earned seats might still be affected by the decision of the SC and the remaining uncanvassed votes.

    Buhay was the only party-list that was able to get three seats.

    Meanwhile, Magdalo and An Waray were the party-lists on the tale end among the 13 groups that qualifies with two seats based on National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) Resolution 0008-13.

    Earlier, the commission had already proclaimed 38 party-list groups, entitling them to 53 seats in the incoming Congress.

    However, five more seats have yet to be filled but the poll chief admitted that proclamation would come later.

    “We will really have to apologize to the five remaining groups that we cannot proclaim . . . we just want to be very safe,” Brillantes said.

    On Wednesday, the High Court issued a SQAO on the disqualification of the poll body over the Senior Citizens and the Abang Lingkod party-list groups.

    The decision was an amendment of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the SC last week stopping the Comelec from proclaiming the last batch of the winning party-list groups.

    Johanna M. Sampan

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