Comelec receives several petitions to 'abandon', revise formula to determine number of house seats

Published May 18, 2022, 6:09 PM

by Dhel Nazario

Proclamation of party-list groups has been postponed as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will wait for the Lanao Del Sur polls and yet they face another dilemma in the form of several petitions questioning their computation on the number of house seats.

Comelec/MB

In a television interview on CNN Philippines on Wednesday, May 18, Commissioner George Erwin Garcia said that the poll body has been told to abandon the computation that they have been doing and change it through petitions filed before then,

According to Section 11 of Republic Act 7941, or the Party-list System Act, the party-list representatives shall constitute 20 percent of the total number of the members of the House of Representatives including those under the party-list. A total of 63 seats are set to be filled up for the upcoming 19th Congress.

The same law states that parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least 2 percent of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one seat each: provided, that those garnering more than 2 percent 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 seats.

According to Garcia, the petitioners’ argument stemmed from a so-called loophole or grey area in the current formula stated by the Supreme Court since it did not actually mention whether those who got more than 2 percent will be able to get at least one more seat with their remaining percentage of votes.

This remaining percentage, he said, is where the Comelec’s discretion comes in as it is being questioned if it will be placed at a higher or lower rank than those that are almost within the threshold of 2 percent.

“If for example your party-list is able to get 3.75 percent of the total votes cast for the party-list, automatically, you have one seat already,” Garcia explained.

Now, the question is if that particular party is still entitled to an additional seat? “If you are already given one seat because of your 2% of the 3.75%, then you still have 1.75% left. Eh what if there are other party-lists naman below the 2% threshold, na ang percentage halimbawa 1.98%, 1.99% wala lang 2 percent? Iyon bang 1.75% mo na natitira, should now that be ranked below the 1.99% or 1.98% or it should be ranked higher than the 1.99% or 1.98%?” he said.

Despite the petitions, Garcia said that the Comelec would still stick with the formula provided by the SC unless the high court itself reverses this decision. He added that it’s high time to amend the party-list law and include how the number of seats should be computed.

 
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