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SC asked to stop Comelec from giving additional seat to party-list group

The Supreme Court on Thursday has been asked to nullify a Commission on Elections resolution allocating a second seat in Congress for the Cooperative NATCCO Network (Coop-NATCCO) party-list.

In its petition, the Ating Guro party-list accused the Comelec of grave abuse of discretion when it affirmed, through Minute Resolution No. 16-0394 dated June 9, 2016, a decision by the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) to give a second seat to Coop-NATCCO, without conducting a hearing on what the petitioner called a "pre-proclamation controversy."

Ating Guro said the June 9 minute resolution was not even duly promulgated by the Comelec en banc, even as the group was likewise not given any notice regarding the poll body's ruling.

The petitioner asked the SC to declare as null and void the June 9, 2016 minute resolution, as well as modifying the NBOC ruling dated May 19 by taking back the second seat given to Coop-NATCCO and allocating it instead to Ating Guro or the next party in the ranking on record.

The petitioning party-list group said a writ of preliminary injunction or a status quo ante order stopping the poll body from implementing the assailed resolution and proclamation should be issued while the SC is hearing its petition.

Ang Guro said that after applying the "Carpio formula" in Banat v. Comelec, the resulting product assigned to Coop-NATCCO was not a whole integer, so it is not entitled to an additional seat.

Under the party-list system, a party-list group which gets at least 2 percent of the total votes is entitled to one seat each.

In the Banat case, the SC held that in computing additional seats, the guaranteed seats shall no long be included because they have already been allocated at one seat each to every two percent.

In the May 9, 2016 elections, 12 party-list groups obtained 2 percent of the total votes, including Coop-NATCCO. As the maximum seats reserved under the party-list system is 59, the 12 guaranteed seats would then be deducted, leaving a total of 47, which are the remaining seats for allocation as additional seats.

According to the Banat rule, the number of remaining seats shall be distributed proportionally to party-list groups receiving sufficient number of votes using the following formula: the quotient of the number of votes received by a party-list group and the total number of votes cast for the party-list system, multiplied by the number of remaining available seats.

The whole number integer of the product of the percentage and the remaining number of available seats corresponds to the additional seat to be given to the party-list group.

The percentage of votes garnered by Coop-NATCCO was 0.020746, which when multiplied by 47 (the number of remaining available seats) is equal to 0.975062. Ang-Guro said the product was not a whole integer and does not qualify the party-list to an additional seat. Rounding off is also not allowed, according to Ang Guro, since the SC had already ruled in the Banat decision that "fractional seats" are disregarded.

"The respondent Comelec clearly railroaded the disposition of the petition of Ating Guro docketed as SPC 16-025 in violation of the latter's right to due process of law," read the petition filed with the SC.

Ang Guro said after the first round of allocation of 12 additional seats, Coop-NATCCO, being a 2-percenter, should no longer have been included in those who could avail of the then 35 seats up for grabs in the second round of allocation of additional seats.

Ang Guro said this was "to give way to the intention of the Party-list Law and the 1987 Constitution to allow for the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives." The petitioner, not being a 2-percenter and obtaining a percentage of votes of 0.007337, said it was still eligible for the second round of allocation. — RSJ, GMA News