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Comelec plans to define 'marginalized' in law on party-list polls


Amid a petition for disqualification against a party-list group, Commission on Elections chief Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Thursday said the poll body is planning to come up with a definition of "marginalized" in the party-list law to avoid confusion on what the term means. Brillantes told GMA News Online: "Wala kang definition [ng marginalized] eh. Ilalabas sa decision namin kung ano ang definition ng marginalized." But he did not elaborate on this. Brillantes cited the need to define the word "marginalized" in the law when asked about a letter addressed to him by militant groups who wanted to disqualify Akbayan Citizen's Action party-list. In the letter, the League of Filipino Students, Kilusang Mayo Uno, among other organizations, claimed Akbayan's members and nominees had served in government, thus they are no longer representatives of the marginalized and underrepresented sector. The party-list act or Republic Act 7941 provides that party-list representatives should belong to the marginalized and underrepresented groups or sectors. But the law does not provide a clear definition of marginalized, Brillantes said. However, Comelec chief did not mention a plan to define underrepresented. The law defined the party-list system as "a mechanism of proportional representation in the election if representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions...." Among the sectors that are allowed to participate in the party-list elections are "labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals." Brillantes said the poll body is almost through with its work on applicants for the party-list elections. "We will announce a decision before the end of the month. Lahat siguro or mga nobenta porsiyento tatapusin na namin," Brillantes said. Also, he said they would release a partial list of disqualifed party-list groups by next week. He said a "rough estimate" almost 40 (roughly 37 groups) have already been disqualified, including the 17 that were refused late September. — LBG, GMA News