BANAT vs COMELEC (April 2009)
Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 179271 April 21, 2009
BARANGAY ASSOCIATION FOR NATIONAL ADVANCEMENT AND TRANSPARENCY (BANAT), Petitioner,
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (sitting as the National Board of Canvassers), Respondent.
ARTS BUSINESS AND SCIENCE PROFESSIONALS, Intervenor.
AANGAT TAYO, Intervenor.
COALITION OF ASSOCIATIONS OF SENIOR CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES, INC. (SENIOR CITIZENS), Intervenor.
G.R. No. 179295 April 21, 2009
BAYAN MUNA, ADVOCACY FOR TEACHER EMPOWERMENT THROUGH ACTION, COOPERATION AND HARMONY TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL REFORMS, INC., and ABONO, Petitioners,
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Petitioner in G.R. No. 179271 — Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) — in a petition for certiorari and mandamus,1 assails the Resolution2 promulgated on 3 August 2007 by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in NBC No. 07-041 (PL). The COMELEC’s resolution in NBC No. 07-041 (PL) approved the recommendation of Atty. Alioden D. Dalaig, Head of the National Board of Canvassers (NBC) Legal Group, to deny the petition of BANAT for being moot. BANAT filed before the COMELEC En Banc, acting as NBC, a Petition to Proclaim the Full Number of Party-List Representatives Provided by the Constitution.
The following are intervenors in G.R. No. 179271: Arts Business and Science Professionals (ABS), Aangat Tayo (AT), and Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines, Inc. (Senior Citizens).
Petitioners in G.R. No. 179295 — Bayan Muna, Abono, and Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment Through Action, Cooperation and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms (A Teacher) — in a petition for certiorari with mandamus and prohibition,3 assails NBC Resolution No. 07-604 promulgated on 9 July 2007. NBC No. 07-60 made a partial proclamation of parties, organizations and coalitions that obtained at least two percent of the total votes cast under the Party-List System. The COMELEC announced that, upon completion of the canvass of the party-list results, it would determine the total number of seats of each winning party, organization, or coalition in accordance with Veterans Federation Party v. COMELEC5 (Veterans).
Estrella DL Santos, in her capacity as President and First Nominee of the Veterans Freedom Party, filed a motion to intervene in both G.R. Nos. 179271 and 179295.
The 14 May 2007 elections included the elections for the party-list representatives. The COMELEC counted 15,950,900 votes cast for 93 parties under the Party-List System.6
On 27 June 2007, BANAT filed a Petition to Proclaim the Full Number of Party-List Representatives Provided by the Constitution, docketed as NBC No. 07-041 (PL) before the NBC. BANAT filed its petition because “[t]he Chairman and the Members of the [COMELEC] have recently been quoted in the national papers that the [COMELEC] is duty bound to and shall implement the Veterans ruling, that is, would apply the Panganiban formula in allocating party-list seats.”7 There were no intervenors in BANAT’s petition before the NBC. BANAT filed a memorandum on 19 July 2007.
On 9 July 2007, the COMELEC, sitting as the NBC, promulgated NBC Resolution No. 07-60. NBC Resolution No. 07-60 proclaimed thirteen (13) parties as winners in the party-list elections, namely: Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (BUHAY), Bayan Muna, Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC), Gabriela’s Women Party (Gabriela), Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC), A Teacher, Akbayan! Citizen’s Action Party (AKBAYAN), Alagad, Luzon Farmers Party (BUTIL), Cooperative-Natco Network Party (COOP-NATCCO), Anak Pawis, Alliance of Rural Concerns (ARC), and Abono. We quote NBC Resolution No. 07-60 in its entirety below:
WHEREAS, the Commission on Elections sitting en banc as National Board of Canvassers, thru its Sub-Committee for Party-List, as of 03 July 2007, had officially canvassed, in open and public proceedings, a total of fifteen million two hundred eighty three thousand six hundred fifty-nine (15,283,659) votes under the Party-List System of Representation, in connection with the National and Local Elections conducted last 14 May 2007;
WHEREAS, the study conducted by the Legal and Tabulation Groups of the National Board of Canvassers reveals that the projected/maximum total party-list votes cannot go any higher than sixteen million seven hundred twenty three thousand one hundred twenty-one (16,723,121) votes given the following statistical data:
Projected/Maximum Party-List Votes for May 2007 Elections
|Total party-list votes already canvassed/tabulated||
|Total party-list votes remaining uncanvassed/ untabulated (i.e. canvass deferred)||1,337,032|
|Maximum party-list votes (based on 100% outcome) from areas not yet submitted for canvass (Bogo, Cebu; Bais City; Pantar, Lanao del Norte; and Pagalungan, Maguindanao)||102,430|
|Maximum Total Party-List Votes||16,723,121|
WHEREAS, Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7941 (Party-List System Act) provides in part:
The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one seat each: provided, that those garnering more than two percent (2%) of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes: provided, finally, that each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than three (3) seats.
WHEREAS, for the 2007 Elections, based on the above projected total of party-list votes, the presumptive two percent (2%) threshold can be pegged at three hundred thirty four thousand four hundred sixty-two (334,462) votes;
WHEREAS, the Supreme Court, in Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) versus COMELEC, reiterated its ruling in Veterans Federation Party versus COMELEC adopting a formula for the additional seats of each party, organization or coalition receving more than the required two percent (2%) votes, stating that the same shall be determined only after all party-list ballots have been completely canvassed;
WHEREAS, the parties, organizations, and coalitions that have thus far garnered at least three hundred thirty four thousand four hundred sixty-two (334,462) votes are as follows:
WHEREAS, except for Bagong Alyansang Tagapagtaguyod ng Adhikaing Sambayanan (BATAS), against which an URGENT PETITION FOR CANCELLATION/REMOVAL OF REGISTRATION AND DISQUALIFICATION OF PARTY-LIST NOMINEE (With Prayer for the Issuance of Restraining Order) has been filed before the Commission, docketed as SPC No. 07-250, all the parties, organizations and coalitions included in the aforementioned list are therefore entitled to at least one seat under the party-list system of representation in the meantime.
NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the powers vested in it by the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, Executive Order No. 144, Republic Act Nos. 6646, 7166, 7941, and other election laws, the Commission on Elections, sitting en banc as the National Board of Canvassers, hereby RESOLVES to PARTIALLY PROCLAIM, subject to certain conditions set forth below, the following parties, organizations and coalitions participating under the Party-List System:
|1||Buhay Hayaan Yumabong||BUHAY|
|2||Bayan Muna||BAYAN MUNA|
|3||Citizens Battle Against Corruption||CIBAC|
|4||Gabriela Women’s Party||GABRIELA|
|5||Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives||APEC|
|6||Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment Through Action, Cooperation and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms, Inc.||A TEACHER|
|7||Akbayan! Citizen’s Action Party||AKBAYAN|
|9||Luzon Farmers Party||BUTIL|
|10||Cooperative-Natco Network Party||COOP-NATCCO|
|12||Alliance of Rural Concerns||ARC|
This is without prejudice to the proclamation of other parties, organizations, or coalitions which may later on be established to have obtained at least two percent (2%) of the total actual votes cast under the Party-List System.
The total number of seats of each winning party, organization or coalition shall be determined pursuant to Veterans Federation Party versus COMELEC formula upon completion of the canvass of the party-list results.
The proclamation of Bagong Alyansang Tagapagtaguyod ng Adhikaing Sambayanan (BATAS) is hereby deferred until final resolution of SPC No. 07-250, in order not to render the proceedings therein moot and academic.
Finally, all proclamation of the nominees of concerned parties, organizations and coalitions with pending disputes shall likewise be held in abeyance until final resolution of their respective cases.
Let the Clerk of the Commission implement this Resolution, furnishing a copy thereof to the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.8 (Emphasis in the original)
Pursuant to NBC Resolution No. 07-60, the COMELEC, acting as NBC, promulgated NBC Resolution No. 07-72, which declared the additional seats allocated to the appropriate parties. We quote from the COMELEC’s interpretation of the Veterans formula as found in NBC Resolution No. 07-72:
WHEREAS, on July 9, 2007, the Commission on Elections sitting en banc as the National Board of Canvassers proclaimed thirteen (13) qualified parties, organization[s] and coalitions based on the presumptive two percent (2%) threshold of 334,462 votes from the projected maximum total number of party-list votes of 16,723,121, and were thus given one (1) guaranteed party-list seat each;
WHEREAS, per Report of the Tabulation Group and Supervisory Committee of the National Board of Canvassers, the projected maximum total party-list votes, as of July 11, 2007, based on the votes actually canvassed, votes canvassed but not included in Report No. 29, votes received but uncanvassed, and maximum votes expected for Pantar, Lanao del Norte, is 16,261,369; and that the projected maximum total votes for the thirteen (13) qualified parties, organizations and coalition[s] are as follows:
|Party-List||Projected total number of votes|
WHEREAS, based on the above Report, Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) obtained the highest number of votes among the thirteen (13) qualified parties, organizations and coalitions, making it the “first party” in accordance with Veterans Federation Party versus COMELEC, reiterated in Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) versus COMELEC;
WHEREAS, qualified parties, organizations and coalitions participating under the party-list system of representation that have obtained one guaranteed (1) seat may be entitled to an additional seat or seats based on the formula prescribed by the Supreme Court in Veterans;
WHEREAS, in determining the additional seats for the “first party”, the correct formula as expressed in Veterans, is:
|Number of votes of first party______________________Total votes for party-list system||=||Proportion of votes of first
party relative to total votes for
wherein the proportion of votes received by the first party (without rounding off) shall entitle it to additional seats:
|Proportion of votes received
by the first party
|Equal to or at least 6%||Two (2) additional seats|
|Equal to or greater than 4% but less than 6%||One (1) additional seat|
|Less than 4%||No additional seat|
WHEREAS, applying the above formula, Buhay obtained the following percentage:
|=||0.07248 or 7.2%|
which entitles it to two (2) additional seats.
WHEREAS, in determining the additional seats for the other qualified parties, organizations and coalitions, the correct formula as expressed in Veterans and reiterated in CIBAC is, as follows:
Additional seats for
|=||No. of votes of
concerned party______________No. of votes of
|x||No. of additional
to first party
WHEREAS, applying the above formula, the results are as follows:
|Party List||Percentage||Additional Seat|
NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the powers vested in it by the Constitution, Omnibus Election Code, Executive Order No. 144, Republic Act Nos. 6646, 7166, 7941 and other elections laws, the Commission on Elections en banc sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, hereby RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to proclaim the following parties, organizations or coalitions as entitled to additional seats, to wit:
This is without prejudice to the proclamation of other parties, organizations or coalitions which may later on be established to have obtained at least two per cent (2%) of the total votes cast under the party-list system to entitle them to one (1) guaranteed seat, or to the appropriate percentage of votes to entitle them to one (1) additional seat.
Finally, all proclamation of the nominees of concerned parties, organizations and coalitions with pending disputes shall likewise be held in abeyance until final resolution of their respective cases.
Let the National Board of Canvassers Secretariat implement this Resolution, furnishing a copy hereof to the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines.
Acting on BANAT’s petition, the NBC promulgated NBC Resolution No. 07-88 on 3 August 2007, which reads as follows:
This pertains to the Petition to Proclaim the Full Number of Party-List Representatives Provided by the Constitution filed by the Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT).
Acting on the foregoing Petition of the Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) party-list, Atty. Alioden D. Dalaig, Head, National Board of Canvassers Legal Group submitted his comments/observations and recommendation thereon [NBC 07-041 (PL)], which reads:
COMMENTS / OBSERVATIONS:
Petitioner Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT), in its Petition to Proclaim the Full Number of Party-List Representatives Provided by the Constitution prayed for the following reliefs, to wit:
1. That the full number — twenty percent (20%) — of Party-List representatives as mandated by Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution shall be proclaimed.
2. Paragraph (b), Section 11 of RA 7941 which prescribes the 2% threshold votes, should be harmonized with Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution and with Section 12 of the same RA 7941 in that it should be applicable only to the first party-list representative seats to be allotted on the basis of their initial/first ranking.
3. The 3-seat limit prescribed by RA 7941 shall be applied; and
4. Initially, all party-list groups shall be given the number of seats corresponding to every 2% of the votes they received and the additional seats shall be allocated in accordance with Section 12 of RA 7941, that is, in proportion to the percentage of votes obtained by each party-list group in relation to the total nationwide votes cast in the party-list election, after deducting the corresponding votes of those which were allotted seats under the 2% threshold rule. In fine, the formula/procedure prescribed in the “ALLOCATION OF PARTY-LIST SEATS, ANNEX “A” of COMELEC RESOLUTION 2847 dated 25 June 1996, shall be used for [the] purpose of determining how many seats shall be proclaimed, which party-list groups are entitled to representative seats and how many of their nominees shall seat [sic].
5. In the alternative, to declare as unconstitutional Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7941 and that the procedure in allocating seats for party-list representative prescribed by Section 12 of RA 7941 shall be followed.
R E C O M M E N D A T I O N:
The petition of BANAT is now moot and academic.
The Commission En Banc in NBC Resolution No. 07-60 promulgated July 9, 2007 re “In the Matter of the Canvass of Votes and Partial Proclamation of the Parties, Organizations and Coalitions Participating Under the Party-List System During the May 14, 2007 National and Local Elections” resolved among others that the total number of seats of each winning party, organization or coalition shall be determined pursuant to the Veterans Federation Party versus COMELEC formula upon completion of the canvass of the party-list results.”
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the National Board of Canvassers RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to approve and adopt the recommendation of Atty. Alioden D. Dalaig, Head, NBC Legal Group, to DENY the herein petition of BANAT for being moot and academic.
Let the Supervisory Committee implement this resolution.
BANAT filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus assailing the ruling in NBC Resolution No. 07-88. BANAT did not file a motion for reconsideration of NBC Resolution No. 07-88.
On 9 July 2007, Bayan Muna, Abono, and A Teacher asked the COMELEC, acting as NBC, to reconsider its decision to use the Veterans formula as stated in its NBC Resolution No. 07-60 because the Veterans formula is violative of the Constitution and of Republic Act No. 7941 (R.A. No. 7941). On the same day, the COMELEC denied reconsideration during the proceedings of the NBC.11
Aside from the thirteen party-list organizations proclaimed on 9 July 2007, the COMELEC proclaimed three other party-list organizations as qualified parties entitled to one guaranteed seat under the Party-List System: Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines, Inc. (AGAP),12 Anak Mindanao (AMIN),13 and An Waray.14 Per the certification15 by COMELEC, the following party-list organizations have been proclaimed as of 19 May 2008:
No. of Seat(s)
The proclamation of Bagong Alyansang Tagapagtaguyod ng Adhikaing Sambayanan (BATAS), against which an Urgent Petition for Cancellation/Removal of Registration and Disqualification of Party-list Nominee (with Prayer for the Issuance of Restraining Order) has been filed before the COMELEC, was deferred pending final resolution of SPC No. 07-250.
BANAT brought the following issues before this Court:
1. Is the twenty percent allocation for party-list representatives provided in Section 5(2), Article VI of the Constitution mandatory or is it merely a ceiling?
2. Is the three-seat limit provided in Section 11(b) of RA 7941 constitutional?
3. Is the two percent threshold and “qualifier” votes prescribed by the same Section 11(b) of RA 7941 constitutional?
4. How shall the party-list representatives be allocated?16
Bayan Muna, A Teacher, and Abono, on the other hand, raised the following issues in their petition:
I. Respondent Commission on Elections, acting as National Board of Canvassers, committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it promulgated NBC Resolution No. 07-60 to implement the First-Party Rule in the allocation of seats to qualified party-list organizations as said rule:
A. Violates the constitutional principle of proportional representation.
B. Violates the provisions of RA 7941 particularly:
1. The 2-4-6 Formula used by the First Party Rule in allocating additional seats for the “First Party” violates the principle of proportional representation under RA 7941.
2. The use of two formulas in the allocation of additional seats, one for the “First Party” and another for the qualifying parties, violates Section 11(b) of RA 7941.
3. The proportional relationships under the First Party Rule are different from those required under RA 7941;
C. Violates the “Four Inviolable Parameters” of the Philippine party-list system as provided for under the same case of Veterans Federation Party, et al. v. COMELEC.
II. Presuming that the Commission on Elections did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it implemented the First-Party Rule in the allocation of seats to qualified party-list organizations, the same being merely in consonance with the ruling in Veterans Federations Party, et al. v. COMELEC, the instant Petition is a justiciable case as the issues involved herein are constitutional in nature, involving the correct interpretation and implementation of RA 7941, and are of transcendental importance to our nation.17
Considering the allegations in the petitions and the comments of the parties in these cases, we defined the following issues in our advisory for the oral arguments set on 22 April 2008:
1. Is the twenty percent allocation for party-list representatives in Section 5(2), Article VI of the Constitution mandatory or merely a ceiling?
2. Is the three-seat limit in Section 11(b) of RA 7941 constitutional?
3. Is the two percent threshold prescribed in Section 11(b) of RA 7941 to qualify for one seat constitutional?
4. How shall the party-list representative seats be allocated?
5. Does the Constitution prohibit the major political parties from participating in the party-list elections? If not, can the major political parties be barred from participating in the party-list elections?18
The Ruling of the Court
The petitions have partial merit. We maintain that a Philippine-style party-list election has at least four inviolable parameters as clearly stated in Veterans. For easy reference, these are:
First, the twenty percent allocation — the combined number of all party-list congressmen shall not exceed twenty percent of the total membership of the House of Representatives, including those elected under the party list;
Second, the two percent threshold — only those parties garnering a minimum of two percent of the total valid votes cast for the party-list system are “qualified” to have a seat in the House of Representatives;
Third, the three-seat limit — each qualified party, regardless of the number of votes it actually obtained, is entitled to a maximum of three seats; that is, one “qualifying” and two additional seats;
Fourth, proportional representation— the additional seats which a qualified party is entitled to shall be computed “in proportion to their total number of votes.”19
However, because the formula in Veterans has flaws in its mathematical interpretation of the term “proportional representation,” this Court is compelled to revisit the formula for the allocation of additional seats to party-list organizations.
Number of Party-List Representatives:
The Formula Mandated by the Constitution
Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution provides:
Section 5. (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.
(2) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party-list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.
The first paragraph of Section 11 of R.A. No. 7941 reads:
Section 11. Number of Party-List Representatives. — The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum (20%) of the total number of the members of the House of Representatives including those under the party-list.
x x x
Section 5(1), Article VI of the Constitution states that the “House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law.” The House of Representatives shall be composed of district representatives and party-list representatives. The Constitution allows the legislature to modify the number of the members of the House of Representatives.
Section 5(2), Article VI of the Constitution, on the other hand, states the ratio of party-list representatives to the total number of representatives. We compute the number of seats available to party-list representatives from the number of legislative districts. On this point, we do not deviate from the first formula in Veterans, thus:
|Number of seats
available to legislative districts_________________________.80
|x .20 =||Number of seats available to
This formula allows for the corresponding increase in the number of seats available for party-list representatives whenever a legislative district is created by law. Since the 14th Congress of the Philippines has 220 district representatives, there are 55 seats available to party-list representatives.
|220____.80||x .20 =||55|
After prescribing the ratio of the number of party-list representatives to the total number of representatives, the Constitution left the manner of allocating the seats available to party-list representatives to the wisdom of the legislature.
Allocation of Seats for Party-List Representatives:
The Statutory Limits Presented by the Two Percent Threshold
and the Three-Seat Cap
All parties agree on the formula to determine the maximum number of seats reserved under the Party-List System, as well as on the formula to determine the guaranteed seats to party-list candidates garnering at least two-percent of the total party-list votes. However, there are numerous interpretations of the provisions of R.A. No. 7941 on the allocation of “additional seats” under the Party-List System. Veterans produced the First Party Rule,20 and Justice Vicente V. Mendoza’s dissent in Veterans presented Germany’s Niemeyer formula21 as an alternative.
The Constitution left to Congress the determination of the manner of allocating the seats for party-list representatives. Congress enacted R.A. No. 7941, paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 11 and Section 12 of which provide:
Section 11. Number of Party-List Representatives. — x x x
In determining the allocation of seats for the second vote,22 the following procedure shall be observed:
(a) The parties, organizations, and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections.
(b) The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one seat each: Provided, That those garnering more than two percent (2%) of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes: Provided, finally, That each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than three (3) seats.
Section 12. Procedure in Allocating Seats for Party-List Representatives. — The COMELEC shall tally all the votes for the parties, organizations, or coalitions on a nationwide basis, rank them according to the number of votes received and allocate party-list representatives proportionately according to the percentage of votes obtained by each party, organization, or coalition as against the total nationwide votes cast for the party-list system. (Emphasis supplied)
In G.R. No. 179271, BANAT presents two interpretations through three formulas to allocate party-list representative seats.
The first interpretation allegedly harmonizes the provisions of Section 11(b) on the 2% requirement with Section 12 of R.A. No. 7941. BANAT described this procedure as follows:
(a) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty percent (20%) of the total Members of the House of Representatives including those from the party-list groups as prescribed by Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution, Section 11 (1st par.) of RA 7941 and Comelec Resolution No. 2847 dated 25 June 1996. Since there are 220 District Representatives in the 14th Congress, there shall be 55 Party-List Representatives. All seats shall have to be proclaimed.
(b) All party-list groups shall initially be allotted one (1) seat for every two per centum (2%) of the total party-list votes they obtained; provided, that no party-list groups shall have more than three (3) seats (Section 11, RA 7941).
(c) The remaining seats shall, after deducting the seats obtained by the party-list groups under the immediately preceding paragraph and after deducting from their total the votes corresponding to those seats, the remaining seats shall be allotted proportionately to all the party-list groups which have not secured the maximum three (3) seats under the 2% threshold rule, in accordance with Section 12 of RA 7941.23
Forty-four (44) party-list seats will be awarded under BANAT’s first interpretation.
The second interpretation presented by BANAT assumes that the 2% vote requirement is declared unconstitutional, and apportions the seats for party-list representatives by following Section 12 of R.A. No. 7941. BANAT states that the COMELEC:
(a) shall tally all the votes for the parties, organizations, or coalitions on a nationwide basis;
(b) rank them according to the number of votes received; and,
(c) allocate party-list representatives proportionately according to the percentage of votes obtained by each party, organization or coalition as against the total nationwide votes cast for the party-list system.24
BANAT used two formulas to obtain the same results: one is based on the proportional percentage of the votes received by each party as against the total nationwide party-list votes, and the other is “by making the votes of a party-list with a median percentage of votes as the divisor in computing the allocation of seats.”25 Thirty-four (34) party-list seats will be awarded under BANAT’s second interpretation.
In G.R. No. 179295, Bayan Muna, Abono, and A Teacher criticize both the COMELEC’s original 2-4-6 formula and the Veterans formula for systematically preventing all the party-list seats from being filled up. They claim that both formulas do not factor in the total number of seats alloted for the entire Party-List System. Bayan Muna, Abono, and A Teacher reject the three-seat cap, but accept the 2% threshold. After determining the qualified parties, a second percentage is generated by dividing the votes of a qualified party by the total votes of all qualified parties only. The number of seats allocated to a qualified party is computed by multiplying the total party-list seats available with the second percentage. There will be a first round of seat allocation, limited to using the whole integers as the equivalent of the number of seats allocated to the concerned party-list. After all the qualified parties are given their seats, a second round of seat allocation is conducted. The fractions, or remainders, from the whole integers are ranked from highest to lowest and the remaining seats on the basis of this ranking are allocated until all the seats are filled up.26
We examine what R.A. No. 7941 prescribes to allocate seats for party-list representatives.
Section 11(a) of R.A. No. 7941 prescribes the ranking of the participating parties from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections.
Table 1. Ranking of the participating parties from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes garnered during the elections.27
|Rank||Party||Votes Garnered||Rank||Party||Votes Garnered|
|17||AN WARAY||321,503||64||ASAHAN MO||51,722|
|32||BANTAY||169,801||79||AANGAT KA PILIPINO||29,130|
The first clause of Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 7941 states that “parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one seat each.” This clause guarantees a seat to the two-percenters. In Table 2 below, we use the first 20 party-list candidates for illustration purposes. The percentage of votes garnered by each party is arrived at by dividing the number of votes garnered by each party by 15,950,900, the total number of votes cast for all party-list candidates.
Table 2. The first 20 party-list candidates and their respective percentage of votes garnered over the total votes for the party-list.28
|Rank||Party||Votes Garnered||Votes Garnered over Total Votes for Party-List, in %||Guaranteed Seat|
From Table 2 above, we see that only 17 party-list candidates received at least 2% from the total number of votes cast for party-list candidates. The 17 qualified party-list candidates, or the two-percenters, are the party-list candidates that are “entitled to one seat each,” or the guaranteed seat. In this first round of seat allocation, we distributed 17 guaranteed seats.
The second clause of Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 7941 provides that “those garnering more than two percent (2%) of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes.” This is where petitioners’ and intervenors’ problem with the formula in Veterans lies. Veterans interprets the clause “in proportion to their total number of votes” to be in proportion to the votes of the first party. This interpretation is contrary to the express language of R.A. No. 7941.
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 Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 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 number of available party list seats 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.
To illustrate: There are 55 available party-list seats. Suppose there are 50 million votes cast for the 100 participants in the party list elections. A party that has two percent of the votes cast, or one million votes, gets a guaranteed seat. Let us further assume that the first 50 parties all get one million votes. Only 50 parties get a seat despite the availability of 55 seats. Because of the operation of the two percent threshold, this situation will repeat itself even if we increase the available party-list seats to 60 seats and even if we increase the votes cast to 100 million. Thus, even if the maximum number of parties get two percent of the votes for every party, it is always impossible for the number of occupied party-list seats to exceed 50 seats as long as the two percent threshold is present.
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 Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 7941. The two percent threshold presents an unwarranted obstacle to the full implementation of Section 5(2), Article VI of the Constitution and prevents the attainment of “the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives.”30
In determining the allocation of seats for party-list representatives under Section 11 of R.A. No. 7941, the following procedure shall be observed:
1. The parties, organizations, and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections.
2. The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one guaranteed seat each.
3. Those garnering sufficient number of votes, according to the ranking in paragraph 1, shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes until all the additional seats are allocated.
4. Each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than three (3) seats.
In computing the additional seats, the guaranteed seats shall no longer be included because they have already been allocated, at one seat each, to every two-percenter. Thus, the remaining available seats for allocation as “additional seats” are the maximum seats reserved under the Party List System less the guaranteed seats. Fractional seats are disregarded in the absence of a provision in R.A. No. 7941 allowing for a rounding off of fractional seats.
In declaring the two percent threshold unconstitutional, we do not limit our allocation of additional seats in Table 3 below to the two-percenters. The percentage of votes garnered by each party-list candidate is arrived at by dividing the number of votes garnered by each party by 15,950,900, the total number of votes cast for party-list candidates. There are two steps in the second round of seat allocation. First, the percentage is multiplied by the remaining available seats, 38, which is the difference between the 55 maximum seats reserved under the Party-List System and the 17 guaranteed seats of the two-percenters. The whole integer of the product of the percentage and of the remaining available seats corresponds to a party’s share in the remaining available seats. Second, we assign one party-list seat to each of the parties next in rank until all available seats are completely distributed. We distributed all of the remaining 38 seats in the second round of seat allocation. Finally, we apply the three-seat cap to determine the number of seats each qualified party-list candidate is entitled. Thus:
Table 3. Distribution of Available Party-List Seats
|Rank||Party||Votes Garnered||Votes Garnered over
Total Votes for Party List, in %
|(B) plus (C), in whole integers
|Applying the three seat cap
Applying the procedure of seat allocation as illustrated in Table 3 above, there are 55 party-list representatives from the 36 winning party-list organizations. All 55 available party-list seats are filled. The additional seats allocated to the parties with sufficient number of votes for one whole seat, in no case to exceed a total of three seats for each party, are shown in column (D).
Participation of Major Political Parties in Party-List Elections
The Constitutional Commission adopted a multi-party system that allowed all political parties to participate in the party-list elections. The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission clearly bear this out, thus:
MR. MONSOD. Madam President, I just want to say that we suggested or proposed the party list system because we wanted to open up the political system to a pluralistic society through a multiparty system. x x x We are for opening up the system, and we would like very much for the sectors to be there. That is why one of the ways to do that is to put a ceiling on the number of representatives from any single party that can sit within the 50 allocated under the party list system. x x x.
x x x
MR. MONSOD. Madam President, the candidacy for the 198 seats is not limited to political parties. My question is this: Are we going to classify for example Christian Democrats and Social Democrats as political parties? Can they run under the party list concept or must they be under the district legislation side of it only?
MR. VILLACORTA. In reply to that query, I think these parties that the Commissioner mentioned can field candidates for the Senate as well as for the House of Representatives. Likewise, they can also field sectoral candidates for the 20 percent or 30 percent, whichever is adopted, of the seats that we are allocating under the party list system.
MR. MONSOD. In other words, the Christian Democrats can field district candidates and can also participate in the party list system?
MR. VILLACORTA. Why not? When they come to the party list system, they will be fielding only sectoral candidates.
MR. MONSOD. May I be clarified on that? Can UNIDO participate in the party list system?
MR. VILLACORTA. Yes, why not? For as long as they field candidates who come from the different marginalized sectors that we shall designate in this Constitution.
MR. MONSOD. Suppose Senator Tañada wants to run under BAYAN group and says that he represents the farmers, would he qualify?
MR. VILLACORTA. No, Senator Tañada would not qualify.
MR. MONSOD. But UNIDO can field candidates under the party list system and say Juan dela Cruz is a farmer. Who would pass on whether he is a farmer or not?
MR. TADEO. Kay Commissioner Monsod, gusto ko lamang linawin ito. Political parties, particularly minority political parties, are not prohibited to participate in the party list election if they can prove that they are also organized along sectoral lines.
MR. MONSOD. What the Commissioner is saying is that all political parties can participate because it is precisely the contention of political parties that they represent the broad base of citizens and that all sectors are represented in them. Would the Commissioner agree?
MR. TADEO. Ang punto lamang namin, pag pinayagan mo ang UNIDO na isang political party, it will dominate the party list at mawawalang saysay din yung sector. Lalamunin mismo ng political parties ang party list system. Gusto ko lamang bigyan ng diin ang “reserve.” Hindi ito reserve seat sa marginalized sectors. Kung titingnan natin itong 198 seats, reserved din ito sa political parties.
MR. MONSOD. Hindi po reserved iyon kasi anybody can run there. But my question to Commissioner Villacorta and probably also to Commissioner Tadeo is that under this system, would UNIDO be banned from running under the party list system?
MR. VILLACORTA. No, as I said, UNIDO may field sectoral candidates. On that condition alone, UNIDO may be allowed to register for the party list system.
MR. MONSOD. May I inquire from Commissioner Tadeo if he shares that answer?
MR. TADEO. The same.
MR. VILLACORTA. Puwede po ang UNIDO, pero sa sectoral lines.
x x x x
MR. OPLE. x x x In my opinion, this will also create the stimulus for political parties and mass organizations to seek common ground. For example, we have the PDP-Laban and the UNIDO. I see no reason why they should not be able to make common goals with mass organizations so that the very leadership of these parties can be transformed through the participation of mass organizations. And if this is true of the administration parties, this will be true of others like the Partido ng Bayan which is now being formed. There is no question that they will be attractive to many mass organizations. In the opposition parties to which we belong, there will be a stimulus for us to contact mass organizations so that with their participation, the policies of such parties can be radically transformed because this amendment will create conditions that will challenge both the mass organizations and the political parties to come together. And the party list system is certainly available, although it is open to all the parties. It is understood that the parties will enter in the roll of the COMELEC the names of representatives of mass organizations affiliated with them. So that we may, in time, develop this excellent system that they have in Europe where labor organizations and cooperatives, for example, distribute themselves either in the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Party in Germany, and their very presence there has a transforming effect upon the philosophies and the leadership of those parties.
It is also a fact well known to all that in the United States, the AFL-CIO always vote with the Democratic Party. But the businessmen, most of them, always vote with the Republican Party, meaning that there is no reason at all why political parties and mass organizations should not combine, reenforce, influence and interact with each other so that the very objectives that we set in this Constitution for sectoral representation are achieved in a wider, more lasting, and more institutionalized way. Therefore, I support this [Monsod-Villacorta] amendment. It installs sectoral representation as a constitutional gift, but at the same time, it challenges the sector to rise to the majesty of being elected representatives later on through a party list system; and even beyond that, to become actual political parties capable of contesting political power in the wider constitutional arena for major political parties.
x x x 32 (Emphasis supplied)
R.A. No. 7941 provided the details for the concepts put forward by the Constitutional Commission. Section 3 of R.A. No. 7941 reads:
Definition of Terms. (a) The party-list system is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Component parties or organizations of a coalition may participate independently provided the coalition of which they form part does not participate in the party-list system.
(b) A party means either a political party or a sectoral party or a coalition of parties.
(c) A political party refers to an organized group of citizens advocating an ideology or platform, principles and policies for the general conduct of government and which, as the most immediate means of securing their adoption, regularly nominates and supports certain of its leaders and members as candidates for public office.
It is a national party when its constituency is spread over the geographical territory of at least a majority of the regions. It is a regional party when its constituency is spread over the geographical territory of at least a majority of the cities and provinces comprising the region.
(d) A sectoral party refers to an organized group of citizens belonging to any of the sectors enumerated in Section 5 hereof whose principal advocacy pertains to the special interests and concerns of their sector,
(e) A sectoral organization refers to a group of citizens or a coalition of groups of citizens who share similar physical attributes or characteristics, employment, interests or concerns.
(f) A coalition refers to an aggrupation of duly registered national, regional, sectoral parties or organizations for political and/or election purposes.
Congress, in enacting R.A. No. 7941, put the three-seat cap to prevent any party from dominating the party-list elections.
Neither the Constitution nor R.A. No. 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. In fact, the members of the Constitutional Commission voted down, 19-22, any permanent sectoral seats, and in the alternative the reservation of the party-list system to the sectoral groups.33 In defining a “party” that participates in party-list elections as either “a political party or a sectoral party,” R.A. No. 7941 also clearly intended that major political parties will participate in the party-list elections. Excluding the major political parties in party-list elections is manifestly against the Constitution, the intent of the Constitutional Commission, and R.A. No. 7941. This Court cannot engage in socio-political engineering and judicially legislate the exclusion of major political parties from the party-list elections in patent violation of the Constitution and the law.
Read together, R.A. No. 7941 and the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission state that major political parties are allowed to establish, or form coalitions with, sectoral organizations for electoral or political purposes. There should not be a problem if, for example, the Liberal Party participates in the party-list election through the Kabataang Liberal ng Pilipinas (KALIPI), its sectoral youth wing. The other major political parties can thus organize, or affiliate with, their chosen sector or sectors. To further illustrate, the Nacionalista Party can establish a fisherfolk wing to participate in the party-list election, and this fisherfolk wing can field its fisherfolk nominees. Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI) can do the same for the urban poor.
The qualifications of party-list nominees are prescribed in Section 9 of R.A. No. 7941:
Qualifications of Party-List Nominees. — No person shall be nominated as party-list representative unless he is a natural born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, a resident of the Philippines for a period of not less than one (1) year immediately preceding the day of the elections, able to read and write, bona fide member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least ninety (90) days preceding the day of the election, and is at least twenty-five (25) years of age on the day of the election.
In case of a nominee of the youth sector, he must at least be twenty-five (25) but not more than thirty (30) years of age on the day of the election. Any youth sectoral representative who attains the age of thirty (30) during his term shall be allowed to continue until the expiration of his term.
Under Section 9 of R.A. No. 7941, it is not necessary that the party-list organization’s nominee “wallow in poverty, destitution and infirmity”34 as there is no financial status required in the law. It is enough that the nominee of the sectoral party/organization/coalition belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors,35 that is, if the nominee represents the fisherfolk, he or she must be a fisherfolk, or if the nominee represents the senior citizens, he or she must be a senior citizen.
Neither the Constitution nor R.A. No. 7941 mandates the filling-up of the entire 20% allocation of party-list representatives found in the Constitution. The Constitution, in paragraph 1, Section 5 of Article VI, left the determination of the number of the members of the House of Representatives to Congress: “The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, x x x.” The 20% allocation of party-list representatives is merely a ceiling; party-list representatives cannot be more than 20% of the members of the House of Representatives. However, we cannot allow the continued existence of a provision in the law which will systematically prevent the constitutionally allocated 20% party-list representatives from being filled. The three-seat cap, as a limitation to the number of seats that a qualified party-list organization may occupy, remains a valid statutory device that prevents any party from dominating the party-list elections. Seats for party-list representatives shall thus be allocated in accordance with the procedure used in Table 3 above.
However, by a 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. Those who voted to continue disallowing major political parties from the party-list elections joined Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno in his separate opinion. On the formula to allocate party-list seats, the Court is unanimous in concurring with this ponencia.
WHEREFORE, we PARTIALLY GRANT the petition. We SET ASIDE the Resolution of the COMELEC dated 3 August 2007 in NBC No. 07-041 (PL) as well as the Resolution dated 9 July 2007 in NBC No. 07-60. We declare unconstitutional the two percent threshold in the distribution of additional party-list seats. The allocation of additional seats under the Party-List System shall be in accordance with the procedure used in Table 3 of this Decision. Major political parties are disallowed from participating in party-list elections. This Decision is immediately executory. No pronouncement as to costs.
Puno, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Austira-Martinez, Corona, Carpio Morales, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Brion, Leonardo-De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, JJ., concur.
1 Under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
2 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), pp. 86-87. Signed by Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos, Sr., Commissioners Resurreccion Z. Borra, Florentino A. Tuason, Jr., Romeo A. Brawner, Rene V. Sarmiento, and Nicodemo T. Ferrer.
3 Under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
4 Rollo (G.R. No. 179295), pp. 103-108. Signed by Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos, Sr., Commissioners Resurreccion Z. Borra, Florentino A. Tuason, Jr., Romeo A. Brawner, Rene V. Sarmiento, and Nicodemo T. Ferrer.
5 396 Phil. 419 (2000).
6 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), pp. 969-986; rollo (G.R. No. 179295), pp. 798-815. Party-List Canvass Report No. 32, as of 31 August 2007, 6:00 p.m.
7 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), p. 70.
8 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), pp. 88-92.
9 Id. at 150-153.
10 Id. at 86-87.
11 Rollo (G.R. No. 179295), p. 112.
12 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), pp. 158-159. NBC Resolution No. 07-74, 24 July 2007.
13 Id. at 160-161. NBC Resolution No. 07-87, 3 August 2007.
14 NBC Resolution No. 07-97, 4 September 2007.
15 Rollo (G.R. No. 179295), pp. 816-817. This COMELEC certification should have included An Waray, which was proclaimed on 4 September 2007 under NBC Resolution No. 07-97.
16 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), p. 14.
17 Rollo (G.R. No. 179295), pp. 21-22.
18 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), p. 553; rollo (G. R. No. 179295), p. 341.
19 Supra note 5 at 424.
20 Id. at 446-451. We quote below the discussion in Veterans explaining the First Party Rule:
Formula for Determining
Additional Seats for the First Party
Now, how do we determine the number of seats the first party is entitled to? The only basis given by the law is that a party receiving at least two percent of the total votes shall be entitled to one seat. Proportionally, if the first party were to receive twice the number of votes of the second party, it should be entitled to twice the latter’s number of seats and so on. The formula, therefore, for computing the number of seats to which the first party is entitled is as follows:
|Number of votes
of first party______________Total votes for
Proportion of votes of first party relative to
If the proportion of votes received by the first party without rounding it off is equal to at least six percent of the total valid votes cast for all the party list groups, then the first party shall be entitled to two additional seats or a total of three seats overall. If the proportion of votes without a rounding off is equal to or greater than four percent, but less than six percent, then the first party shall have one additional or a total of two seats. And if the proportion is less than four percent, then the first party shall not be entitled to any additional seat.
We adopted this six percent bench mark, because the first party is not always entitled to the maximum number of additional seats. Likewise, it would prevent the allotment of more than the total number of available seats, such as in an extreme case wherein 18 or more parties tie for the highest rank and are thus entitled to three seats each. In such scenario, the number of seats to which all the parties are entitled may exceed the maximum number of party-list seats reserved in the House of Representatives.
x x x
Note that the above formula will be applicable only in determining the number of additional seats the first party is entitled to. It cannot be used to determine the number of additional seats of the other qualified parties. As explained earlier, the use of the same formula for all would contravene the proportional representation parameter. For example, a second party obtains six percent of the total number of votes cast. According to the above formula, the said party would be entitled to two additional seats or a total of three seats overall. However, if the first party received a significantly higher amount of votes — say, twenty percent — to grant it the same number of seats as the second party would violate the statutory mandate of proportional representation, since a party getting only six percent of the votes will have an equal number of representatives as the one obtaining twenty percent. The proper solution, therefore, is to grant the first party a total of three seats; and the party receiving six percent, additional seats in proportion to those of the first party.
Formula for Additional
Seats of Other Qualified Parties
Step Three The next step is to solve for the number of additional seats that the other qualified parties are entitled to, based on proportional representation. The formula is encompassed by the following complex fraction:
for concerned party
|No. of votes of
concerned party_______________Total No. of votes
of party-list system_________________No. of votes
of first party
Total No. of votes
|x||No. of additional
to the first party
In simplified form, it is written as follows:
for concerned party
|=||No. of votes of
concerned party_____________No. of votes
of first party
|x||No. of additional
seats allocated to
the first party
x x x
Incidentally, if the first party is not entitled to any additional seat, then the ratio of the number of votes for the other party to that for the first one is multiplied by zero. The end result would be zero additional seat for each of the other qualified parties as well.
The above formula does not give an exact mathematical representation of the number of additional seats to be awarded since, in order to be entitled to one additional seat, an exact whole number is necessary. In fact, most of the actual mathematical proportions are not whole numbers and are not rounded off for the reasons explained earlier. To repeat, rounding off may result in the awarding of a number of seats in excess of that provided by the law. Furthermore, obtaining absolute proportional representation is restricted by the three-seat-per-party limit to a maximum of two additional slots. An increase in the maximum number of additional representatives a party may be entitled to would result in a more accurate proportional representation. But the law itself has set the limit: only two additional seats. Hence, we need to work within such extant parameter.
21 Id. at 475-481.
22 The second vote cast by a registered voter is for the party-list candidates as provided in Section 10 of R.A. No. 7941.
23 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), p. 47.
24 Id. at 48.
25 Id. at 1076.
26 Rollo (G.R. No. 179295), pp. 66-81.
27 Rollo (G.R. No. 179271), pp. 969-974; rollo (G.R. No. 179295), pp. 798-803. Party-List Canvass Report No. 32, as of 31 August 2007, 6:00 p.m.
29 Proclamation deferred by COMELEC.
30 Section 2, R.A. No. 7941.
31 The product of the percentage and the remaining available seats of all parties ranked nine and below is less than one.
32 II Record, Constitutional Commission 256-257 (25 July 1986), 568 (1 August 1986).
33 Id. at 584 (1 August 1986). Dissenting opinion of Justice Jose C. Vitug in Ang Bagong Bayani- OFW Labor Party v. COMELEC, 412 Phil. 308, 350 (2001).
34 Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. COMELEC, 412 Phil. 308, 336 (2001).
35 Section 2, R.A. No. 7941.
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