RA 7941 the Party list Act (1995) BANAT V. COMELEC, G.R. No.

179271, April 21, 2009 Facts:  Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) filed before the National Board of Canvassers(NBC) a petition to proclaim the full number of party list representatives provided by the Constitution. However, the recommendation of the head of the legal group of COMELEC’s national board of canvassers to declare the petition moot and academic was approved by the COMELEC en banc.  BANAT filed for petition for certiorari and mandamus assailing the resolution of COMELEC to their petition to proclaim the full number of party list representatives provided by the Constitution. The COMELEC, sitting as the NBC, promulgated a resolution proclaiming thirteen (13) parties as winners in the party-list elections in May 2007. The COMELEC announced that, upon completion of the canvass of the party-list results, it would determine the total number of seats of each winning party, organization, or coalition in accordance with Veterans Federation Party v. COMELEC formula. Bayan Muna, Abono, and Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment Through Action, Cooperation and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms (A Teacher) asked the COMELEC, acting as NBC, to reconsider its decision to use the Veterans formula. COMELEC denied the consideration. Bayan Muna, Abono, and A Teacher filed for certiorari with mandamus and prohibition assailing the resolution of the COMELEC in its decision to use the Veterans formula.

ISSUES:  Whether or not the twenty percent allocation for party-list representatives in Section 5(2), Article VI of the Constitution mandatory or merely a ceiling  Whether or not the three-seat limit in Section 11(b) of RA 7941 is constitutional  Whether or not the two percent threshold prescribed in Section 11(b) of RA 7941 to qualify for one seat is constitutional  How shall the party-list representatives be allocated?  Does the Constitution prohibit the major political parties from participating in the party-list elections? If not, can the major political parties be barred from participating in the party-list elections? RULING:  The 20% allocation of party-list representatives is merely a ceiling; party-list representatives cannot be more than 20% of the members of the House of Representatives.

 Yes, it is constitutional. The three-seat cap, as a limitation to the number of seats that a qualified party-list organization may occupy, remains a valid statutory device that prevents any party from dominating the party-list elections.  The second clause of Section 11(b) of R. A. 7941 “those garnering more than two percent (2%) of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes” is unconstitutional. The two percent threshold only in relation to the distribution of the additional seats presents an unwarranted obstacle to the full implementation of Section 5(2), Article VI of the Constitution and prevents the attainment of "the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives."  In determining the allocation of seats for party-list representatives under Section 11 of R.A. No. 7941, the following procedure shall be observed: 1. The parties, organizations, and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections. 2. The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one guaranteed seat each. 3. Those garnering sufficient number of votes, according to the ranking in paragraph 1, shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes until all the additional seats are allocated. 4. Each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than three (3) seats.  Neither the Constitution nor R.A. No. 7941 prohibits major political parties from participating in the party-list system. On the contrary, the framers of the Constitution clearly intended the major political parties to participate in party-list elections through their sectoral wings. Also, in defining a "party" that participates in party-list elections as either "a political party or a sectoral party," R.A. No. 7941 also clearly intended that major political parties will participate in the party-list elections. Excluding the major political parties in party-list elections is manifestly against the Constitution, the intent of the Constitutional Commission, and R.A. No. 7941. However, by the vote of 8-7, the Court decided to continue the ruling in Veterans disallowing major political parties from participating in the party-list elections, directly or indirectly.

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