This article talks about the Philippine party-list system, its composition, parameters and the method of computing the allocated number of seats.
The Party-List System
Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, defines the party-list system as a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (“COMELEC”). Thus, there are two (2) kinds of representatives which a person may vote for namely: a district representative (for his legislative district) and a party-list group (which has no geographical limitation).
Any organized group of persons may register as a party, organization or coalition for purposes of the party-list system by filing with the COMELEC not later than ninety (90) days before the election a petition verified by its president or secretary stating its desire to participate in the party-list system as a national, regional or sectoral party or organization or a coalition of such parties or organizations, attaching thereto its constitution, by-laws, platform or program of government, list of officers, coalition agreement and other relevant information as the COMELEC may require (RA 7941, Sec. 5).
Parameters of The Party-List System
In the case of Atong Paglaum, Inc. vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 203766, 02 April 2013), the Supreme Court laid down the following parameters:
1. Three different groups may participate in the party-list system: (1) national parties or organizations, (2) regional parties or organizations, and (3) sectoral parties or organizations.
2. National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent any “marginalized and underrepresented” sector.
3. Political parties can participate in party-list elections provided they register under the party-list system and do not field candidates in legislative district elections. A political party, whether major or not, that fields candidates in legislative district elections can participate in party-list elections only through its sectoral wing that can separately register under the party-list system. The sectoral wing is by itself an independent sectoral party, and is linked to a political party through a coalition.
4. Sectoral parties or organizations may either be “marginalized and underrepresented” or lacking in “well-defined political constituencies.” It is enough that their principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concerns of their sector. The sectors that are “marginalized and underrepresented” include labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, handicapped, veterans, and overseas workers. The sectors that lack “well-defined political constituencies” include professionals, the elderly, women, and the youth.
5. A majority of the members of sectoral parties or organizations that represent the “marginalized and underrepresented” must belong to the “marginalized and underrepresented” sector they represent. Similarly, a majority of the members of sectoral parties or organizations that lack “well-defined political constituencies” must belong to the sector they represent. The nominees of sectoral parties or organizations that represent the “marginalized and underrepresented,” or that represent those who lack “well-defined political constituencies,” either must belong to their respective sectors, or must have a track record of advocacy for their respective sectors. The nominees of national and regional parties or organizations must be bona-fide members of such parties or organizations.
6. National, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations shall not be disqualified if some of their nominees are disqualified, provided that they have at least one nominee who remains qualified.
Computation of the Number of Seats of the Party-List
The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party list (1987 Constitution, Art. VI Sec. 5(2). The party-list garnering at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one (1) seat each. Anent the second round of seat allocation, two steps will be observed. As held in BANAT vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 179271, 21 April 2009), first, the percentage is multiplied by the remaining available seats (difference between the maximum reserved seats under the party-list system and the guaranteed seats to the two-percenters). The whole integer of the product of the percentage and of the remaining available seats corresponds to a party’s share in the remaining available seats. Second, one seat to each of the parties next in rank shall be assigned until all available seats are completely distributed. Finally, a three-seat cap is imposed such that a party-list cannot hold more than three (3) seats.
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