BAGUIO CITY – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc nullified earlier rulings of the Commission on Election (Comelec) to exclude the IPEACE Epanaw from the list of party-list organizations allowed to run for the available seats in the House of Representatives in the coming May 9, 2022 synchronized national and local elections.
In a resolution promulgated by the SC en banc on February 15, 2022, the High Court granted the petition of the IPEACE Epanaw and made the earlier temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued permanent thereby restraining the poll body from excluding the IPEACE Epanaw from the list of party-list organizations that had been allowed to run for the upcoming polls.
The SC added that the IPEACE Epanaw has substantially complied with the mandatory requirements of the pertinent provisions of Comelec Resolution No. 9366.
As provided in Republic Act (RA) 7941 or the Party-list system Act, the State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereafter, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and under-represented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislations that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House.
The high tribunal pointed out that it is the objectives of the party-list system is to open the party system to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House and that the fundamental tenet of representative democracy is that the people should be allowed to choose whom they place to govern them.
Further, it is also part of the right of suffrage, and the laws intention to ensure a more representative Congress should be given priority.
According to the resolution, the provisions of RA 7941 should be liberally construed in order that the well of the people in the choice of public officers may not be defeated by mere technical objections and violations, thus, in the exercise of its powers and jurisdiction, as defined by its mandate to protect the integrity of the elections, the Comelec as a constitutional body, must not be straight-jacketed in its interpretation of the election laws, especially in the exercise of the Comelec’s administrative power, particularly its power to enforce and administer all laws related to election.
The SC pointed out that the denial of the IPEACE Epanaw petition for registration despite its actual compliance with the mandatory requirements of existing laws, rules and regulations is therefore tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction.
Contrary to the assailed dispositions of the Comelec, the High Court stipulated that the petition of the party-list group in fact bore the required documents pertaining to its desired participation in the upcoming May 2022 polls in compliance with existing regulations.
The SC asserted that it is beyond cavil that the IPEACE Epanaw did comply with the requirements implied in Comelec Resolution No. 9366 and that its petition bore the manifestation of its intent to participate in the next immediately succeeding national and local elections.