Party-list groups don't have to be marginalized, Supreme Court says

Kim Arveen Patria
Kim Arveen Patria
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Party-list organizations need not represent marginalized sectors, Supreme Court said in a decision released Friday.

The ruling might allow previously barred groups to run in the May elections, a move Comelec objects to.

Of the 54 party-list groups disqualified by the Commission on Elections, 41 may be "immediately allowed" to run, reports quoted poll chief Sixto Brillantes, Jr. as saying.

The remaining 13 will not be allowed to run since they have not been included in the printed ballots, but the Supreme Court also ordered Comelec to "determine their qualifications."

Related story: Judging a genuine party-list group

Brillantes said via Twitter late Friday that the Supreme Court decision "effectively deprives the poor and marginalized of opportunity to have representation in Congress."

"Under the new parameters, small and marginalized groups will now have to compete with moneyed and well-connected pol parties and groups," he added.

The poll chief noted, however, that Comelec will nonetheless "comply with the decision and conduct the evidentiary hearing as soon as possible to determine compliance with the new guidelines."

He meanwhile urged Congress to re-examine the party-list law "to make it more responsive to the needs of d marginalized, not of politicians."

"Despite my personal reservations, this is a good opportunity to re-open the discussion regarding the direction of our party-list system," Brillantes further tweeted.

Also read: Clean, honest polls also voters' responsibility, Comelec says

The Supreme Court decision outlines a six-point parameter on assessing the qualifications of party-list organizations, including one that says organizations "do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent 'any marginalized and underrepresented' sector."

Comelec had previously disqualified party-list groups from the polls based on earlier Supreme Court rulings limiting party-list participation to marginalized sectors.

"We hold that the Comelec did not commit grave abuse of discretion in following prevailing decisions of this court in disqualifying petitioners from participating in the coming 13 May 2013 party-list elections," the Supreme Court decision said.

The high court however sent back to the poll body petitions for the Comelec to "determine who are qualified to register under the partylist system..."