Raffle of party-list slots moved to January 2013

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is planning to move the scheduled date for the raffle of party-list slots on the ballot to January 2013. Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, chairman of the raffle committee, told GMA News Online that the poll body will have to finish cleansing the party-list system first before doing the raffle. The Comelec, through Resolution No. 9572, has initially scheduled the raffle on December 17, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. “Tinitingnan namin, may kaunting pending pa. Baka mga early January na lang para malinis ‘yung listahan ng party-list. Baka may ipa-raffle kami, may ma-miss, at may masama pang dapat wala naman pala,” Sarmiento said. The raffle would be done using a raffle drum and numbered ping pong balls. A Comelec official or a representative from the party-list group, if present, will pick the ball corresponding to the number. This will be the first time the Comelec will raffle out the slots on the ballot. In the 2010 elections, the groups were listed alphabetically. Before that, since the first party-list election in 1998, the ballot only provided a blank for the voter to write the name of the group they were voting for. Sarmiento, the longest serving commissioner in the Comelec, said the raffle would prevent the “ridiculous” sequencing of party-list groups in the ballot. “[The raffle aims] to avoid ‘yung mga favoritism and to avoid this unahan for the sequence because they are number one or because they are letter “A.” Also to level the playing field, to be fair especially in the sequencing of these party-list organizations in the paper ballot,” he said. Reached for a clarification, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. told GMA News Online that the en banc would follow Sarmiento's decision. “Susundin namin dahil siya ang chairman d’yan,” he said, referring to the Raffle Committee. Of the 187 party-list groups allowed to run in 2010, 103 have names starting with “A” while 12 groups start with the number “1.” Meanwhile, of the 84 groups accredited by Comelec for the 2013 elections, 49 party-lists have names starting with “A” while nine start with “1.” Sarmiento said they are still discussing the fate of about five party-list groups. Comelec has so far approved 84 groups to run next year, while it disqualified eight incumbent and 147 new and existing ones. The Supreme Court has also given reprieve to 17 disqualified groups, meaning they could be included in the ballot unless the high court ruled against them according to the merits. — KBK, GMA News