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SEPARATE OPINION

MENDOZA, J., dissenting:

I vote to dismiss the petitions in these cases. I will presently explain my vote, but before I do so it seems to me necessary to state briefly the facts and the issues.

THE FACTS

Petitioner Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party (OFW for short) is the political agency of the Overseas Filipino Workers Movement, a non-stock and non-profit organization. On the other hand, petitioner Bayan Muna is a political party representing peasants, workers, women, the youth, and other marginalized sectors. Both were accredited by the Commission on Elections in connection with the election for party-list representatives on May 14, 2001.

Petitioners brought these suits in G.R. No. 147589, for certiorari and, in G.R. No. 147613, for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus for the purpose of seeking the annulment of the registration of the following parties classified as political parties and organizations/coalitions by the Commission on Elections:

Political Parties:

Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP),

Lakas NUCD-UMDP (LAKAS NUCD-UMDP),

Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC),

Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP),

Aksyon Demokratiko (AKSYON),

Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN),

Liberal Party (LP),

Nacionalista Party (NP),

Ang Buhay Hayaang Yumabong

Organizations/Coalitions:

Citizens Drug Watch Foundation, Inc. (DRUG WATCH),

Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MAD),

Go! Go! Philippines Movement (GO, GO PHILIPPINES),

The True Marcos Loyalist (MARCOS LOYALIST),

Philippine Local Autonomy Movement, Inc. (PLAM),

Citizens Movement for Justice, Economy Environment and Peace (JEEP),

Chamber of Real Estate Builders Association (CREBA),

Sports and Health Advancement Foundation, Inc. (SHAF),

Ang Lakas ng Overseas Contract Workers (OCW),

Bagong Bayani Organization (BAGONG BAYANI),

National Federation of Sugar Planters (NFSP)

R.A. No. 7941, 5 provides that any party, organization, or coalition desiring to participate in the party-list system must apply to the COMELEC for registration not later than 90 days before the election. On the other hand, 4 of the same law requires that any party, organization, or coalition which is already registered with the COMELEC should declare its intention to participate in the party-list system 90 days before the election.

In its Resolution No. 3785, dated March 26, 2001, the COMELEC passed upon the applications for registration or manifestations of intention of several parties, organizations, and coalitions. On March 28, 2001, it issued a certified list of parties, organizations, or coalitions entitled to participate in the May 14, 2001 elections. All in all, 148 parties, organizations, and coalitions were accredited, including private respondents herein.

Petitioners OFW and Bayan Muna contend that the party-list system is exclusively for the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of the Philippine society and that there is no way by which other sectors not so identified, much less the major political parties, can participate in the party-list elections. Petitioner Bayan Muna in particular calls attention to the fact that seven of the respondent political parties (PMP, Lakas NUCD-UMDP, NPC, LDP, AKSYON, PDP-LABAN, and LP) are actually the major political parties in the country today as determined by the COMELEC in its Resolution No. 4073, dated May 3, 2001, and charges that the rest of private respondents are pseudo party-list organizations which are actually satellites of the major political parties and of big businesses.

Bayan Muna argues that the party-list system is intended to address the problem of ineffective representation of underprivileged sectors of society and enhance direct peoples action and participation in the decision-making process to counter-balance the territorial representation of 80% of the House of Representatives, and that to allow participation in the party-list system of respondent political parties and parties/coalitions would be to defeat this purpose because these parties do not represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors. 1 For this reason, Bayan Muna prays that R.A. No. 7941, 11, par. 2 be declared unconstitutional on the ground that, by banning the five major political parties from participating in the party-list system only in the May 1998 elections, it leaves them free to participate in subsequent elections.

On the other hand, the COMELEC argues:

[B]oth the Constitution and the Party-List System Act clearly allow, and they do not prohibit, the participation of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations to participate in the party-list system, whether or not said parties or organizations represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of society.2cräläwvirtualibräry

It cites the proviso of Art. VI, 5(2) of the Constitution that

For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector,

as proof that marginalized sectors are not entitled to permanent seats in the House of Representatives. In any event, it is contended that petitioners recourse is not to this Court but to the COMELEC because whether a party, organization, or coalition represents marginalized and underrepresented sectors is a question of fact, and this Court is not a trier of facts. The COMELEC states that, as a matter of fact, petitioner Bayan Muna has pending petitions to disqualify, based on this ground, respondents NPC, LDP, PMP, LAKAS NUCD-UMDP, LP, MAD, CREBA, NFSP, JEEP, and BAGONG BAYANI.

THE ISSUES

The issues in these cases actually come down to the following:

(1) Whether the petitions filed in these cases should be dismissed for failure of petitioners to exhaust administrative remedies in the COMELEC; and

(2) Whether the party-list system is exclusively for marginalized and underrepresented sectors of society.

We shall deal with these issues in the order they are stated.

DISCUSSION

I.

While it is true that petitioner Bayan Muna has filed petitions for the disqualification of respondents, the fact is that when the petitions in these cases were filed on April 16 and 17, 2001, the elections were just a month away, and there was doubt whether a resolution of the petitions for disqualifications was forthcoming. In fact, up to the time of the elections on May 14, 2001, the cases were still unresolved. Petitioners, therefore, had no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law within the meaning of Rule 65, 1-2 of the Code of Civil Procedure and were justified in resorting to the extraordinary remedies of certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus.

From another point of view, there is no need for petitioners to await formal resolution of their petitions as the COMELEC had already indicated in press statements its stand that parties, organizations, or coalitions, whether or not representing marginalized and underrepresented sectors, could participate in the election for the party-list system a fact confirmed by it in its comment and memorandum in these cases. There is thus no basis for insisting that petitioners should have exhausted administrative remedies before coming to this Court.

Nor are the issues raised in these cases factual as the statement of the second issue above plainly shows. It is only if the question whether the party-list system is limited to marginalized and underrepresented sectors is answered in the affirmative will it be necessary to determine the status of Respondents.

II.

At the core of the controversy in these cases is the following provision of the Constitution:

Art. VI, 5(1). The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.

(2) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law except the religious sector.

To carry out this provision of the Constitution, Congress enacted the Party-List System Act (R.A. No. 7941), the pertinent provisions of which read:

SEC. 2. Declaration of Party. 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 thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.

SEC. 11. Number of Party-List Representatives.The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum (20%) of the total number of the members of the House of Representatives including those under the party-list.

For purposes of the May 1998 elections, the first five (5) major political parties on the basis of party representation in the House of Representatives at the start of the Tenth Congress of the Philippines shall not be entitled to participate in the party-list system.

In determining the allocation of seats for the second vote, the following procedure shall be observed:

(a) 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.

(b) 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 seat each; Provided, That those garnering more than two percent (2%) 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 (3) seats.

The most important single factor in determining the intention of the people from whom the Constitution emanated is the language in which it is expressed. 3 The text of Art. VI, 5(1)(2) is quite clear. It provides for a party-list system of registered, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations, not for sectoral representation. Only for three consecutive terms following the ratification of the Constitution and only with respect to one-half of the seats allotted to party-list representatives does it allow sectoral representation. Textually, Art. VI, 5(1)(2) provides no basis for petitioners contention that whether it is sectoral representation or party-list system the purpose is to provide exclusive representation for marginalized sectors, by which term petitioners mean the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, and youth sectors.

Indeed, the two systems of representation are not identical. Party-list representation is a type of proportional representation designed to give those who otherwise cannot win a seat in the House of Representatives in district elections a chance to win if they have sufficient strength on a nationwide basis. (In this sense, these groups are considered marginalized and underrepresented.) Under the party-list system, representatives are elected from multi-seat districts in proportion to the number of votes received in contrast to the winner-take-all single-seat district in which, even if a candidate garners 49.9% of the votes, he gets no seat.

Thus, under the party-list system, a party or candidate need not come in first in order to win seats in the legislature. On the other hand, in the winner-take-all single-seat district, the votes cast for a losing candidate are wasted as only those who vote for the winner are represented. To the extent then that it assures parties or candidates a percentage of seats in the legislature that reflects their public support, the party-list system enables marginalized and underrepresented sectors (such as, but not limited to, the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, and youth sectors) to obtain seats in the House of Representatives. Otherwise, the party-list system does not guarantee to these sectors seats in the legislature.

This is the method of representation adopted in the Constitution as answer to the problem of underrepresentation.

In arguing that the party-list system is exclusively for the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, petitioner Bayan Muna argues that the constitutional intent in adopting the party-list system must be searched for in the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission.

The polestar of constitutional interpretation has been stated by this Court in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, 4 as follows:

While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the debates and proceedings of the constitutional convention in order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates in the constitutional convention are of value as showing the views of the individual members, and as indicating the reason for their votes, but they give us no light as to the views of the large majority who did not talk, much less of the mass or our fellow citizens whose votes at the polls gave that instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to construe the constitution from what appears upon its face. The proper interpretation therefore depends more on how it was understood by the people adopting it than in the framers understanding thereof.

It is worth recalling the celebrated comment of Charles P. Curtis, Jr. on the role of history in constitutional exegesis:

The intention of the framers of the Constitution, even assuming we could discover what it was, when it is not adequately expressed in the Constitution, that is to say, what they meant when they did not say it, surely that has no binding force upon us. If we look behind or beyond what they set down in the document, prying into what else they wrote and what they said, anything we may find is only advisory. They may sit in at our councils. There is no reason why we should eavesdrop on theirs.5cräläwvirtualibräry

Be that as it may, the Record of the Constitutional Commission speaks clearly against petitioners reading of Art. VI, 5(1)(2). It shows clearly that the Constitutional Commission rejected sectoral representation in preference to proportional representation.

As originally written, 5 of the Draft Article on the Legislative Department read:

SEC. 5. The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces and cities in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected from the sectors and party list. The sectoral or party list representatives shall in no case exceed twenty percent of the entire membership of the House of Representatives.

Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact and adjacent territory, provided, however, that each city with a population of more than two hundred thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative.

Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this section.6cräläwvirtualibräry

As petitioner Bayan Muna states, two proposals for additional representation in the House of Representatives were submitted by the Committee on Legislative Department: one for sectoral representation, advocated by Commissioner Villacorta, and another one for party-list system, advocated by Commissioner Monsod. The two are not the same. As Commissioner Monsod said in explaining his proposal:

MR. MONSOD. . . .

I would like to make a distinction from the beginning that the proposal for the party list system is not synonymous with that of the sectoral representation. Precisely, the party list system seeks to avoid the dilemma of choice of sectors and who constitute the members of the sectors. . . . In effect, a sectoral representation in the Assembly would mean that certain sectors would have reserved seats; that they will choose among themselves who would sit in those reserved seats. And then, we have the problem of which sector because as we will notice in Proclamation No. 9, the sectors cited were the farmers, fishermen, workers, students, professionals, business, military, academic, ethnic and other similar groups. So these are the nine sectors that were identified here as sectoral representatives to be represented in this Commission. The problem we had in trying to approach sectoral representation in the Assembly was whether to stop at these nine sectors or include other sectors. . . . Second, we had the problem of who comprise the farmers. . . . A doctor may be a farmer; a lawyer may also be a farmer. And so, it is up to the discretion of the person to say I am a farmer so he would be included in that sector.

. . . Under the party list system, there are no reserved seats for sectors. . . . This can be a regional party, a sectoral party, a national party, UNIDO, Magsasaka or a regional party in Mindanao. One need not be a farmer to say that he wants the farmers party to be represented in the Assembly. Any citizen can vote for any party. At the end of the day, the COMELEC will then tabulate the votes that had been garnered by each party or each organization one does not have to be a political party and register in order to participate as a party and count the votes and from there derive the percentage of the votes that had been cast in favor of a party, organization or coalition.

. . . .

We feel that this approach gets around the mechanics of sectoral representation while at the same time making sure that those who really have a national constituency or sectoral constituency will get a chance to have a seat in the National Assembly. These sectors or these groups may not have the constituency to win a seat on a legislative district basis. They may not be able to win a seat on a district basis but surely, they will have votes on a nationwide basis.

The purpose of this is to open the system. In the past elections, we found out that there were certain groups or parties that, if we count their votes nationwide, have about 1,000,000 or 1,500,000 votes. But they were always third place or fourth place in each of the districts. So, they have no voice in the Assembly. But this way, they would have five or six representatives in the Assembly even if they would not win individually in legislative districts. So, that is essentially the mechanics, the purpose and objectives of the party list system.7cräläwvirtualibräry

Commissioner Monsod, therefore, proposed to amend the phrase shall be elected from the sectors and party list in 5 by replacing it with the following

THROUGH A PARTY LIST SYSTEM OF REGISTERED NATIONAL, REGIONAL OR SECTORAL PARTIES OR ORGANIZATIONS.8cräläwvirtualibräry

Attention should be paid to this proposal because with slight modification it later became the basis of the present Art. VI, 5(1)(2).

The following exchange took place on the Monsod amendment:

MR. DAVIDE: Madam President, before accepting the proposed amendment, the Committee would like to get some clarifications.

When the proponent speaks of OR SECTORAL PARTIES OR ORGANIZATIONS, is he referring to any sector which the law may subsequently define?

MR. MONSOD: . . . . The party list system that is being advocated by this amendment is a system that opens up the list to any regional, national or sectoral party. . . .

. . . .

MS. AQUINO. The Committee would like to be clarified on this.

Do we understand the proponent correctly that this party list system is not necessarily synonymous to sectoral representation?

MR. MONSOD: No, it is not necessarily synonymous, but it does include the right of sectoral parties or organizations to register, but it is not exclusive to sectoral parties or organizations.

MS. AQUINO. And that it does not likewise reserve any institutional seat for any sector? In other words, it only enables it to be a part of the party list if it has the capacity to do so, but it does not reserve any seat for the sectors.

MR. MONSOD. Yes, Madam President, this is not a reserve seat system.9cräläwvirtualibräry

The proposed amendment was opposed by a group headed by Commissioner Villacorta, which included Commissioners Tadeo, Lerum, and Bernas. Lerum said:

MR. LERUM. Madam President, in view of the explanation, I am objecting to this amendment because it is possible that the labor sector will not be represented considering that those who will vote are all the voters of the Philippines. In other words, the representative of labor will be chosen by all the electors of the Philippines, and that is not correct. My contention is that the sectoral representative must be selected by his own constituents, and for that reason, I am objecting to this amendment.10cräläwvirtualibräry

On the other hand, Tadeo objected on the ground that if allowed to participate in the party-list system, the major political parties could gobble up the sectoral parties. He said:

MR. TADEO. . . . . Kapag inilagay natin ang party list, papasukin ng political parties. Mangigibabaw at kakainin din niyan hanggang mawala ang sektor.11cräläwvirtualibräry

MR. TADEO. Ang punto lamang namin, pag pinayagan mo ang UNIDO na isang political party, it will dominate the party list at mawawalang saysay din iyong sector. Lalamunin mismo ng political parties ang party list system. Gusto ko lamang bigyan ng diin ang reserve. Hindi ito reserve seat sa marginalized sectors. Kung titingnan natin itong 198 seats, reserved din ito sa political parties.12cräläwvirtualibräry

Villacorta said he was objecting to the party-list system because it would not solve the problem of ineffective representation of the underprivileged sectors. He said:

For too long since our people attained a semblance of self-government at the start of this century, our legislators were elected based on their promise that they would represent the little people of our land. With the exception of a few patriotic legislators, some of whom are in our Commission today, members of the National Assemblies, the Congresses, and the Batasans of the past did not devote themselves enough to the alleviation of the dismal condition of our countrys poor and lower classes.

. . . .

These realities convince us that there are no spokesmen and legislators who can best represent the poor, the underprivileged, the marginalized than those coming from within their ranks.13cräläwvirtualibräry

To Commissioner Villacorta, only reserved seats for the sectors would give them effective representation:

MR. MONSOD. My amendment merely says that it is THROUGH A PARTY LIST SYSTEM OF REGISTERED NATIONAL, REGIONAL OR SECTORAL PARTIES OR ORGANIZATIONS.

My question is: Does the Honorable Commissioner object to this amendment?

MR. VILLACORTA. Yes, because it does not guarantee that the seats reserved for the party list representatives will be reserved for the sectors.14cräläwvirtualibräry

Because of the impasse, the discussion on Friday, July 25, 1986, on 5 was suspended to allow the commissioners to come to an agreement. After one week, a compromise formula was reached by the two groups and presented to the plenary session of the Commission on August 1, 1986. In lieu of the phrase shall be elected from the sectors and the party list, it was proposed that the following be inserted in 5 of the Draft Article:

THROUGH A PARTY LIST SYSTEM OF REGISTERED NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND SECTORAL PARTIES OR ORGANIZATIONS AS PROVIDED BY LAW. THE PARTY LIST REPRESENTATIVES SHALL CONSTITUTE TWENTY PERCENT OF THE TOTAL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PROVIDED THAT FOR THE FIRST TWO TERMS AFTER THE RATIFICATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION TWENTY-FIVE OF THE SEATS ALLOCATED TO PARTY LIST REPRESENTATIVES SHALL BE FILLED BY SELECTION OR ELECTION, AS PROVIDED BY LAW FROM THE LABOR, PEASANT, URBAN POOR AND YOUTH SECTORS.

However, although an agreement had apparently been reached, the advocates of sectoral representation were not satisfied that it would be allowed only for two terms and only with respect to one-half of the seats allocated for party-list representatives. Commissioner Aquino proposed instead the following amendment of 5:

ELECTED THROUGH A PARTY LIST SYSTEM OF REGISTERED NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND SECTORAL PARTIES OR ORGANIZATIONS, AS PROVIDED BY LAW. THE PARTY LIST REPRESENTATIVES SHALL CONSTITUTE TWENTY PERCENT OF THE TOTAL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. TWENTY-FIVE OF THE SEATS ALLOCATED TO PARTY LIST REPRESENTATIVES SHALL BE FILLED BY ELECTION, AS PROVIDED BY LAW, FROM THE LABOR, PEASANT, URBAN POOR, WOMEN AND YOUTH SECTORS

When put to vote, however, Aquinos proposal was defeated with nineteen (19) voting in favor, and twenty-two (22) voting against. 15cräläwvirtualibräry

The Commission then voted on the proposed amendment of Commissioner Monsod. With only a few minor changes, it was approved by a vote of thirty-two (32) commissioners against none. 16 As finally worded, the amendment reads:

SHALL BE FILLED AS PROVIDED BY LAW, BY SELECTION OR ELECTION, FROM THE LABOR, PEASANT, URBAN POOR, INDIGENOUS CULTURAL COMMUNITIES, WOMEN, YOUTH, AND SUCH OTHER SECTORS AS MAY BE PROVIDED BY LAW, EXCEPT THE RELIGIOUS SECTOR

Thus, the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission show that the party-list system is not limited to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors referred to by petitioners, i.e., labor, peasants, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, and the youth, but that it is a type of proportional representation intended to give voice to those who may not have the necessary number to win a seat in a district but are sufficiently numerous to give them a seat nationwide. It, therefore, misreads the debates on Art. VI, 5(1)(2) to say that Although Commissioners Villacorta and Monsod differed in their proposals as to the details of the party-list system, both proponents worked within the framework that the party-list system is for the marginalized as termed by Comm. Villacorta and the underrepresented as termed by Comm. Monsod, which he defined as those which are always third or fourth place in each of the districts. 17cräläwvirtualibräry

Indeed, the two proposals put forth by them are basically different, and they do not have the same basis. What the advocates of sectoral representation wanted was permanent reserved seats for marginalized sectors by which they mean the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, and youth sectors. Under Art. VI, 5(2), these sectors were given only one-half of the seats in the House of Representatives and only for three terms. On the other hand, the third or fourth place(rs) in district elections, for whom the party-list system was intended, refer to those who may not win seats in the districts but nationwide may be sufficiently strong to enable them to be represented in the House. They may include Villacortas marginalized or underprivileged sectors, but they are not limited to them. There would have been no need to give the marginalized sectors one-half of the seats for the party-list system for three terms if the two systems are identical.

The objections raised against the accreditation of private respondents are the same ones raised by Commissioners Villacorta, Tadeo, and Lerum, among others, to the Monsod proposal which became the present Art. VI, 5(1)(2), namely, that certain sectors, like labor, may not win seats in the House under the party-list system; that the big parties might gobble up the sectoral parties; that the party-list system will not solve the problem of ineffective representation of the underprivileged sectors. These objections, however, did not carry the day, as the members of the Constitutional Commission voted 32-0 in favor of the Monsod proposal. It is noteworthy that even those who spoke against the Monsod proposal did not vote against it. To uphold these objections now would be to overrule the Constitutional Commission and in effect amend the Constitution.

In sum, a problem was placed before the Constitutional Commission that the existing winner-take-all one-seat district system of election leaves blocks of voters underrepresented. To this problem of underrepresentation two solutions were proposed: sectoral representation and party-list system or proportional representation. The Constitutional Commission chose the party-list system. This Court cannot hold that the party-list system is reserved for the labor, peasants, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, and youth as petitioners contend without changing entirely the meaning of the Constitution which in fact mandates exactly the opposite of the reserved seats system when it provides in Art. IX,C, 6 that A free and open party system shall be allowed to evolve according to the free choice of the people, subject to the provisions of this Article.

Thus, neither textual nor historical consideration yields support for the view that the party-list system is designed exclusively for labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, and youth sectors. As Commissioner Ople said in supporting the Monsod proposal:

In my opinion, this will also create the stimulus for political parties and mass organizations to seek common ground. For example, we have the PDP-Laban and the UNIDO. I see no reason why they should not be able to make common goals with mass organizations so that the very leadership of these parties can be transformed through the participation of mass organizations. And if this is true of the administration parties, this will be true of others like the Partido ng Bayan which is now being formed. There is no question that they will be attractive to many mass organizations. In the opposition parties to which we belong, there will be a stimulus for us to contact mass organizations so that with their participation, the policies of such parties can be radically transformed because this amendment will create conditions that will challenge both the mass organizations and the political parties to come together. And the party list system is certainly available, although it is open to all the parties. It is understood that the parties will enter in the roll of the COMELEC the names of representatives of mass organizations affiliated with them. So that we may, in time, develop this excellent system that they have in Europe where labor organizations and cooperatives, for example, distribute themselves either in the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Party in Germany, and their very presence there has a transforming effect upon the philosophies and the leadership of those parties.18cräläwvirtualibräry

With respect to the cancellation of any party registered under the party-list system, 6 of the Party-List System Act provides:

SEC. 6. Refusal and/or Cancellation of Registration. The COMELEC may, motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, refuse or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on any of the following grounds:

(1) It is a religious sect or denomination, organization or association organized for religious purposes;

(2) It advocates violence or unlawful means to seek its goal;

(3) It is a foreign party or organization;

(4) It is receiving support from any foreign government, foreign political party, foundation, organization, whether directly or through any of its officers or members or indirectly through third parties for partisan election purposes;

(5) It violates or fails to comply with laws, rules or regulations relating to elections;

(6) It declares untruthful statements in its petition;

(7) It has ceased to exist for at least one (1) year; or

(8) It fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered.

Petitioners allegations that certain parties or organizations, such as private respondents MAD and Ang Buhay Hayaang Yumabong, are disqualified under this provision are for the COMELEC to determine after due notice and hearing. They are unfit for resolution in these proceedings.

III.

On the other hand, the majority states:

The presumption is that the words in which the constitutional provisions are couched express the objective sought to be attained. In other words, verba legis still prevails. Only when the meaning of the words used is unclear and equivocal should resort be made to extraneous aids of construction and interpretation, such as the proceedings of the Constitutional Commission or Convention, in order to shed light on and ascertain the true intent or purpose of the provision being construed.

. . . .

Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution, relative to the party-list system, is couched in clear terms: the mechanics of the system shall be provided by law. Pursuant thereto, Congress enacted RA 7941. . . . Section 2 thereof unequivocally states that the party-list system of electing congressional representatives was designed to enable underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole . . .

With due respect, I think the majority misapprehends the meaning of 2 of R.A. No. 7941. The provision reads:

SEC. 2. Declaration of Party. 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 thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.

What this provision simply states is that the purpose of the party-list system is to promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives and, that to achieve this end, a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives shall be guaranteed. Contrary to what the majority claims, 2 does not say that the party-list system is intended to enable Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations, and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation to win seats in the House of Representatives. What it says is that the policy of the law is to promote proportional representation through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations, and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation to win seats in the House. For while the representation of marginalized and underrepresented sectors is a basic purpose of the law, it is not its only purpose. As already explained, the aim of proportional representation is to enable those who cannot win in the winner-take-all district elections a chance of winning. These groups are not necessarily limited to the sectors mentioned in 5, i.e., labor, peasants, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, the elderly, the handicapped, women, the youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals. These groups can possibly include other sectors.

Indeed, how can there be a full, free and open party system if the election for the party list system is to be limited to the sectors which are enumerated in 5 of the law, i.e., labor, peasants, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, the elderly, handicapped, women, the youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals? After all, what is provided for is a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations each of which is separately defined in 3 of the law.

That the party-list system is not limited to these groups is also clear from 5 of the law:

SEC. 5. Registration. - 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, bylaws, platform or program of government, list of officers, coalition agreement and other relevant information as the COMELEC may require: Provided, That the sectors shall include labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals.

There would be no need to provide specifically for the sectors if the party-list system is reserved for them.

FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS , the petitions in these cases should be dismissed.


Endnotes:

1 Memorandum for Petitioner Bayan Muna 17-18.

2 Memorandum for the COMELEC 23-24.

3 Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator of Davao v. Land Registration Commission, 102 Phil. 596, 627 (1957).

4 194 SCRA 317, 337-338 (1991), quoting Commonwealth v. Ralph, 111 Pa. 365, 3 Atl. 220 (1886).

5 LIONS UNDER THE THRONE 2 (1947) (emphasis in the original).

6 Committee on Legislative Power, Committee Report No. 22 (emphasis added).

7 2 RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION 85-86, session of Tuesday, July 22, 1986 (emphasis added).

8 Id. at 252-253, session of Friday, July 25, 1986.

9 Id. at 253 (emphasis added).

10 Id. at 254, session of Friday, July 25, 1986.

11 Id. at 254.

12 Id. at 257.

13 Id. at 255.

14 Id. at 258.

15 Id. at 584, session of Friday, Aug. 1, 1986.

16 Id. at 589.

17 Memorandum for Petitoner Bayan Muna 13.

18 II RECORD 568, session of Friday, Aug. 1, 1986.




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