SC Issues Landmark Rule on Party List Groups

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Kakampi Mo Ang Batas
PARTY LIST GROUPS THAT DID NOT OBTAIN TWO PERCENT OF THE VOTES MAY STILL GET REPRESENTATION: Even party list groups that did not obtain at least two percent of the votes cast for party lists in any election may now be given a chance to install at least one congressman (or even more, in fact) in the House of Representatives.

The Supreme Court, in a July 8, 2009 Resolution penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio which disposed of pending motions in the April 21, 2009 landmark case of "BANAT vs. Commission on Elections," said this is made possible by the mathematical computation arrived at by the tribunal to ensure that the 20 percent allocation for party list groups in the House is completely filled up.


SUPREME COURT CLARIFIES FORMULA IN AWARDING PARTY LIST SEATS: This is how the Supreme Court's reasoning---and formula---on the matter goes: pursuant to Republic Act 7941 (the existing party list law), each party list organization that got two percent of all the votes cast for party lists in any election is automatically guaranteed at least one seat.

If after all the two percenters shall have already been given one seat each and there would still remain unfilled party list seats (meaning, the difference between the 20 percent allotted for party lists under the 1987 Constitution minus the seats already distributed to the two percenters), these remaining seats would then be subjected to a "second round of distribution."


NO MINIMUM VOTE REQUIRED IN ALLOCATING ADDITIONAL PARTY LIST SEATS: How will this "second round of distribution" be carried out? Let us hear it from the Supreme Court itself, thus:

"In the second round allocation of additional seats, there is no minimum vote requirement to obtain a party-list seat because the Court has struck down the application of the 2% threshold in the allocation of additional seats.

"Specifically, the provision in Section 11(b) of the Party-List Act stating that 'those garnering more than two percent (2%) of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in the proportion to their total number of votes' can no longer be given any effect.


RA 7941 FORMULA FOR FILLING ADDITIONAL PARTY LIST SEATS DECLARED INOPERATIVE: "Otherwise, the 20 percent party-list seats in the total membership of the House of Representatives as provided in the 1987 Constitution will mathematically be impossible to fill up.

"However, a party-list organization has to obtain a sufficient number of votes to gain a seat in the second round of seat allocation.


"SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF VOTES", CLARIFIED: "What is deemed a sufficient number of votes is dependent upon the circumstances of each election, such as the number of participating parties, the number of available party-list seats, and the number of parties with guaranteed seats received in the first round of seat allocation.

"To continue the example above, if only ten parties participated in the 2007 party-list election and each party received only one thousand votes, then each of the ten parties would receive 10% of the votes cast.

"All are guaranteed one seat, and are further entitled to receive two more seats in the second round of seat allocation...."


FOUR PARAMETERS OF PHILIPPINE-STYLE PARTY LIST ELECTION: The Supreme Court then proceeded to lay down what it called as the "four parameters for a Philippine-style party list election." These are:

"1. Twenty percent of the total number of the membership of the House of Representatives is the maximum number of seats available to party-list organizations, such that there is automatically one party-list seat for every four existing legislative districts.

"2. Garnering two percent of the total votes cast in the party-list elections guarantees a party-list organization one seat.  The guaranteed seats shall be distributed in a first round of seat allocation to parties receiving at least two percent of the total party-list votes.

"3. The additional seats, that is, the remaining seats after allocation of the guaranteed seats, shall be distributed to the party-list organizations including those that received less than two percent of the total votes.

"The continued operation of the two percent threshold as it applies to the allocation of the additional seats is now unconstitutional because this threshold mathematically and physically prevents the filling up of the available party-list seats.

"The additional seats shall be distributed to the parties in a second round of seat allocation according to the two-step procedure laid down in the Decision of 21 April 2009 as clarified in this Resolution.

"4.The three-seat cap is constitutional. The three-seat cap is intended by the Legislature to prevent any party from dominating the party-list system.

"There is no violation of the Constitution because the 1987 Constitution does not require absolute proportionality for the party-list system.

"The well-settled rule is that courts will not question the wisdom of the Legislature as long as it is not violative of the Constitution..."


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